There will soon be something different at Charlie Parker Pottery, the studio and gallery that’s been a cornerstone of the St. Petersburg arts world since 2010.
Charlie Parker won’t be there.
Well, he’ll teach the occasional pottery class, and create his own work on site, and show up every now and then to shoot the breeze and see what the new owners are up to.
Parker, 69, has sold the business. “It’s time,” the master potter said, to let go of the day-to-day.
“It’s too hard for me to continue with this 3,600-square-foot building. I wanted to get the back all prettied up, and do more things in the building – but I just can’t do it,” he explained.
Parker underwent hip replacement surgery in 2021.
He sold the building and the business to contractor and ceramic artist Bo Countryman and ceramicist and glass artist Gabriella Schmid. She was Parker’s intern for several years, and they’re all good friends.
“Bo is going to follow some of my plans that I had, and bring it into another whole degree of art. He’s going to bring in more glass, and clay, and food! And his real estate office. So it’s going to be a multi-faceted building.”
The name will remain Charlie Parker Pottery, “as a matter of goodwill, because some people think I might have been instrumental in art in St. Petersburg and they don’t want to see me go.”
Parker arrived in St. Petersburg in 1978 from his native Minneapolis, where he apprenticed with legendary studio potter Warren Westerberg. He had his first gallery show before his 18th birthday.
He taught ceramics at the St. Pete Arts Center and in 1996, along with two partners, began St. Petersburg Clay Company.
Parker and the new owners will sign the paperwork June 20.
“I’m going to work when I want to,” Parker explained. “I’ll teach a little bit, and as per their request I’ve got to train some teachers. And I gotta make sure that everybody knows how to fire the kilns and all of that. But I can come and go as I please.”