Sunken Gardens

Study, Work and Play in Downtown St. Petersburg.

Attending college is an important step in most teenagers and young adults lives. There are a few important factors in deciding where to spend the next few years of your life.

As an undergrad I made my choice based on a few factors: The academic programs being offered, distance from my immediate family, the school that would give me the best opportunities academically and athletically.

My years as an undergrad ended in 2008 and 4 years later I made the very important decision to return to school and receive my M.A. in Journalism and Media Studies. As an undergrad I attended a very large school in the South that boasted a top 10 football program and that gave me the opportunity to play the sport that I loved, basketball, at the highest level collegiality. I did not take into account the environment of the city that my University was a part of.

As a graduate student I made it a point to chose a vibrant, relaxing city with a beach and so much more. St. Petersburg, Florida houses my current University, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. The University is academically top notch and it doesn’t hurt that I’m surrounded by culture and adventure!

A Look at What Downtown St. Petersburg has to offer

The Dali Museum

The Salvador Dali Museum

The Dali Museum is a striking building is a concrete trapezoid wrapped in an undulating wave of glass and steel. And its design is an homage to the Dalí Teatro-Museo in Figueres, Spain. The Dali houses beautiful works of art from around the world. The museum’s collection includes 96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors and drawings, 1,300 graphics, photographs, sculptures and objets d’art, and an extensive archival library, and displays are periodically rotated. The museum was recently rebuilt in 2011.

Sunken Gardens


The Sunken Gardens currently contain over 500 species of tropical and subtropical plants amidst pools and cascading waterfalls, lushly planted in a collection of more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers. They include a Japanese garden, cactus garden, and butterfly garden, and Chilean flamingos. Plants include bougainvilleas, royal palms,water lilies, shrimp plants, and fruit trees. The garden atmosphere is peaceful and many of the plants are quite large (compared to typical specimens) due to their long history of protection and cultivation.  Sunken Gardens is the oldest commercial tourist attraction on Florida’s west coast.

The NEW St. Pete Pier

New Pier sketch, Picture courtsey of: Michael Malt

New Pier sketch, Picture courtsey of: Michael Malt

The Pier is a landmark and major tourist destination in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Some of the activities and sights it encompasses include fishing, boat rentals, weekly festivals, and the Pier Aquarium. Shopping, dining and nightlife are other amenities. The pier is probably undergoing a complete renovation and may close for renovation on May 31, 2013 and reopen with a new refreshed look and feel!

With all of the wonderful options available in Downtown St. Petersburg, it’s easy to see why I chose this wonderful University and city to study, work and play.

Welcome to USF St. Petersburg!

A look at art in our backyard

Take a walk off University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s campus and you are in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg.

Surrounded by the beautiful waters of the Gulf, the city houses some amazing galleries and museums and the best part is that they are all a quick bike ride off campus.

The Dali Museum

Photo credit: The Dali museum

Photo credit: The Dali museum

The building itself is a work of art. Overlooking sailboats and right next to the Mahaffey Theatre, steel beams bend in a way that doesn’t seem natural, supporting glass shaped rectangles forming the “enigma.” According to the Dali Museum website, the “enigma,” which is made up of 1062 triangular pieces of glass, stands 75 feet at its tallest point, a twenty-first century homage to the dome that adorns Dali’s museum in Spain.

And that’s just the outside! Inside, a helical staircase leads up the second and third floors of the expansive museum.

The second floor offers a library for scholars to research Dali and the Avant-garde.

Museum Fine Arts

Photo credit: Museum of Fine Arts

Photo credit: Museum of Fine Arts

I was lucky enough to visit this museum last year when they were showcasing the works of Mr. Andy Warhol! It was AMAZING!

The museum is great about offering new exhibitions and you are bound to find something that will tickle your fancy.

Kapok Tree

Kapok Tree. Photo credit: Bob Horn

Even if you do not go into the museum you can enjoy one of the iconic staples in Downtown St. Pete- The HUGE Kapok tree.

You are officially a “St. Peteian” (don’t know if that’s a word) once you have made an attempt at climbing its branches.

The Morean Arts Center- Chihuly Collection

Glass art- Chihuly

Glass Art by Chihuly. Photo credit: Morean Arts Center

If you do not know who Chihuly is, stop reading this and google his name.

The guy is the glass blower of glass blowing. Some of his pieces remind me of the hard rock candy on a stick that I would eat as a child.

Chihuly is well known around the world and we get to have his work on display right in our backyard!

St. Pete Clay Company

St. Pete Clay Company. Photo Credit: Bob Horn

For those of us who get inspired when we are surrounded by so much beautiful art, we can go over and visit the St. Pete Clay Company.

They have kilns and clay and pottery GALORE! Pay a small fee and you can throw clay all day. There is nothing like getting your hands in the mud and creating a beautiful piece of art work, even if your mom is the only one who can appreciate your lack of artistic skills but will proudly display your crooked pottery piece in the middle of her coffee table.

Thanks Mom!

If you need more convincing that USFSP’s backyard is awesome, check out Art Walk on the 2nd Saturday of every month. Galleries stay open late and offer free admission so you can peruse the art scene while drinking wine and feeling educated!

New Dali Museum series, The Genius Next Door, to feature USF St. Petersburg professors

The Dalí Museum is hosting a new monthly series of stimulating conversations with USF St. Petersburg professors.

