Dec 292023
 

This year The James Museum partnered with SHINE Mural Festival and Chenlin Cai to create the mural seen above, The Path We Came. It was inspired by the museum’s current exhibition From Far East to West: The Chinese American Frontier.

Dec 292023
 

Hung Liu “Portrait of China Mary”, 2006, Oil on canvas

Currently at The James Museum in St. Pete, is From Far East to West: The Chinese American Frontier, an informative show that includes many beautiful paintings. There’s so much history in America that often doesn’t get taught in school. This is a great opportunity to learn about this immigration story through artwork as well as text.

From the museum about the exhibition-

While European American settlers gradually pushed the United States frontier westward throughout the 1800s, the West coast of the country was developing independently as well. Accelerated by the discovery of gold mid-century, the population boom included Chinese immigrants who crossed the Pacific Ocean to California.

Most 19th century Chinese immigrants came to their new country from the coastal Canton region (province of Guangdong today) in southeastern China. Starting over on a different continent away from familiar surroundings and culture would be challenging, but for many decades anti-Chinese hostility and exclusion laws made settling in the United States even more difficult. The achievements of Chinese immigrants paved a path for future generations and are a testament to strength and perseverance.

The foundation for the exhibition highlights narratives of Chinese America from the 1850s to the 1930s. The paintings-all created by Chinese Americans in the 21st century-reflect inspiration from this history. The painters are also fueled by their own, more recent immigration stories to the United States after China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and their rigorous art training in the government-sponsored movement of Socialist Realism. After China opened to the rest of the world in the late 1970s, many Chinese artists-like Mian Situ, Jie Wei Zhou, Benjamin Wu, Hung Liu, and Z.S. Liang, all featured here were inspired to immigrate to the United States in search of greater opportunity.

Here, these artists’ historical interpretations speak to culture, identity, community, and resilience. Related objects and ephemera from the period support these stories. From the Gold Rush to Angel Island, this exhibition reveals often overlooked but significant contributions and perspectives of Chinese immigrants that deepen our understanding of U.S. history.

Hung Liu “Dandelion with Small Bird”, 2017 Mixed media

About the above painting from the museum-

Dandelions and their fluffy seed pods can be found anywhere in the world and thrive wherever they land. Their migratory nature allows them to survive a journey across vast lands even across oceans and take root anywhere in the world. For Liu, the dandelion represents her own tenacity and ability to thrive in the face of adversity.

The dandelions, fragile in nature and tattered by the lightest breeze, mimic how images, and personal narratives, too, can be scattered by time and the winds of history —as well as by the rhythms of feast and famine …
Hung Liu

Mian Situ “Blasting a Route Through the Sierra Nevada, 1865, Central Pacific Railroad”, 2018, Oil on canvas

Mian Situ “The Gold Seekers , Chinese Camp, 1850”, 2015, Oil on canvas

Jie Wei Zhou “Dragon Parade”, 2012, Oil on Linen

This exhibition is on view until 1/28/24.

Dec 122023
 


Heiress Gallery in St. Pete is currently showing Melissa Spitz’s solo show You Have Nothing to Worry About, a moving portrait of her mother’s mental illness and substance abuse.

From the gallery about the exhibition-

In her solo exhibition at HEIRESS, Spitz presents medium-to large-format prints of her iconic images. The works are installed in a chaotic environment, scattered amongst the detritus of familial tragedy: her mother is found in the context of hundreds of pills and pill bottles, a glimpse into the chaos that Spitz and her family have dealt with for many years. Thousands of 4×6 glossy photos are scattered on a table in the center of the space and invites gallery visitors to attempt to make sense of the nostalgia that they hold. In addition to photographs, Spitz has included new sculptural works including ten enameled hammers titled, You Are the Nail, which encourages an examination of the over-reliance of pharmaceutical solutions in the United States. Spitz’s work freezes moments of chaos in time, to be dissected and understood by the artist after the fact. The majority of her most intimate traumatic life experiences are captured through her lens, and finds a second life in the digital sphere on Instagram, to a community of over 50 thousand followers, which blurs the lines between catharsis and entertainment.

From the artist about the exhibition-

Since 2009, I have been making photographs of my mentally ill, substance-abusing mother. Her diagnoses change frequently-from alcoholism to dissociative identity disorder–and my relationship with her has been fraught with animosity for as long as I can remember. I am fully aware that my mother thrives on being the center of attention and that, at times, our portrait sessions encouraged her erratic behavior.

The photographs are simultaneously upsetting and encouraging; honest and theatrical; loving and hateful. By turning the camera toward my mother and my relationship with her, I capture her behavior as an echo of my own emotional response. The images function like an on going conversation.

