All posts by Chris Demmons

Pippin Summer Theater Production Brings the Heat

Pippin, the Leading Three, and supporting cast

The St. Petersburg College Theater Department’s summer production of Pippin debuted to rave reviews at the Clearwater Campus Arts Auditorium. The musical played four showings running from Friday, June 28 until Sunday, June 30.

This adaption of the 1972 musical is the story of Charlemagne’s son and his search for meaning and fulfillment. It featured direction and stage design by award-winning theater professor Scott Cooper. Choreography was by Jessica Kerner Scuggs and musical direction by Latoya McCormick. The cast and crew for this year’s summer production featured St. Petersburg College students along with high school students and students from five other colleges from the community.

PIPPIN after he has become King and supporting cast
Martin Powers as Pippin with supporting cast. This performance featured St. Petersburg College students along with high school students and students from five other colleges from the community.

An outstanding cast brought the production to life. The lead role of Pippin was played by Martin Powers. This particular production of Pippin featured three Leading Players instead of one, like a Greek chorus. They were performed by Ramiro Capano, Megan Levine, and Chloe McIntosh. Eva Campuzano played Berthe, Catherine is played by Justine Nelson, and Diego Vargas played Theo. Quint Paxton played Charlemagne. As in previous years, the summer theater production moves from strength to strength and has garnered praise from critics.

Broadway World’s Peter Nason wrote that “The SPC production of Pippin follows last year’s triumphant Urinetown with yet another triumph,” and “This is one gorgeous show.”

Pippin's Catherine
Justine Nelson as Catherine and the supporting cast.

Creative stage design, music, and wardrobe helped drive forward this year’s summer theater. For the audience, this performance of Pippin was a fun summer romp, but for the cast and crew, it was an unforgettable experience. Don’t miss the next SPC Theater Department production, The Laramie Project. The future production will be holding auditions in August and hitting the stage in October. Learn more about the performing arts program at St. Petersburg College.

PIPPIN tri-leads
Chloe McIntosh, Ramiro Capano and Megan Levine, starring as the Leading Players.
Berthe, Charlemagne, and supporting cast
Eva Campuzano as Berthe with
Gabrielle Fehring as Fastrada and Quint Paxton as Charlemagne.

Four Pianists Headline Extravaganza

four pianists piano extravaganza

This evening of piano magic with four world-renowned pianists promises a festive, informal, and humorous concert offering popular classics in many styles. The Extravaganza, an annual tradition in the St. Pete/Tampa area, is FREE for St. Petersburg College employees and students on April 12 at the St. Petersburg Gibbs Campus Music Center.

Four Great Pianists

All four pianists – Ariadne Antipa, Rebecca Penneys, E-Na Song, Benjamin Warsaw – have busy schedules as performers and educators and are part of the Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival held at USF Tampa, July 18 – Aug. 5. These four artists are masters of their craft, who have won accolades and awards around the world.

Program includes:

The evening’s performance will include Dvorak Slavonic Dances, Debussy Petite Suite, Milhaud Brasileira, Copland Hoedown, Tchaikovsky Waltzes, Rachmaninoff Vocalise, Gershwin Songs, Grainger Country Gardens and other popular favorites. Don’t miss this opportunity to see Ariadne Antipa, Rebecca Penneys, E-Na Song, and Benjamin Warsaw perform these time honored favorites at the St. Pete Gibbs Music Center on April 12.

  • Date:  Friday, April 12
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Location: SPC Music Center; 6605 Fifth Ave. North, St. Petersburg
  • Admission: $10 at door; SPC students/employees free with ID; Baker’s Dozen discount
  • Phone: 727-341-4360

For information about upcoming events, please visit our events calendar. Learn more about the Music Industry and Recording Arts (MIRA) program at St. Petersburg College.

Good Vibes Only Festival Comes to Williams Park

Good Vibes headliners Cece Teneal and Soul Komotion

Come hear St. Petersburg College students share their talents with the community at our Good Vibes Only Art & Music Festival!

Good Vibes Only Art & Music Festival will take place on Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Williams Park in Downtown St. Petersburg. The festival is free and open to the public.

The festival, a joint venture between SPC and USF St. Petersburg, is a celebration of student art and music. The headliners will be Cece Teneal and Soul Komotion. The band features Cece Teneal as lead vocalist, Chris Baptiste on keyboards, Terrell Kimble on the bass, James Adkins on drums, and Matt Harris on guitars. They will be introducing the festival to their unique blend of blues, soul, and roots music. In addition to the headliners, the festival has an exciting day of student musicians lined up. Don’t miss out!

