Saturday, May 30, 2009

In A New Light

This past January, the Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo closed it doors for good, victim of a bad economy, poor attendance, and perhaps a bit of public apathy.

The fate of the Museum's 450 piece permanent collection became a big concern, and most feared it would be sold off piece by piece to other institutions.

Quite the opposite happened. In a gutsy and hopeful move, St. Petersburg College brokered a deal with the Museum in which the College received the complete collection. All the works of art will stay in the area and be housed in various College buildings.

A big chunk of the collection is being showcased in an exhibition at Florida International Museum in St. Petersburg. The exhibition, "In A New Light," will feature one of my works I called A Close Shave, and that title now seems appropriate for the entire collection. Read more about the exhibition here.

The exhibition is at the Florida International Museum at St. Petersburg College, 244 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg, through Oct. 4. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 adults, $6 seniors and military, $5 students and free for children 6 and under. (727) 341-7904.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Good Things, Small Packages

In my extended gig as a health food store "vitamologist," word got out that I also dabbled in the Arts. Before long, I was asked to exhibit work in the store cafe, next to the "all you can eat" salad bar and across from the "grab 'n go" deli.

It occurred to me one day, while noshing on an organic radish, that in a restaurant setting a different kind of art exhibit would be better appreciated. Thus was born the Grab 'n Go Art Show, featuring scores of original 3"x 5" drawings covering the deli walls. Customers simply pulled off the drawing they liked and left $5.00. I made enough money from that exhibition to buy more art supplies.

The Grab 'n Go Art Show will make a reappearance at the July Cool Art Show in The Cloiseum in St. Petersburg. Above are samples of many new works that will be available.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Night of the Driving Deluge

Last night it rained like fifty-five years ago. It rained like when I was a kid in New Port Richey, Florida summer thunderstorms, bucketfulls coming down and I couldn't wait to get my swimsuit
on and get out in it. Racing around the yard like a space ranger, soggy grass squishing my toes and the glow of my dad's cigarette on the dark front porch. Then the exit, sitting, out of breath, wrapped in a thick towel with a cup of hot chocolate.

Last night, when it rained the first wet drop, I went inside and watched.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On The Road With A Green Bean

This past weekend, I drove up to Gainesville to see what changes had taken place since attending university there. Rolling into town at twilight, the first rains of summer greeted me, and provided a backdrop to the city of trees. I had forgotten how beautiful is that part of north central Florida.

An Argus Bean toy camera sat on the dashboard, ready to document any discoveries of Old Florida lazing down some country road. My friend and I found the past in places like Cedar Key on the Gulf and Micanopy, lost in time near mysterious Paynes Prairie.

Day trips are great for pulling you out of the ordinary.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Nature Boy

While studying art at the University of Florida, I took a Photography 101 class with the great Jerry Uelsmann. His first assignment, called "Evidence of Man," challenged us to explore how man had encroached on nature. Taking borrowed Pentax in hand, I set off to the wild and ruddy woods of campus. My first photograph turned out to be a discarded beer can in Beta Woods.

I recently gave myself a birthday present of an Argus Bean toy camera. At five mega-pixels with video capabilities, the green Bean is a most sophisticated toy. I especially like the sepia mode and, coupled with gee-whiz Photoshop effects, some unusual photos are possible.

With a nod to Mr. Uelsmann, I set out on another photo assignment. Now forty-four years after the first, man's encroachment on nature is complete. I retitled the assignment "Evidence of Nature."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Every Day Is Mothers Day

My mother, June Sykes Gaston, Virginia farm girl and child of the Depression, knows all about economic hard times. Youngest girl in a family of eight, she worked along side her brothers in the fields at a time when everyone grew what they ate and bartered the rest.

She made it out of the mountains, married a serviceman from New Jersey and created a life for herself and her family in the Florida flatlands. Today and everyday I celebrate my mom in this her 87th year.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Florida Artist Group Exhibition

Florida Artist Group (FLAG), the oldest statewide organization of professional artists, is holding its annual symposium and exhibition at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.

The exhibition runs through July 18, and demonstrates the variety and excellence of artists living in Florida. I am pleased to have this mixed-media painting, Artemis, included in the show.

Monday, May 4, 2009

La Mariposa

I first met Egberdien van Rossum in 1990 at the Mayfaire Art Festival in Lakeland, Florida. I knew right away here was a unique free spirit, someone unafraid to be different. She, in fact, presented herself as a piece of art, having enjoyed a full creative life in Europe and America.

In Holland, Egberdien knew some of the CoBrA artists, and later ran her own gallery on the Caribbean island of Curacao. After moving to Lakeland, she befriended many local artists and for a number of years hosted a television program on the arts.

Several years ago, Egberdien returned to Holland, where she continues to participate in the Rotterdam art scene. She has even done some modelling for Dutch magazines, proving the adage that art keeps you young.

I am fortunate to have Egberdien as a friend, and continue to marvel at her vitality. Did I mention she also makes jewelry. (photo courtesy of Nancy Cervenka)