The series in installation form encourages an examination of the role prescription drugs play in the United States. Aiming to prompt discussions on the cultural, social, and individual implications of an overreliance on pharmaceutical solutions. Through visual metaphors and imagery, You Have Nothing to Worry about continues to raise awareness about the need for a balanced and holistic approach to health and well-being. While acknowledging the limitations and potential pitfalls of relying solely on prescription medications.

The immersive exhibition functions as a thought-provoking commentary on the pervasive and complex issue of prescription drug culture in America. Through the meticulous arrangement of pill bottles, pills, photographs, and family ephemera, I seek to engage viewers in a dialogue about the consequences of our society’s reliance on pharmaceutical drugs.

The Vanity, pictured above, which includes family notes and photos, adds even more depth to the family’s struggles.

From the artist-

I have always been interested in sculptural installations and photography. Sandy Skoglund, Jeff Wall and Carrie Mae Weems are a few big names who have directly inspired me. The obsessive nature of details and experience only add to telling a story and I’ve been eager to find a way to participate. This vanity belonged to my great-aunt Sophie and has been in my bedroom my whole life, it went to college and graduate school with me, and my brother has been storing it since I moved to New York. This exhibition presented the perfect opportunity to utilize it. Informed by actual experiences, The Vanity, showcases family ephemera, letters from my mom, pill bottles, scattered pills, lipsticks and flickering candles. The mirror allows viewers to reflect on their own shared familiarity.

Spitz also created You Are The Nail, pictured below, for the exhibition.

Her description of the work-

I’m not sure when I first heard the phrase “when your only tool is a hammer, you begin to see everything as a nail” but it was used regarding my mom being over medicated and her prescriptions mixing, sending her into another psychotic episode. It wasn’t the doctors’ fault, or mom’s or the pharmacist but the drugs, they were to blame. I was frustrated and angry and confused, but too young to understand that doctors received kickbacks for writing certain prescriptions and that patients like my mom were a goldmine. I do want to be clear that I know anti-psychotic medications have saved people’s lives and mom would not be able to function normally without a carefully balanced mix of mood stabilizers, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills. But all too quickly do I find doctors in almost any capacity pushing drugs on me…I was alarmed to learn that the United States pharmaceutical industry generates over 110 bilion dollars of revenue each year.

You are the Nail is a series of ten hammers representing the ten most prescribed anti-psychotic / antidepressant pharmaceutical drugs in the United States. Several of which my mom is prescribed. Informed by Abraham Maslow’s theory of over reliance, you are the nail visually depicts our mental health field’s greatest tool, prescription drugs. The hammers are titled, Zoloft, Lexapro, Trazadone, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, Seroquel, Celexa, Vensir and Abilify.

This exhibition closes 1/13/24.

Dec 122023
 

Artists from L to R: Julie Schumer, Vivien Collens (sculpture), Maggie Kruger, and Blair Vaughn-Gruler

Renee Mendler, “Rainbow Vision I and II”, Acrylic, Gold leaf, and resin on panel (left) and “Pure Joy No. 10 and No. 14”, Acrylic on canvas by Hans Petersen

Imani Bilál, “If Dreams Could Wander”, Acylic paint and ink on canvas (left) and work from the “Accumulation” series by Blair Vaughn-Gruler, Oil, mixed media, wood, on canvas

Michelle Gordon, “Ocean Splash”, Oil on canvas

This past weekend was the Second Saturday ArtWalk in St. Pete, Florida with numerous galleries staying open into the evening. Above are images from the recently opened Drew Marc Gallery, part of The Factory St. Pete’s complex in the Warehouse District. In addition to the artwork, the gallery also had live painting by Michelle Gordon.

At Morean Center for Clay is Lauren Hope: Time (pictured below), a solo exhibition that includes the artist’s ceramic work and photography.

From the gallery-

...Time is an investigation of alternative photographic process, using clay as a catalyst for record keeping. Using ceramic vessels as pin hole cameras, Lauren captures moments in time and transfers them onto ceramic surfaces. This exhibition will be a collection of photographic prints, vessels, cyanotypes, and handmade pinhole cameras. 

 Her statement about her work-

My work is heavily influenced by the complexity of hues, forms, and patterns found in the natural world. This studio practice has become deeply cathartic, signifying the ephemeral and fleeting notions of time.

Ceramic vessels within this collection are wheel-thrown, altered, and sculpted. Every striation carved serves as a visual representation and a gentle reminder of the delicate passing moment. This method of subtractive carving has become transformative, developing into deep states of meditation and reflection.

Experimental photography is used as an explorative process, allowing for the convergence of internal and external experiences. By casting memories and photographic recollections onto stoneware, I attempt to immortalize my profound experiences and revelations.