Good Vibes Only Festival Flyer

Other Bands at the Good Vibes Festival include:

  • Esque
  • Frostfang
  • Speak Easy
  • Rootbound Revival
  • Lydia Segovia
  • Veronika Naumova
  • Lewis Garcia
  • Jalessa Blackshear
  • Vetnough
  • Fall on Purpose

The festival also features gourmet dishes from Tampa Bay’s favorite food trucks, the NOMAD Art Bus, a silent disco, rock climbing wall, alumni zones, virtual reality demonstrations, student art and music, and a collaborative art project. Enjoy a great day celebrating the student creativity, art, and music in historic downtown St. Petersburg in Williams Park from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Unique Art-Making Processes Highlighted at LRMA Exhibit

LRMA Unique Art-Making flyer

The central theme of the upcoming exhibition UNEXPECTED: Art by Alternative Means featuring Nathan Beard, Akiko Kotani and Rob Tarbell at Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art (LRMA) will be unique and innovative art-making processes.

The exhibit will be on display at SPC’s Tarpon Springs campus from February 24 – May 19, 2019. This exhibition features the artwork of three Florida artists who employ unconventional techniques. This exhibition is open to the public and included with museum admission ($7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and free to members, children 17 and younger, St. Petersburg College students and staff with ID and active duty military).

Exciting Florida Artists at LRMA

The featured artists of this exhibit include Nathan Beard, Akiko Kotani and Rob Tarbell. Beard utilizes a labor-intensive art process using tape as a means to create complex, undulating layers of painted patterns. Kotani is a fiber artist who creates drawings with bamboo silk thread, explores mark-making on glass and crochets a “melting wall” from plastic. Tarbell employs the medium of smoke to create portraits on paper and porcelain.

Of this exhibition artwork, LRMA Curator Christine Renc-Carter states, “The emphasis in this exhibition is placed on creative expression through the physicality of the artistic process. Beard, Kotani and Tarbell use unconventional materials to develop new techniques from the basic aspects of drawing. Using tape, smoke and threads made of silk and plastic, they capture the ephemeral and maintain a sense of mystery and magic through inventive mark-making.”

Beard, Kotani and Tarbell will present a gallery talk on Sunday, April 14 at 3 p.m. in LRMA’s Galleries. The event is included with admission.

To complement this exhibition, LRMA will have on view mixed-media works on paper by Tampa artist David McKirdy in the permanent collection galleries.

For more information, contact Beth Chernes at, or visit

Free Jazz Workshops at St. Petersburg College

Free Jazz Workshop Martin Bejerano

St. Petersburg College is proud to host two free jazz workshops at the St. Pete/Gibbs Campus in March. Latin Grammy award-winning flutist Nestor Torres and Martin Bejerano, head of the Jazz Piano Department at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, will hold workshops on March 1 and March 4.

Born in Puerto Rico, Nestor Torres studied at the Mannes School of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music. His 14 solo albums have earned four Latin Grammy nominations, one Grammy nomination, and a Latin Grammy award. Torres has collaborated with a wide variety of artists including Gloria Estefan, Kenny Loggins, Dave Mathews, Herbie Hancock, Tito Puente, Michael Camilo, Paquito D’ Rivera and Arturo Sandoval. This outstanding flutist will hold his workshop on March 1 in HS 117 at 2 p.m.

Martin Bejerano, a Miami native, began his career at age 15 with a performance of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with the Mexican-American Bi-National Symphony. He studied at Florida State University’s New World School of the Arts and holds a masters degree in Jazz Piano Performance from Miami University. Bejerano placed third in the national 1999 Great American Jazz Piano Competition. He joined the quartet of legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes, and their recording of “Fountain of Youth” was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Instrumental Jazz album in 2004. He has played with Christian McBride Band, Kenny Garrett, Roy Hargrove, Adam Nussbaum, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Lonnie Plaxico Group and Marcus Printup at jazz festivals, venues, and concerts around the world. Bejerano will hold his workshop on March 4 in HS 109 at 10 am.

These free jazz workshops are open to St. Petersburg College students and the community. Learn more about the Music Industry and Recording Arts program at St. Petersburg College, and the college’s jazz band.

Creatives Meet with Mentors at Creative Career Summit

Q&A with Al Pitrelli at the Creative Career Summit

SPC’s first Creative Career Summit brought successful artists like Al Pitrelli, Esteban Valdez, and Josh Sullivan to the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus to speak to creatives among students and the community.

Head of the team – Al Pitrelli

The Oct. 19 event’s keynote speaker, Pitrelli has served as the musical director for musician Alice Cooper and played with bands like Megadeath and Blue Oyster Cult. He now is the musical musical director and lead guitarist for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

As a musical director, Pitrelli brings the whole show together in the studio or on the road. He compared it to being the head coach of a football team. Instead of winning games, he works with band members and the lighting designer to create great albums and shows.

In addition to the keynote, Pitrelli hosted a long Q&A with students. During both, he stressed the importance of hard work, study, practice, and passion.

