Friday, October 12, 2012


Bird of Heaven, pastel on paper, 1990

I sometimes wonder that those who choose a creative life in the arts do so because it allows them to escape into their heads. While it is certainly a noble venture to embark on an art career, there is nothing noble about the constant struggle to make a living that often accompanies art making.

The fact that artists continue working against all odds speaks volumes about their integrity and resolve. Or does it? Perhaps the solitary, interior process of creation is partly a retreat from an ugly, demanding world.

I’ve often had the experience of slogging through a difficult day of dealing with people and the unpleasant task of making ends meet. At some stressful moment, stuck in traffic, I found myself thinking; If I can only make it to the art studio, I will be safe.
While it is true that making art requires a stepping away from the world, if only to gain better perspective, there comes a time when artists must re-engage with the hurly-burly of daily life. Hard as it is, that is where they must go to find raw material to fuel their creative visions.

Too much time spent in one’s head leads to madness.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Michele Tuegel Contemporary Opening

American Style Magazine recently voted St. Petersburg the top mid-sized city for art for the third impressive year in a row. Move over Miami, St. Pete has arrived. And with the imminent opening of MicheleTuegel Contemporary on Central Avenue, the city can add another gold star to its art crown.

The new downtown gallery of fine craft and design is the dream and hard work of long-time arts advocate, administrator and artist, Michele Tuegel. There are not many people who, over the years, have been bigger advocates for art than Michele.

In 1984, while working at the old Gulf Coast Art Center in Belleair, she staged the first Florida Craftsmen statewide exhibition. Two years later Michele opened the inaugural Florida Craftsmen Gallery on Third Street downtown. And two years later, in 1986, she began her long run as that organization’s first Executive Director.

Florida Craftsmen gained national exposure during Michele’s directorship and now has a major home and gallery on Central Avenue. Michele was not content to stay idle after leaving Florida Craftsmen, and worked for several years as an integral part of the Pinellas County Arts Council.

Running her own gallery seemed like the next logical step for such a tireless arts cheerleader. Many in the community would say; “What took you so long?” Michele’s answer could be that she was saving up for a flashy red convertible and trip to Japan. Now those bucket list items will have to wait.

There will be two openings at the Gallery, Friday, October 12, 3 pm-8 pm and Saturday, October 13, 6 pm-9 pm. Michele Tuegel Contemporary is at 320 Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg. (727) 823-1100.
(photos courtesy Cathy Lasky,


Friday, October 5, 2012

News From Studio A

One of the most frequently asked questions of artists is the one that goes, “How long did it take you to make that?” It is a legitimate question for someone who has never made a painting, or composed a song, or created a sculpture. That person’s frame of reference tends to be elsewhere. They know how long it takes, for instance, to bake brownies or build a deck, so making art must likewise be given a definite number of hours or days.

The correct answer ought to be, “It takes long enough,” for in reality, artists must deal with the kinds of restraints that cannot be measured in time. We say we don’t have time right now; the yard needs mowing, clothes need washing or bills need to be paid. The real culprit is not a lack of time, but a lack of confidence.

There are no how-to-books or instructions that I know of for creating an original vision. The artist must learn again and again to plumb the depths of their experience for that single spark. Confidence is essential and some days we simply don’t have enough. Those are the days we tell ourselves we don’t have enough time. We need to grocery shop. We need to take the cat to the vet.

How long did it take me to make that art? It took a lifetime.