This exhibition will be on view until 12/30.

For selections from additional galleries, head to the next page.

Dec 082023
 

“Eulogy for Twilight: Ad Memoriam”, 2023, Oil on canvas

“Golden Pond”, 2023, Oil on canvas

“A Stream for Fiver”, 2023, Oil on canvas

Morean Arts Center in St. Pete is currently showing Remember When, a selection of dramatic and beautiful work by Tampa based artist Alex Espalter-Torres.

From the artist about the work-

“Unlike conventional landscapes that attempt to capture an exact image, my artwork has always been my personal narrative; an amalgam of places, tragedies and triumphs, fears and hopes, and dreams of the unknown. The one constant in my vision is the impact of the sea and sky on this earth, both experienced and imagined.

I have always worked in layers; nothing is whole or complete on the surface. There are experiences running beneath my images, much like currents in a river or riptides in the sea. The composition is often torn and dripping, showing droplets of the past and visions of the future.

My works have evolved over the years to remove myself as the sole narrator. You, the viewer, are invited to interpret each image and insert your layers and reactions as a reflection of yourself.”

This exhibition closes 12/30/23.

Dec 072023
 

“Fluorescent Dwarf”, 2017, Acrylic and water based aerosol on wood panel, pattern traced from found branch with wood boring beetle larvae trails (the source branch is on display directly to the left)

“The Expanding Universe”, 2017, Hand cut (jigsaw) plywood, water based spray, nails, pattern traced from found branch with wood boring beetle larvae trails

“Transcend and Include”, 2019, Wood boring beetle larvae paths traced from a dead cedar tree hand-cut from re-purposed Aluplast, water based spray

Community Foundation Tampa Bay works to match people and organizations with the resources they need to carry out projects that make a positive impact on local communities. In their space in St. Pete they also exhibit work by local artists. Currently on view are selections from Kenny Jensen’s Paths of Consumption series.

From the artist about this work-

As a Florida native who spent much of my childhood outdoors both in the city and the country, I have always had an essential connection to our unique natural environment. This relationship has steadily deepened over the years through my evolving art practice, and related ecological research. Becoming a parent has also raised the stakes and heightened my ecological awareness and concern. As a result there is a tension present in my work – An earnest desire to share the wonder and mystery I continually encounter in common, overlooked nature while also expressing grief and frustration over what is actively being lost.

All of the work on display here is a part of an ongoing environmentally focused sculpture project entitled Paths of Consumption which recreates found patterns eaten out of by various insect larvae at exaggerated scale and with a full spectrum of layered hues. This series is a meditation on our consumption of the natural environment. The inverted insect paths act as a kind of metaphorical map to guide us to reflect on our own record of consumption as we develop and grow, both as individuals and as a society.

Also on view at the gallery are digital works from Nick Davis’s Black is Beautiful series. Sadly, Davis passed away in December of 2022.

 

Nov 222023
 

Denis Gaston, “The Pollinator”, acrylic on canvas

Paintings by Denis Gaston and Sculptures by Eric Doctors

ARTicles/ Leslie Curran Gallery’s space in St. Pete is currently showing Robbie Acts Up, an exhibition of bright and colorful work by Denis Gaston and Eric Doctors.

Along with their rotating exhibitions, the gallery shows a wide variety of local artists and offers a wide range of services including custom framing.

Nov 152023
 

The images above are from SUPERFLEX: This Is The Tip Of The Iceberg, GENERATOR: USF Contemporary Art Museum’s inaugural exhibition. The two part exhibition includes a sculptural installation and the mesmerizing interactive animation Vertical Migration, in which viewers encounter a siphonophore that reacts to their movements.

From the gallery about the exhibition-

This Is The Tip Of The Iceberg emerges from SUPERFLEX’s in-depth research into the deep sea, biodiversity, and the climate. The exhibition immerses viewers in two parallel and interconnected realms, separated by a curtain which acts as an imaginary filter between land and sea. Passing through the curtain brings visitors from a terrestrial space unsettled by rising water to the ocean’s dark depths, to meet one of the most important cleaners of the ocean, the siphonophore. Relatives of the jellyfish, siphonophores bring between two and six billion tons of carbon a year from the surface down to the seabed, where it is stored. This Is The Tip Of The Iceberg offers an opportunity to encounter this unfamiliar species, prompting reflection on the impacts and consequences of climate change, especially relevant to Florida and its coastal communities, and encouraging humans to imagine a future defined by interspecies living and ecological coexistence.

For a more detailed discussion of the work, the gallery has created an exhibition catalogue that can be viewed online or downloaded as a pdf.

