The Art of Community

ST. PETERSBURG -

About 15 months ago WUSF introduced you to an artist, a Hurricane Katrina evacuee, who settled in the St. Petersburg neighborhood of Roser Park. This weekend is the Fourth Annual Historic Roser Park Art Festival and we thought what better time to check in with artist Linda Newcomb.


Linda Newcomb sits in her one-room apartment. At her feet, her dog Chris chews on a bone. Outside her second-story windows is the bright green of old trees.

'Lucky me, the hurricane blew me right to paradise,' says Newcomb. 'Roser Park is, I don't know, it's just special. It's beautiful to look at everywhere you look.'

Newcomb says the community lifted her spirits after Hurricane Katrina forced her to leave New Orleans.

Like most artists, Newcomb's artwork reflects her life. And like her life, her artwork has changed since moving to Roser Park.

Now, her sculptures are crafted from seed pods, palm fronds and other natural materials from her neighborhood. Her jewelry is imprinted with palm trees. Her photographs are of Roser Park's natural settings.

The historic neighborhood of more than 100 homes tucked behind the Bayfront Medical Center just south of downtown St. Petersburg. The community was created around 1914 by Charles Martin Roser.

Newcomb's landlord, Kai Warren, has lived there for 26 years. He credits the tightly knit community with convincing city hall to designate Roser Park as local historic district.

The neighbors used to hold weekly liter walks to push the revitalization along. That's now down to just two major clean ups a year one in the spring prior to its annual tour of historic homes and one in the fall just prior to its annual art festival.

'You can't find a better venue for an art festival, it's shady, nice breezes, a beautiful creek, lush landscaping which is part of Charles Roser's idea for a neighborhood,' Warren says.

The 4th Annual Historic Roser Park Art Festival is this Saturday and Sunday.

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