Monday, June 23, 2014

Full House: St. Pete art fans flock to a house show of a different sort

Some of St. Petersburg's most celebrated artists showed works in a very different atmosphere.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 11:30 AM

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On Sunday afternoon, art fans, hipsters, scenemongers and more descended upon artist Sarah Gail Hutcherson's cute Old Northeast carriage house for a "house show" that had nothing to do with punk rock, and everything to do with community.

Hutcherson, a long-time Bay area art-scene maven who formerly curated the Vitale brothers' "quonset hut" space on First Avenue South, turned pretty much every wall of her home into a showcase space for local artists, and opened her doors to the world, inviting anyone who was interested in to bring some craft beers, nosh and check out works by Frank Strunk III, Pale Horse, April Seelbach, Kristin Eschenroeder, Tes One, Mari Sabra, Chad Mize, Angus Shafer, John Vitale, Nick Nicks, Bask, Joey Vitale, Kate Cummins and more — including the hostess herself.

A crowd large enough to make Hutcherson's comparatively spacious little house feel cramped alternated between wandering from room to room, hanging in the kitchen and stepping outside into the blazing heat to pluck brews from the cooler while letting others get a peek at the art on display.

"I've been wanting to do something like this for a while," said Hutcherson, taking a moment from greeting guests and socializing. "I feel that sometimes at [gallery] shows, it turns into a scene thing, and the art itself doesn't always get the attention it deserves."

She was thinking of making her house show an exhibition of her own work — and Hutcherson's colorful miniature mask portraits, inspired by a creepy-as-hell old photo of a group of trick-or-treaters and hung vertically in the hall across from the bathroom, were a highlight — before deciding to invite several of her peers to join in. The response, in terms of both artists and attendees, proved to be a huge success. Early on, many of the pieces boasted a little star sticker indicating that they'd been sold, and there was even a wall of art made by the children of Hutcherson's friends.

But did she have any misgivings about opening her home for a bunch of strangers to come in, poke around and wander about?
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"I did have 'the nerves' about it a little bit," she said, laughing. "But fortunately, I know just about everybody here, and while my place is hard to find the first time, it's even harder to find the second time."

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