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East County Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020 1 year ago

Art and About: Over the Bridge

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Just a short drive away, St. Petersburg offers a plethora of cultural institutions, from various art museums featuring mixed media to the newly opened St. Pete Pier.
by: Su Byron Contributor

St. Petersburg and Sarasota share an artful vibe. But the city across Sunshine Skyway Bridge takes it to the next level. St. Pete’s downtown core is packed with museums, galleries and cultural attractions. Within a few short blocks, visitors can explore the Salvador Dalí Museum, Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center, Museum of Fine Arts, Florida CraftArt Gallery and many more galleries, art spaces, artsy boutiques, bookstores and plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes. Health and social distancing guidelines are still in effect — and a few venues might be online only. Please call or check websites before you go. But it’s worth the trip. And what a trip it is.

Dalí explored the murky intersection of science, religion, alchemy, mysticism and mythology. Dalí’s Sacred Science: Religion and Mysticism reveals those explorations in a compelling exhibit at the Dalí Museum. The exhibit comprises 54 prints and mixed-media pieces from five projects. “Mythology” showcases the gods and heroes of the Greek pantheon. “Don Quixote” honors the Romantic quest of Miguel de Cervantes’ tragic knight. “Aliyah” celebrates the creation of Israel with scenes of battle and beauty. “Moses and Monotheism” offers the ultimate origin story with a portrait of Moses in silver. “The Alchemy of the Philosophers” draws arcane portraits of history’s transformative minds. Dalí’s quest is a series of questions, not an ideology. Your head will be full of questions after seeing his enigmatic art. Through Nov. 1 at The Dalí Museum, 1 Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg; 727- 823-3767; TheDali.org.

“Finding Your Way” showcases Rob Stern’s recent art at Duncan McClellan Gallery. Stern’s work has a fluid, organic quality. His hot-glass sculptural creations evoke the beauty of earth and sky. Stern’s work can be monumental. Here, you’ll see some of his more intimate creations. His “Cane Leaves” installation captures the variegated forms of sugarcane and blossoms with vibrant color. His blue-hued “Wall Star” glows with inner light — and connects the cosmic glory of a nebula with a sea-dweller’s starfish form. By appointment only. Oct. 9 through Dec. 11 at Duncan McClellan Gallery, 2342 Emerson Ave. S., St. Petersburg; 855-436-4527; DMGlass.com.

“Derrick Adams: Buoyant” deflates racial stereotypes and celebrates the Black experience at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. Black people and their desire and ability to partake in swimming and water activities has long been seen through an incorrect and stereotypical lens. The truth is that misconception is a fossilized attitude from the days of segregation when the finest swimming pools and beaches were “white only.” Adams changes the conversation in this vibrantly colorful mixed-media series. Here, Black Americans enjoy the floating world in normalized images of leisure, joy and love. The series draws from Adams’ own experience and a 1967 feature in Ebony magazine showing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. enjoying a time of leisure with his family in Jamaica. Adams’ images are a vacation for the mind. They will leave you wondering why such images are so rare, even in contemporary American culture. As of this writing, the museum is scheduled to reopen in September with limited attendance and health and social distancing requirements. You can stay connected to the museum with #MFAFromHome. Sept. 12 through Nov. 29 at Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg; 727-896-2667; MFAStPete.org.

The Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center is exclusively devoted to the mind-blowing, blown-glass artistry of Dale Chihuly. Its permanent collection boasts many stunning pieces. The “Blue Neon Tumbleweed” chandelier resembles an illuminated sea anemone comprising countless writhing blue filaments. The “Ruby Red Icicle” chandelier is a hanging assemblage of more than 300 shards of crimson glass. “Float Boats” swamps a tiny wooden boat with spheres of iridescent color. The “Azul de Medianoche” chandelier is a cone of undulating, azure-colored snake-like forms. Chihuly’s work is bursting with life — more like exotic, aquatic life forms than something shaped by human hands. His glass sculpture reinvented the medium and inspired a new generation of artists to follow in his footsteps. A walk through this exhibit will show you why. Morean Arts Center, 720 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; 727-896-4527;
MoreanArtsCenter.org/chihuly.

Florida CraftArt gallery thinks outside the fine art box with inspired, collectible creations in clay, fiber, glass, wood and other traditional craft mediums. Featured art includes William Kidd’s ceramic sculptures of the life aquatic, the archetypal forms of Eric Folsom’s brass jewelry and the colorful flora and fauna of Mariel Bass’ inventive glass sculpture. There’s no cookie-cutter art here, just a gorgeous range of individual expression. Expect to be mesmerized. 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; 727- 821-7391; FloridaCraftsmen.net.

Other St. Pete Delights

The long wait is finally over! The 26-acre St. Pete Pier and Pier District opened in July. The complex includes five restaurants, a marketplace with outdoor vendors, spectacular works of public art, the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center, a playground, fishing deck, the St. Pete Museum of History and tree-lined walkways along the bay. Parking is available at surrounding lots for $2 an hour. Masks and social distancing recommended. 800 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg; 727-822-PIER; StPetePier.org.

The Vinoy Park Hotel is a grand old Mediterranean Revival Hotel built in 1925. It’s been restored to its former glory and rechristened The Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club. Sip a Campari and soda or another refreshing beverage on the veranda, and watch the world float by at the marina across the street. 501 5th Ave. NE, St. Petersburg; 727-894-1000; Marriott.com

Haslam’s Book Store is bursting with more than 300,000 titles and a staff of devoted literati who will find the title you seek. The stacks are stacked with classic literature, history, horror, romance, sci-fi and enough coffee table books to shatter your coffee table. 2025 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; 727-822-8616; Haslams.com.

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