“You have to love this more than anything else,” Pitrelli said about working in the entertainment and music business. “You have to be a bit selfish, and you have to assume there’s somebody else out there that wants it just as much as you do. Forty years ago when I was 15-years-old, nothing else mattered other than practicing all day and all night. I’d rather be broke than do anything else. My advice to everyone is work like your life depends on it.”

Animation and Esteban Valdez

Esteban Valdez, founder of the award-winning animation studio Echo Bridge, gave a presentation about “5 Tips for Getting Hired.” It focused on the art of the job search and networking. The company changed its internship program over the summer to be more like a traditional apprenticeship with a focus on fundamentals. The goal, he said, is to have each intern produce a short by the end of their internship.

“A couple of students have said, ‘Now that I know that I can do a film, I’m already working on my second one.’ It gets them to keep on making shorts, keep on making animation.” said Valdez.

He is currently working on a short, “Alone”, which had been in production at the studio for the past two years. The film experiments with light, sound, and subliminal messaging. Valdez says it is a tribute to Stanley Kubrick.

From SPC art student to entrepreneur – Josh Sullivan

SPC alum and entrepreneur Josh Sullivan met with students and gave a presentation “From Art Student to Entrepreneur.” Sullivan graduated from SPC in 2015 and now is taking on his own interns from the college. He was nominated for an Ignatz Award in the Outstanding Mini-Comic category and won Best of the Bay: Best Bizarre Sense of Humor from Creative Loafing. His work was most recently shown at the Haus Coffee Shop in Largo.

The night also featured the Arts Conservatory for Teens, the Disney Internship program, Girls Rock St. Pete, J. Thor Productions, and

Interested in programs for creatives at SPC? Learn more online!

Student Photographers’ Work Accompanies Smithsonian Exhibit

Woman with camera.

Ten of St. Petersburg College’s talented student photographers will have their work displayed alongside the special Smithsonian exhibit The Way We Worked at the City of Tarpon Springs’ Center for Gulf Coast Folklife Gallery in the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center. The showing starts on Friday, Oct. 6.

The photographers are part of the Photography program at Clearwater Campus, and many are active in a newly formed photography club at the campus.

Photographers’ project: Working in Tampa Bay

A Day's Work by photographer Bonnie Simmons
From the exhibition, “A Day’s Work” Handy Woman, Bonnie Simmons

Professor Eleni Christopoulos-Lekkas directed the students in capturing Working in Tampa Bay. The photos were captured on a combination of film and digital cameras. Students featured a variety occupations from around the Tampa Bay area and have also collected objects associated with the trades as part of the exhibit.

The special opening night reception will feature workers from a variety of fields, who will speak about what they do and how it makes a difference in the lives of Floridians.

A sponge diver is among the workers slated to speak at the reception. Sponge diving has played an important cultural and economic role in Tarpon Springs dating back to the 19th century.

Other associated events that will run throughout October include talks on the working lives of Floridians by historians, and a showing of three documentary films at the Tarpon Springs Library. Learn more about this, and the other great events at the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center.

Don’t miss out!

Come to the reception on Friday, Oct. 6, at the Folklife Gallery at the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center. The exhibit is FREE and will run through Nov. 17. This is a fantastic opportunity to see a Smithsonian exhibit and support Tampa Bay’s student artists.

Interested in photography? Learn more about the Photographic Technology A.S. Degree at St. Petersburg College.

Mural on St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Dedicated

Photo of the ribbon cutting for Infinite Journey mural.

The St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus’ new mural Infinite Journey is official with a dedication ceremony held April 26 that included St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin.

Dedication of campus mural

Artist Derek Donelly, Tomalin, SP/G Provost Jamelle Conner, and Phi Theta Kappa Eta Nu Officer Julie Chorgo-Gilson were on hand to cut the ribbon and dedicate the mural. The day’s dedication represented the end of PTK Eta Nu and the Ethics in Action Club’s journey to bring a mural to campus.

PTK Eta Nu Advisor Bonnie Kesler and PTK Eta Nu were honored with a Hallmark Award for Distinguished College Project for their work. The club accepted the award in April at the Catalyst international Convention for PTK chapters. Students selected Derek Donelly’s design from a number of contenders.

Mural honors students, alumni

Derek Donelly is a hometown artist, noted for his gorgeous murals.

A founding member of the Pinellas Park Arts Village, his past projects have included murals for the American Association for Retired Persons and Achieva Credit Union. He is one of the artists credited with bringing murals to downtown St. Petersburg in 2013.

Infinite Journey shows a sea turtle swimming through a sea of stars and represents an SPC student’s journey into “the great unknown” after graduation.

