Date ArticleType
1/27/2020 Member News

Seventh Annual MUSE Awards Recognize Five Local “Muses”

The MUSE Awards will celebrate artistic inspiration on Friday, February 28, 2020 at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg at 7:00 p.m.  This seventh annual benefit for the arts will recognize the breadth and beauty of art and culture in our City of the Arts, and pay tribute to the individuals who continue to inspire and guide St. Petersburg to its standing as an international arts destination.  
Leap year is the perfect time to take an imaginative and immersive leap into the future of the arts!  We hope you'll join us for a night of unexpected surprises that will open your eyes, challenge your perceptions, and ignite your passion for what the arts can be -- without limits.  Also, no need to to fear long speeches or rubber chicken!  MUSE promises some of St. Pete's finest entertainers -- present and future -- along with a delectable array of gourmet bites, creatively crafted cocktails and decadent dessert bars.
 For six years the 
MUSE Awards has been the arts party of the year -- and 2020 is no exception!




Recognizes a beloved St. Petersburg area artist (of any discipline) who is a stellar representative of the “City of the Arts” to the world.’

Duncan McClellan has been a tireless promoter of the arts in St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay.  He is known as a generous mentor, teacher, and social innovator.  An artist all his life, glass is his most recent medium.  After successfully working with leather and clay, he finally had the opportunity to learn to blow glass at a studio in Ybor City, Florida in 1987.  Duncan continued his studies with Fred Kahl and John Brekke at the New York Experimental Glass Workshop, and studied in Murano, Italy.  On returning to Florida, he worked for twenty years in Sigma Studio with Chuck Boux and other local glassblowers. It was during this time that he began to develop his vision for a thriving arts-centric community in the Tampa Bay Area, and  St Petersburg seemed to offered a fertile combination of possibilities. 

In 2010, Duncan McClellan purchased and transformed a 7,800 square foot former tomato packing plant in St. Petersburg into a live/work gallery space, and was encouraged by then Mayor Rick Baker to work with fellow artists Mark Aeling, Catherine Woods, Sal St. Germaine and others to help form the Warehouse Arts District. This district has since become a thriving enclave of over one hundred studios, artists, and galleries.

The subsequent artistic and economic development of St Petersburg has prompted McClellan to travel throughout the country, and he has assisted others in developing similarly arts focused community development projects.  Duncan continues to actively support arts at home by serving on the boards of several nonp-rofit arts organizations, including the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance until his term expired last year.

In 2015, the nonprofit DMG School Project was founded by McClellan, helping to further spread arts education to the general public and working with Pinellas County schools to expose students to the multi faceted challenges of the creative process.

Duncan states, “St. Petersburg has received national and International attention because of the variety and concentration of its vibrant arts community, which is now an important economic driver for the city.”  It is also because of his exemplary leadership.




Recognizes an artist or organization that has achieved excellence in the written word in fiction or nonfiction, journalism, poetry or prose, print or digital formats

Since 2011, Your Real Stories has produced live programming as well as photographic and video exhibitions that tell the stories of people whose voices and perspectives are often not heard or celebrated. YRS uses the tools of journalism, storytelling, and theater to engage communities in conversations about tough topics. Their unique brand of  theatrical journalism is a process in which local community members are interviewed, and from those interviews scripts are created that tell engaging human stories founded on the principles of inclusion and excellent journalism. These stories go deeper than the sound bite culture we have become too familiar with and instead take a deep dive into disparate, local perspectives, asking the audience to reflect on their personal roles and responsibilities to humanity in the past, present, and future. The YRS vision is to create, grow, and sustain an inclusive movement of people and communities who strive to explore and understand their own stories and the experiences of others.

Lillian is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Your Real Stories, Inc., and Co-Creator/Director of its Decades of Day Work, St Pete Stories and the Off the Wall  series as well as the annual week-long storytelling festival, Story Days in Tampa Bay. Lillian is a former television news reporter/anchor/producer and former professor at Indiana University, the University of Missouri School of Journalism and resident faculty at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Lillian holds an undergraduate degree in music from Defiance College and a master of music education (voice) and Ph.D. in Communication and Culture from Indiana University.

