Friday, August 29, 2014

Ask the Locals: Mitzi Gordon, creative force and Bluebird Books Bus driver

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 6:07 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY HEIDI KURPIELA
  • Photo by Heidi Kurpiela

Mitzi Gordon is as ubiquitous in Tampa Bay as her short blue bus. When the well-read 38-year-old hit the road three years ago in her converted Bluebird Books Bus — a topaz bookmobile that functions as part used bookstore, part art house and part literacy movement — she launched a dream project and, in essence, herself.

Gordon, an artist and writer, was appointed in February as executive director of Creative Pinellas, following a two-year stint as media manager of the organization’s ARTICULATE arts website. Prior to that, she served as the membership manager at the Dalì Museum during its capital campaign and grand opening and worked for the Tampa Museum of Art, VisitFlorida.com and the Tampa Tribune.

A longtime Tampa resident, she recently left her cozy townhome in Forest Lakes and moved into a funky bungalow in downtown St. Petersburg’s bohemian, brick-paved Roser Park enclave.

“When I worked for the Dalì I commuted the entire time,” Gordon says. “This time I felt strongly that I couldn’t do my job as well as I wanted without living in Pinellas County.”

The best perk of all? She now has ample backyard parking for the blue bus, which she paid off in April.

Favorite used bookstore: Mojo Books & Music. “I’ve yet to go with a title in mind and not find it.”

Favorite excuse to rubberneck: Sebastian Coolidge's new mural “Sam.” "The mural I’m most excited about is the one he just finished on an industrial silo at Carroll’s Building Materials near the interstate.”

Favorite new creative hub: The Bloom Warehouse. “It isn’t in the traditional Warehouse Arts District. It’s closer to downtown and it’s attracting a lot of young, inspiring artists. That’s where my studio will be. It’ll be a good way to plug into St. Pete’s art scene.”

Favorite form of pampering: Haircuts at Bentley Salon. “I went to high school with the owner [Scott Bentley]. He always had these punked-out skater haircuts and now he’s this incredibly successful salon owner.”

Favorite place to park her car: Fun-Lan Drive-In. “You can fold down the seats, prop a couple pillows in the back and watch a movie the old-fashioned way.”

Favorite 24-hour grub: La Teresita. “I like to eat at the counter. It’s the perfect combination of Cuban food and people-watching.”

Favorite secondhand store: Goodwill on Hillsborough. “They’re open late on certain weeknights, so you can go get your shopping fix after work. I’ve found everything from gold sequin platform heels to a giant pink Christmas tree.”

Favorite place to lay low: Rick's on the River.  “It’s far enough away from my usual hangouts to feel like a real hideout.”

Favorite ’Burg businesses: Green Bench Brewing and Munch's. “When I moved to St. Pete I had to start looking for replacements for my favorite [Tampa] places. Green Bench Brewing is my new New World Brewery and Munch’s is my new Nicko’s.” 

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