Tanya Pistillo has a vision for her hometown.
The lifelong Largo resident hopes to unite the community via her new West Bay gallery, Wandering Star, which she is currently working feverishly to open.
And even though the self-professed straight shooter admits she has little working capital and no formal art training, she possesses something more vital for what she plans to do — talent and passion.
“I’ve always been artistic, ever since I was eight years old,” she said during a break. “And I’m very community driven. So I started thinking what could I do that’s bigger for this community?”
“I’ve never taken a formal art class,” she added. “But if all I have is my hands, put it together with my heart and I’m unstoppable.”
Pistillo’s vision is for Wandering Star to be a community art gallery, a hub of family friendly art, activities and exhibits and a unifying force for the downtown district.
She has a unique ability to turn anything into art — "I can take your junk and make it look pretty," she said. But unlike many artists, she didn’t want to just open a gallery to display her creations and have people walk through it and leave.
She wanted to have a place where people could come and create, feel a sense of community and purpose she feels has been lacking here for many years.
“I grew up here and I’ve seen all the changes, the worst of times,” she said. “If they really want to redevelop the downtown, they need to do it through the community itself.”
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Pistillo plans to have regular art shows at Ulmer Park, located right across the street from her shop. She wants to have merchant parties at the gallery, as well as art summer camps for kids and ‘mommies night out’ events.
And she really wants to recognize and highlight the history of Largo by bringing some of the love she has for her community to the forefront of her vision.
“The first big event I plan to have in October is called Fall in Love With Largo,” she explained. “I want people to submit any historical photos they have of the city so I can incorporate them into the show.”
“I want to bring the history back to this community. All my events will incorporate some sort of Largo history.”
Pistillo’s goals may be lofty, but she’s not just sitting back and hoping they will come true.
She has a meeting with the city on Thursday regarding her Ulmer Park plans; she’s pounded the pavement visiting neighboring business owners to gauge their interest; and she’s created a Kickstarter account to help get funding for her gallery.
She said she’s the type of person who has a dream, goes after it and then works at it until it become a reality.
“I’ve been known as wandering star since I was a little girl. There’s a saying that goes ‘not all who wander are lost’, and I’m definitely not lost.”
“I’m extremely passionate about making this happen for the community.”