Jaye is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Your Real Stories, Inc., and the Co-Creator and Director of the Decades of Day Work and St. Pete Stories series. She is also the co-creator of the Story Days in Tampa Bay Festival, now in its seventh year. Together with Dr. Lillian Dunlap, she has written over 70 original scripts based on the lives of local community members. Jaye is a singer, theatre professional, and voice instructor.



Recognizes an individual or couple who, with their time and treasure, generously supports organizations and/or individuals that work in or concern the arts.

Hal and Willi relocated here from San Francisco in January of 2000.  They immediately immersed themselves in the local arts scene, attending theater and arts events.  What they love about St. Petersburg is how accessible both performing and visual artists have been.  Between them, they hold Board seats on several arts-related organizations, including American Stage, Jobsite Theater, Creative Clay, and First Night St. Pete.  They feel it’s critical that they and others support local arts, particularly as public funding has dwindled…and, they say, "It’s fun"! 



Suzanne Pomerantzeff
 Recognizes an artist or organization that has achieved excellence in the performance art field to include music, dance, theater and/or interdisciplinary which is presented to an audience.

Pomerantzeff co-founded the Academy of Ballet Arts 50 years ago recognizing that an injury was going to halt her own performing career.  Since then she has helped countless young people navigate their earliest journeys into the labyrinthian world of movement-as-a-career.  She developed the dance department at Gibbs High School’s Pinellas County Center for the Arts, and operates the St. Petersburg Ballet Company and the St. Petersburg Folk Ensemble of Russian folk dance out of Dance Academy Central at 1st Avenue North and 29th Street.  

The Academy of Ballet Arts is one of the most established dance studios in the Tampa Bay area offering professional dance instruction to boys and girls as young as 3.  Classes are for beginners to adults.   ABA primary focus is to provide professional dance instruction to an under-served urban community known as Midtown in the heart of St. Petersburg.  Dancers have gone on to perform at prestigious ballet companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Met, Cirque de Soleil, Cleveland Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, David Parsons, Frankfort Opera Ballet, Houston Ballet, Kiel Opera Ballet, Lion King (Simba, Broadway Co.), Milwaukee Ballet, Moiseyev Dance Company, Mummenschanz, Pennsylvania Ballet, Repertory Dance Theater, Riverdance, San Diego Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and more.



 Recognizes an artist or organization that has achieved excellence in the visual arts which include ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, glass-blowing, printmaking, design, crafts, photography, video, filmmaking and media arts.

YaeL Kelley lives and works at her studio in the Artist Enclave of Historic Kenwood.  Her eclectic heritage influence her current explorations. YaeL was born in Ohio and grew up in Florida, where she sold her first work at age 14.  She has since lived in England, Arizona and Texas. While in England she attended Suffolk College of Art and Design.  She has worked in the visual arts, in museums and in the theatre.  Her career spans more than 40 years as a professional painter, arts advocate and certified instructor/ demonstration artist for several major arts manufacturers, which include Crayola Crayons, Winsor and Newton, and Daler Rowney.  She is a past president and artist in residence of the Center for Contemporary Arts of Abilene, past vice-president of the Texas Visual Arts Association, served the city of St. Petersburg on the Arts Advisory Committee and the Mayor’s Transition Team for Arts and Culture.  She is a founding member of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.   YaeL has enjoyed many solo shows and group exhibitions throughout her career and is represented in St. Petersburg by Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery. Her paintings are in collections internationally.

This year's MUSE Awards 2020 poster is D. YaeL Kelley's work entitled Seven - A Thousand Portals.  "Seven invites you to meditate on the universality of numbers, their importance and resonance through time, culture, religion and science.  It explores my understanding of what I call Corn Mother Concepts. The binding connection of love. Our understanding of ourselves within our community.  My grandmother taught me that I was a part of my community, that the health of that community depended upon me and that my identity was not who I claimed to be but who claimed me."





ThThe St. Petersburg Arts Alliance strives to be the community voice, the umbrella organization for the arts -- facilitating artists, arts organizations and creative businesses to work collaboratively; empowering the growth of the arts community, and driving arts-related economic development.