Dunedin gallery boosts rich diversity of artworks by area artists

Its working studios also enable students with disabilities to transition from high school into the workforce. 
DUNEDIN — The human race has been making art for thousands of years.
Visiting some of the world's top art museums like the Louvre in Paris; the Vatican in Vatican City; the Uffizi in Florence, Italy; the Tate in London; or the Metropolitan in New York City can be an expensive trip.
Fortunately, local aficionados with an appreciation for art need to travel no farther than Dunedin to find notable works by artists who call Pinellas County home.
It's easy to get lost for hours in the Stirling Art Studios & Gallery, situated on the second floor of the Stirling Commons Building at 730 Broadway.
The gallery was established in 1997 by a group of local artists just south of the city's Main Street business district. The studio was destroyed by fire a few years later. After going through some transitions and membership changes, the collective is now in its fifth year.
Today, hundreds of pieces are displayed in the juried exhibition. The gallery showcases the diversity in art mediums through the works of 13 artists, which includes two- and three-dimensional paintings, illustrations and abstracts created from oils, acrylics, charcoals, pastels and watercolors. There are etchings and woodblock prints, colographs, pottery, fiber art, jewelry and stone sculptures.
Artist and gallery co-president Chris Fredrick said the “juried process” is an essential career step for someone who wants to be considered as a serious artist.
“It's an endorsement of the artist's skill and artistic talents,” she said.
The gallery's goal, Fredrick said, is to enhance the community's appreciation and understanding of various art forms and to recognize local artists whose talents warrant the respect of their peers and the general public.
The gallery is so popular among artists that “we currently have a waiting list of juried artists,” she said.
A native of Iowa, Fredrick holds degrees in English and art education. After teaching high school for 21 years, she focused her time on painting. She received two awards from the Dunedin Fine Arts Center and was juried into the Boulder Open Studios for five years.
Works by Bette Saiberlich, Nancy Ping, Claudia Saunders, Ron Brischetto, Rolando Giustini, Vivian Ruegger and Brooke Allison are on permanent display.
• The media of etching and woodblock printing make Saiberlich's graphics modern with a classic look. She was commissioned in 1977 to etch a piece for the Library of Congress, an arrangement of flowers she named, “With Each Lengthening Day — New Hope.” A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, she's known for her printmaking, painting and ceramics. Galleries in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Canada hold her work.
• Ping markets her jewelry designs on national television venues such as Shop at Home Network, ShopNBC, Jewelry Television and the Gem Shopping Network. Some of her collections are Pearlfection, The Signature Series, The World Class Collection, Gemstones of the Holy Bible and Gematherapy.
• Saunders is a portrait artist and abstract expressionist, a type of art expressed purely through the use of form and color. Among those who own her work are former President Jimmy Carter and retired boxers Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard.
• Brischetto describes himself as an “experimental multimedia artist.” He incorporates techniques that include a contemporary approach to the ancient methods of Venetian plaster and sgraffito, adding a layer of glaze, either acrylic paint or varnish, to create depths of color.
He's a retired professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers and the Illuminating Engineering Society, a member of the Colored Pencil Society of America and the Professional Association of Visual Artists. His work was included in the 16th Annual CPSA International Exhibition in Seattle, and he has participated in various "It's Colored Pencil!” shows in Florida.
• Giustini studied painting, design and sculpture at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, where he studied set design for theater and film, and motion picture production and direction. His work has been featured at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and Il Settaccio D'Oro Gallery in Rome. His book on screenwriting has been used by New York University.
• Vivian Ruegger is a fine arts illustrator. She has worked as an archaeologist in the U.S. and Europe, creating the drawings for the finds at the dig sites. Her work will be featured in a solo exhibit on March 14. The reception, “Back to Oz – A Journey on the Yellow Brick Road,” will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Ruegger's upcoming exhibit is one of many events hosted by the gallery. It participates in Dunedin's Wine and Walk every second Friday of the month and on April 11, they will host the Creative Artists Guild reception from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Brooke Allison is a Master Pastelist with the Pastel Society of America, and an oil painter who has exhibited widely throughout the United States.  Her subject matter is the still life, portraiture, and landscape.  She teaches at the Dunedin Fine Art Center and gives national workshops in plein aire pastel and in still life. She is listed in Who's Who in America 2000-2009, Who's Who in the World 2001, and Who's Who in Education 2006.
She is a signature member of the Pastel Society of the West Coast; the Pastel Society of America; the Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club; and the Florida Artist's Group Pastel Society of Tampa Bay.
The gallery also features the work of Jean Rascher, Carin Wiseman, gallery co-president Karen Baker, Noriko Kuehn and Kimberly Engel.
The gallery also features Creative Clay's Transition vocational arts training, taught by Joanna Gerard. The Pinellas County School System partners with Creative Clay Cultural Arts Center of St. Petersburg to help students with disabilities transition from high school into the workforce.  They work with a different artist each day on a variety of mediums, from sculpture to painting and music.  The program also enables students to grow both personally and professionally, develop a rapport with other artists and understand the importance of communications skills to market themselves within the community and sell their artwork at various events throughout the year.
In addition, Stirling offers working studios and classrooms for programs sponsored by the Dunedin Fine Art Center.
The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Appointments and private showings also are available. For more information, call (727) 433-1420 or visit
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