The inside of the space located at 2380 6th Ave. S. in St Petersburg, is an evolving hub of artistic expression, but if you catch the building from the wrong angle, you might just miss it. From a distance it’s just a warehouse with an adjoining junkyard, but on closer inspection there is a trio of cars painted on one side – fitting for an area that calls itself the “Automotive Art District.” Another side of the building features a red, freestanding abstract sculpture, a portrait made up of winding pieces and slabs of metal, and a sign: Atelier.
Atelier de SoSi, originally a workspace for metal and wood, was recently renovated and relaunched for pop ups. Megan Allums, manager and daughter of the owner, said the plan is to have resident artists rent the individual, climate-controlled studios inside. It will also be available for private functions.
A recent showcase featured six artists, including Jennifer Kosharek, whose wide-eyed, nesting doll-esque character you might recognize from murals around St Pete’s 600 block. Kosharek’s playful designs have been stolen and used for ads and sold on various items without her permission, and she spoke passionately about crediting an artist for their work.
That’s a subject dear to featured artist Amy Ilic-Volpe, both in vibe and intent. IIlic-Volpe’s brightly colored work, specifically her paper installation titled “The Amplify Wall,” aims to help strengthen the visibility of artists and venues.
Ilic-Volpe’s work stands in stark contrast with Julie Haura’s monochromatic pieces. Haura’s current style veers from the cartoons and princesses of her past, using canvas, metal and even driftwood to present her evocative images.
Repurposing was a recurring theme at this pop up. Mark Eichenbaum’s display featured bugs made from reclaimed and found material.
A collector of random things, artist Dorian Angello found himself wanting to “honor old artifacts.” As he sees it, our aging parents leave behind mementos you can’t just discard, so as a self-proclaimed packrat, Angello uses these items to let the viewer “create their own narrative.” Vintage comics with skewed perspectives of gender roles became part of a piece touching on toxic masculinity. In another work, a baby doll head and small reptile jaw join forces.
Artist Michael Knapp embraced nostalgia differently.
“I love retro images and pop art,” said Knapp. His series portrayed television’s “intrusion into our world, and it’s influence in what we do.”
A metal backdrop that Haura used for one of her pieces was a gift from Atelier’s owner, Bruce Allums, who displays his own work throughout the space. He made all of the gallery’s unique metal, wood and stone furniture pieces using material gathered over the years via his attached salvage yard. Allums said much of the work in the gallery was a joint effort with former partner Terry Krogmann as an inspiration.
Allums, who has been in the neighborhood for 40 years, says he’s excited to be part of its transition. Though it’s current evolution is new, he said the gallery has always had a draw, whether in the vintage cars on elevated display or the range of furniture for sale.
“Every time we have an event, people come, tell their friends,” Megan Allums said, “and then when someone new comes to the next show, they say their friend told them about it.”