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Clearwater turning downtown vacant storefronts into mini art exhibits

Vacant bussiness
Posted at 4:27 PM, Dec 31, 2020

CLEARWATER — The city of Clearwater is turning their vacant downtown store fronts into tourist attractions.

“This opportunity to show off our amazing talents is the best thing that can happen to artists, we are hoping just to create some buzz around here,” said artist Ivanka Ska.

She is one of four Tampa Bay artists to have their creations showcased behind glass on Cleveland Street.

“With all these vacant store fronts I looked at it as a blank canvas,” said Lina Teixeira, who is a fellow artists and the curator of the project.

She said the city needed an innovative way to bring people back to the downtown.

“Revitalize downtown by using our vacant store fronts as a backdrop to these wonderful exhibits by these various artists,” said Teixeira.

So far six property owners have joined in on the project. Every window features wearable art. The materials range from bikinis made out of metal to dresses you can eat, almost all of them for sale.

“I'm thinking maybe this one out of pasta should be somewhere in a beautiful high-end Italian restaurant,” said Teixeira, pointing to one of her dresses.

These artists say any opportunity to grab the attention of a new audience is welcomed.

“I think it is a great idea to get the artists involved, you can never have too much art or too much authenticity plugged into an area that is primarily commercial,” said artist Frank Strunk III.

The city is hoping it’s a win-win, come for the art, stay for dinner or a drink.

“I have a lot of people who haven’t been to downtown Clearwater, have come down just to see the windows, and were like, ‘wow we had no idea there were so many wonderful restaurants,” said artist Beth Warmath.

So far the project seems to be working, as people are literally stopping to take a closer look. The city hopes to add even more windows, unveiling new artists, and a new theme every six months.

“My biggest pleasure doing wearable art is seeing people enjoy,” said artist Julian Hartzog.