The work also celebrates alum NASA astronaut Nicole P. Stott. She participated in five missions in space and the first live NASA Tweetup from the International Space Station. SP/G students had the opportunity to see the artist in action as he painted the mural on the side of the campus’ Student Services building.

Home of the arts

SP/G is no stranger to the arts. It is the home of the Music Industry and Recording Arts program  and the Music Center, which has hosted musicians from around the world.

The Music Center also recently hosted a showing of African-American art and provided a free showing of the film Hidden Figures for SPC students.

Learn more about St. Petersburg Gibbs Campus. And see more photos from the ribbon cutting at the mural’s dedication on the college’s Facebook page.  

Miroux Brings It On Stage At GMF

Photo of Miroux on stage at GMF

Tampa Bay-area band Miroux, led by St. Petersburg College Music Industry and Recording Arts student Jonathan Hollander, played at the sixth annual Gasparilla Music Festival. The band joined local favorites and national acts at the two-day festival in Tampa on Saturday, March 11.

The six-piece band includes Hollander, the lead singer, guitarists Zack Page and George Leventis, San Siaca on bass, Alex Merrill on keyboards, and drummer Charlie Bianchet.

Hollander, who has previously been featured on SPC’s Arts, Humanities and Design blog, is an accomplished musician who has opened for George Clinton and his Parliament Funkadelic. With Miroux, they have opened for bands like Young the Giant, and The 1975. Listen to a sampler of their music on Soundcloud.

“The MIRA program was essential in building us up, and helping us get on this stage,” said Hollander.

Rubbing shoulders with the stars

St. Petersburg College student Ben Kennett, a member of the SPC Radio Club, had the opportunity to interview Scott Anderson of Have Gun, Will Travel in the Orange Room backstage at the Gasparilla Music Festival. Have Gun, Will Travel’s music has been featured on shows like Roadtrip Nation, The Good Wife, and Expedition Unknown. Anderson was one of a number of musicians who sat for interviews in the backstage lounge that was created by students and staff. The festival gave students a chance to network and learn from music industry professionals.

Faculty and staff raise money for MIRA

While Miroux was playing the stage, many of their music instructors were across the park serving up the suds for a good cause. St. Petersburg College faculty and staff took up their battle stations in the bustling beer tent at the Gasparilla Music Festival to raise money for Faculty and staff raise money for MIRAMIRA. This has been an annual tradition, raising money to help talented music students in need.

The two day festival spanning two parks brought thousands into contact with the best in local music along with Cage the Elephant and Ryan Adams. With more than 40 bands in genres ranging from gospel to blues to pop, there was something for everyone. Festival favorites included the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Have Gun, Will Travel, and the Tampa Metropolitan Youth Orchestra. This year’s Gasparilla Music Festival was a great opportunity to celebrate and support Tampa Bay’s music scene, including artists from right here at SPC.

The MIRA Associate in Science degree offers a well-rounded, technology-based education to student musicians, composers, producers, DJs, live-sound reinforcement enthusiasts, broadcast audio engineers and post-production technologists.

Empty Bowls At SPC Fights Hunger In Pinellas County

Empty Bowls Table

The St. Petersburg College Clearwater Campus hosted the college’s first Empty Bowls fundraiser on Nov. 12. Volunteers raised more than $3,000 to help RCS Pinellas feed the hungry in Pinellas County.

Empty Bowls brings together artists, educators

Donors enjoyed delicious soup from area eateries and got to pick out a one-of-a-kind bowl to take home with them.

Talented artists from the St. Petersburg College Ceramics Program, the ceramics students from the University of South Florida, Clearwater Catholic High School students, and artists from around Tampa Bay provided thousands of bowls for the fundraiser. Each was a unique and heartfelt creation by some of the best and brightest potters in the bay area.

The arts and education communities have a long history with Empty Bowls fundraisers and the fight against hunger. A Michigan high school teacher created the first Empty Bowls fundraiser. Over the next twenty years, the fundraising effort spread across the country.

The money raised at Saturday’s fundraiser goes directly toward feeding hungry families in Pinellas County. According to RCS Pinellas, the primary demographic they serve in their food pantry are children, ages 5 to 13,  with more than half of the clients they serve are under 18 years of age. The money raised at this Empty Bowls fundraiser will provide more than 3,000 meals for families in need.

St. Petersburg College Fine Arts and Humanities Chair Jonathan Barnes brought together volunteers from Raymond James, the local arts community and SPC students with RCS Pinellas.

During the meal, one volunteer excitedly announced that they had received a $500 donation.

Kim Kirchman, a ceramics and design professor at St. Petersburg College, was very pleased with how the day turned out. “It was a great way to introduce St. Petersburg College, and our artists to the community. Many students receive services from RCS, so this was a great way to give back to the community.”

Learn more about the ceramics program at SPC.