The cultural bridge between Tampa and St. Petersburg will grow considerably shorter when a new University of South Florida art concept debuts at The Factory St. Pete in the fall.
Generator: USF Contemporary Art Museum will take up 3,100 square feet of built-out, re-fitted space at the former industrial warehouse campus in the Warehouse Arts District.
It’s an expansion of Tampa’s existing USF Contemporary Art Museum and Graphicstudio, explained Margaret Miller, director of the college’s Institute for Research in Art, which includes the museum and the Graphicstudio. The latter, a workspace for limited edition print and sculpture multiples, would be “hard to move,” Miller said.
“What I really wanted was something where I could do temporary installation and education programs that reach into our campus over there, giving our students opportunities, but also to reach into the St. Petersburg community. I have lots of friends in St. Pete that support the museum.”
Among them are curator Katherine Pill at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, and Dali Museum Executive Director Hank Hine, who was once the director of the Graphicstudio.
The Downtown Partnership, the City of St. Petersburg and the Behar Peterancz architectural firm (part owners of The Factory) have contributed to the new project, which will focus primarily on digital and film installations.
“There are some people in St. Petersburg that are so profoundly interested in the dynamics of a creative community, and what that can contribute – not just economically but in terms of engaging the local community,” Miller said.
“And building through the arts a sense of place, a sense of ‘we really have something special going on here in this environment.’”
The existing Contemporary Art Museum, at 3821 USF Holly Drive, Tampa, includes just 5,000 square feet of gallery space.
Generator, said Miller, is an expansion, not merely an extension. “We will be programming uniquely for that space. And I’m not saying that I won’t link them and maybe commission a new work for St. Petersburg, but often it will be its own thing.”
The ongoing consolidation of all USF campuses was a factor in bringing Generator across the bay, as well at St. Pete’s fast-growing reputation as a “City of the Arts,” Miller said.
The museum is currently in talks with the Danish collective SuperFlex about bringing its innovative, environmentally-themed “Vertical Migration” installations to Tampa – and, hopefully, to St. Pete.
“The idea is to bring artists in and introduce them, and then see what kind of projects will emerge and develop in the community,” said Miller.
“Those are the kinds of things we’re looking at: Who can we bring in that will catalyze interest from various neighborhoods in that area? And how can we engage young artists – and the public – in our programs?”
The public is invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Generator at 1:30 p.m. Sunday (Feb20) at 2622 Fairfield Ave. South, Building 8.