Called The Genius Next Door, the series will give audiences a chance to ask questions, exchange ideas and discuss cutting-edge research with intellectual leaders from USF St. Petersburg. Frank Biafora, dean of the USFSP College of Arts and Sciences, will act as the emcee and facilitator for the monthly series.

The Genius Next Door will be a five-part conversation series featuring three different professors every month. Activities and topics will vary each event based on the speakers.

The next event will be Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Museum Theater, with overflow next door seating in the Raymond James Community Room.

The speakers for Thursday’s event are Daniel James Scott, MS, MBA; Dr. Jill McCracken, College of Arts and Sciences; and Carol Hixson, MS, Dean of the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library.

Scott, an instructor in entrepreneurship, is the Associate Director for the Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation Alliance. McCracken, an assistant professor in the English Department, teaches writing and composition. Hixson, writes a blog on her thoughts and experiences in technology and running a library.

The event is open to the public and admission is free for Dalí members and $5 for non-members. The museum is at One Dalí Blvd. in St. Petersburg.


Dali museum

USFSP and Dali Museum to explore deepening ties

USF St. Petersburg and the Dali Museum have entered into a formal memorandum of support aimed at deepening the ties between the two institutions located blocks apart along the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront.

The goal is to increase collaboration between the university and the museum across all disciplines the way Salvador Dali approached his work. Although Dali is best known as a surrealist painter, his interests were deep and broad, taking in film, photography, sculpture, science and more.

“The memorandum is a first step in formalizing the growing relationship between USF St. Petersburg and the Dali Museum,’’ said Norine Noonan, Ph.D., the university’s vice chancellor for academic affairs. She pointed out that students, faculty and staff already enjoy free admission to the museum, faculty members have given lectures there and museum staff  have lectured in classes at USFSP.

“We believe the memorandum of support will benefit both institutions,’’ Noonan said.

The memorandum of support is the result of a series of faculty meetings over the past year led by Frank Biafora, dean of the USFSP College of Arts and Sciences, and Hank Hine, executive director of the Dali Museum. Biafora said he was looking for ways to unite the curricula of the university’s three colleges – Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education – and offer students unique and innovative learning experiences.

The discussions began over a hamburger lunch at a downtown St. Petersburg restaurant.

“On the hamburger a fried egg was perched, breaking the categories of the hard and the soft, breakfast and lunch, knowledge and culture, school and enjoyment,’’ Hine recalls. “That was our signal to begin this project, which has been so generously received by the faculties of the Dali and USFSP, by students and administrators.”

Biafora said he is excited about the possibilities. “The sky it the limit with this collaboration,” Biafora said.  “This project, which we have dubbed ‘The Edge,’ is unlike anything we have done before and we don’t know exactly where we will end up. But the possibilities are energizing and our students will be the greatest beneficiaries.”

Biafora and Hine agree that fostering an interdisciplinary culture is essential today, in both academia and the global workplace.

Hine already is teaching an honors course this semester at the museum, with USFSP professors from all three colleges serving as guest lecturers. The subjects encompass math, media, psychology, history and art.

The liaison for the USFSP/Dali initiative will be Nathan Schwalger, entrepreneurship instructor and creative-in-residence at the College of Business. He said his goal is to “blur the lines between the two institutions and reduce the physical and mental barriers separating them.”

USF St. Petersburg students are studying ideas to physically join the adjacent campuses of USFSP and the Dali, such as stenciling campus sidewalks with Dali motifs.

Future steps include workshops on business innovation that harness the newest research in industrial psychology with Dali’s creative methods, and a series of lectures at the museum by USFSP scholars called The Genius Next focusing on the latest research in their fields.

Art and Science Converge with Dali Lecture Series

Story by Talia DeAngelo, Class of 2015

A series of lectures led by Deby Cassill, USFSP professor of biology, and Peter Tush, curator of education at the Dali Museum, merge concepts in art and science through discussions on selected pieces of Salvador Dali’s work.

At the next lecture on Thursday, Oct. 13, Cassill and Tush will focus on Dali and Paranoia. Basing their talk on a selected piece from the Dali Museum collection, Tush will provide background on the art while Cassill will highlight biological or other science-related concepts illustrated within the work. The free lecture begins at 6 p.m. in the Dali Museum’s theater.

“It’s luck that something I love teaching about is so closely related to the art,” Cassill said. “Dali shows no boundaries on the topics he’s painted and proves that art is one safe spot to express such diverse behaviors.”

Past lectures the duo presented include, “Dali and Ants” and “Dali and DNA.” Tush focuses on the artistic nature of the selected piece from the collection, and Cassill uses videos and slides to explore the scientific elements.

“We began to discuss some different topics we could do that related Dali’s art in both subjects,” Tush said. “Once possible topics were identified we just worked our way from there.”

When Cassill, known for her extensive research on animal behaviors and her studies on the behavioral characteristics of ants, stumbled upon ant imagery in a Dali painting she became intrigued and started thinking about what kind of programming could be done in relation to the work. Cassill spoke with Tush to see if he would like to create an art and science collaboration.

Beyond the upcoming lecture on Oct. 13, Cassill and Tush have future discussion topics planned for Nov. 10 and more dates to be announced for 2012.

Tush said the lectures have generated strong interest because many people can find a way to relate to Dali’s work.

“The dream imagery and objects depicted create a familiarity with the viewer,” he said. “The scientific focus provides a new avenue of exploration for those already familiar with Dalí.”