Clearwater-Largo Road used to be one of the most depressed thoroughfares in Pinellas County.
Though the long, curvy road borders one of Tampa Bay’s most affluent areas — Belleair — the road itself used to represent an extreme example of wealth disparity.
No more. The past decade has seen encouraging growth in growth and retail in the area. The City of Largo invested $4-million into making over the area (here’s a piece I wrote recently for the Tampa Bay Times about the surge of independent retail along the once-infamous corridor).
One ambitious artist, Mickey Krause, is doing her part to boost Clearwater-Largo’s cultural presence by establishing an art studio nonprofit and community gathering place in an area that used to be the considered the other side of the tracks.
She is creating a little Pink House for you and me, as John Mellencamp would say.
The above video shows the transformation of a condemned property to potential community asset.
Krause, who turns 65 today, rescued the building at 1300 Clearwater-Largo Road, Largo, to convert it to a working artist’s studio, gallery and gathering spot for painting classes and outdoor parties.
Photos by Daniel Veintimilla
Krause attended Ringling and grew up near Louisville, KY. Her mother didn’t become an artist until she went back to college at age 56 and obtaining her BFA from Webster University in St. Louis, MO at age 62. She had a studio away from her home for about 15 years but now has one in her home and she painted it pink “Lotus Flower” last year when she was 84 — the inspiration behind Krause painting Art Lovers Place the same color.
A painter of impressionistic and photo-realistic nature scenes, familiar Florida creatures and fauna, Krause says watercolor is her primary medium.
Her works were featured in a group show at the Francis Wilson Playhouse in May 2016.
Krause left her career in the restaurant business to devote her all of her time and resources to a non-profit facility she founded. Art Lovers Place Inc. will serve as a co-op and space for working artists who don’t have room to paint at home.
She says she hopes the project will provide a cultural infusion to the Clearwater-Largo corridor, an area in transition. She painted the building pink in tribute to her artist mother, who worked in a pink studio when Mickey was growing up.
Krause met Bill Murray in 2006 at a golf tournament/Kevin Costner Band (in which her brother-in-law was the fiddle player).