Vertical Migration was originally created in 2021 by SUPERFLEX for ART 2030  and was projected on the United Nations Secretariat Building in NYC during the 76th United Nations General Assembly.

SUPERFLEX’s statement on the project-

The sea is not an abyss. It teems with an almost unimaginable array of life. Every night, the largest biological migration on Earth takes place, as trillions of creatures travel closer to the surface to feed. Some of these animals, like shrimp, are well-known. Others, like siphonophores—relatives of jellyfish—are unfamiliar: varying wildly in size, from the slightness of a fingernail to the length of a whale, they look like nothing that we find on land.

How does it feel to be one of these creatures? To explore this question, SUPERFLEX designed a computer-generated siphonophore and created an animated film, Vertical Migration, depicting its ascent. At first, the film mechanically circles the creature, getting closer and closer while giving the audience a view of it from all angles. But eventually the perspective shifts, the camera’s movements become more fluid, and the viewer sees the world from the perspective of the siphonophore.

Unsettling our perceptions of scale and otherness, Vertical Migration is an intimate encounter with a life form that bears no resemblance to human beings, though we share a planet, an ecosystem, and a future. Because of sea-level rise, humans will also be migrating vertically in the coming centuries, to higher elevations and raised buildings. The siphonophore’s story is our story. Though we can never experience its journey through the pitch-black ocean depths, we can shift our perspective to recognize that we’re connected, that our actions affect each other, and that we share a common fate.

For a look at the work in motion, below is the trailer from ART 2030.

About SUPERFLEX from their website-

SUPERFLEX was founded in 1993 by Jakob Fenger, Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, and Rasmus Rosengren Nielsen. Conceived as an expanded collective, SUPERFLEX has consistently worked with a wide variety of collaborators, from gardeners to engineers to audience members. Engaging with alternative models for the creation of social and economic organisation, works have taken the form of energy systems, beverages, sculptures, copies, hypnosis sessions, infrastructure, paintings, plant nurseries, contracts, and public spaces.

Working in and outside the physical location of the exhibition space, SUPERFLEX has been engaged in major public space projects since their award-winning Superkilen opened in 2011. These projects often involve participation, involving the input of local communities, specialists, and children. Taking the idea of collaboration even further, recent works have involved soliciting the participation of other species. SUPERFLEX has been developing a new kind of urbanism that includes the perspectives of plants and animals, aiming to move society towards interspecies living. For SUPERFLEX, the best idea might come from a fish.

This exhibition closes 11/22/23.

Oct 312023
 

This painting was spotted at The Factory in St. Pete. It was one of the works in the group exhibition Medium.

It combines several Halloween staples- pumpkins, bats, skeletons, candy corn and bloody knives.

Oct 242023
 

Ermin Tabakovic has created an intriguing world with his geometric paintings for Transcending Space, on view at Morean Arts Center in St. Pete.

From the gallery’s website-

Ermin Tabakovic was born in 1980 in former Yugoslavia (now Bosnia). In 1993 he and his family moved to Berlin, Germany where they lived between 1993-1998. As a teenager in Berlin, Ermin was involved in the city’s vibrant graffiti art scene and completed numerous murals. In 1998 he and his family emigrated to the United States, settling in the Tampa Bay area. Upon arrival in the US, Ermin took on painting and studied at St. Petersburg College where he focused on art and architecture. He went on to study art at the University of Central Florida in Orlando where he completed his BFA in Art Studio with Minors in Graphic Design and Art History.

Ermin actively exhibited his work between 2000-2008, taking part in many shows throughout Florida. He stopped painting in 2008 due to health issues and picked it up again in 2020 with a new vigor and a new vision. His new works are mature, colorful and bold representations of his core vision and aesthetic steeped in geometric form and a structural sensibility. Currently Ermin resides in Tampa with his wife Lisa and their beloved cat Maximus.

“Modern geometric painting has had a very big influence on my work, especially the Constructivist artists such as Malevich and El Lissitzky and the various other modern Art movements of the 20th century such as Cubism, Neoplasticism, Minimalism, and Surrealism. In my current work I tend to fuse all these different influences and combine them with my own personal aesthetic to create a new visual language that transcends the past and points to something new and different. We live in a digital age, so there is that digital touch to my compositions as well by using the hard-edge approach.

“I want the works to be visually striking, thus my use of vibrant colors, contrast, pure and robust geometric forms, clean lines, etc. I also like to add a surreal touch to my works to give them a sense of mystery and visual drama. Furthermore, I seek to create visual paradoxes by intertwining 2D and 3D space to add tension and ambiguity. My aim is to challenge the viewer’s perception of space and test the boundaries of what is possible by juxtaposing the seemingly impossible.”

This exhibition closes 10/26/23.