As I settle in the beautiful city of St. Petersburg, I can’t help but look around in wonder? After living and working in Manhattan (and nearby Hastings On Hudson) for the last 37 years, Florida is a BIG change! I’ve only been here for a few weeks, but two of my children graduated from Eckerd College so I am fairly savvy to the area.
There are a plethora of choices when it comes to picking a lifestyle here. I have met people who live on Beach Drive in the heart of downtown St Petersburg; friends who make their homes within a few hundred yards of the Gulf of Mexico, and some acquaintances who experience the desperation of having no place at all to call home.
I ask myself, what am I doing here? What is my justification for picking this spot? What do I hope to accomplish? While some of my peers are taking a much-needed sabbatical, and many of my colleagues (who are just a few years ahead of me) are thinking about retirement, I have chosen to create a live/work situation across the street from St. Petersburg High School in the Historic Kenwood Arts District of downtown St. Pete. Most recently, Kenwood won first place in the “Physical Revitalization-Single Neighborhood LINK.” (continue reading below slide show)….
This decision honors a commitment made after years of great personal adversity. Bed-ridden from SLE and renal complications in my late thirties, into my mid-forties, I had a lot of time to think about my life– and life in general. Although I had been amply blessed and was grateful for much of what I received in terms of the health of my children and financial well-being, I began to realize that I had not been living up to my potential. I received a very clear spiritual message. Illness was the universe’s way of making me tune into a much larger mission.
This new thirst for knowledge and longing for empowerment led me towards a feminist sociological investigation into the arts, history, and science of motherhood and mothering. From the ridiculous to the sublime I screamed, sang, and shouted from the stage with my band Housewives On Prozac. Slowly, a vision for mothers in the visual and performing arts crystallized. (You can read more about this at Mutha Magazine. LINK is HERE).
Now, sixteen years later (and twenty-seven years after my first child), I am bringing the latest incarnation of the Museum of Motherhood to 538 28th St. N. St. Petersburg, Florida 33713. The Museum has popped up in Dobbs Ferry, NY (2003-2005), 401 E. 84th St. NYC (2011-2014), and now: here. The aim of this newest space is to forge community connections while highlighting exhibitions about mothers, fathers, and families. I am so very thrilled that Alexia Nye Jackson has agreed to share her fantastic work titled “Mother The Job,” an arts-based, economic exploration of motherhood in the U.S.A.
Also included are the ProCreate Project Archive and assorted fine art by Anna Rose Bain, Helen Knowles, Vee Malnar, Ronni Komarow, Noa Shay, Norman Gardner, and others. The Museum will open its doors to the public beginning September 2016. Hours will be Thursday & Friday 11-6pm and Saturday 1-4, by appointment only for tours, talks, films, and special activities. Visitors may access our extensive collection of books in the Andrea O’Reilly Library. Call 207.504.3001 (877.711.6667).
We will also launch three new initiatives in addition to Mother Studies courses online, the JourMS (Journal of Mother Studies), and the Annual Academic M.O.M. Conference each May in NYC. Those additions include the “I <3 M.O.M. Conference” in February; featuring Arts, Academics, and Inspiration, and “A Night At The Museum” initiative on Air BnB, whereby guests will be able to spend a night at the Museum, and by summer 2017 we will offer non-profit residencies for writers, artists, and scholars in the area of mother studies.
As the Museum’s founder and director, I am modeling my commitment to this current exhibition space after Eleanor Morse (among others). Eleanor helped to co-found the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg circa 1982 after her (and her husbands’) personal collection of Dali paintings spawned what is now arguably one of the centerpieces of St. Petersburg’s cultural landscape. Let the good work continue. ~ M. Joy Rose (website)
**Read more about my commitment to the Tampa Bay area: Feminism, Football, and Family [Article LINK]