Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Profusion of Art

While we spent plenty of time at the beach in Clearwater, art museums were probably our largest activity. Over the course of seven days, we managed to hit five art museums. Did I mention it was rainy and cooler most of the trip? But the real reason is that my family loves art museums. Well, museums of any kind. Growing up we would hit most of the major museums in a city. Tampa and St. Pete were no different.

One of the main reasons I got invited on this trip is because my mother noticed that St. Petersburg is the home of The Dali Museum, a beautiful modern museum featuring almost 100 of the master surrealist's works. I've been a Dali fan since I was a child. At one point I saw his Cannibalism in Autumn and was instantly hooked. Over my life I've had nearly a dozen books of his work. So we spent our first full day at The Dali. Sadly I couldn't take any pictures of the actual art. But I did get the picture from outside (above) and the joy of standing in front of his work. It was amazing to see the individual brush strokes for some of pieces. I could recite titles (and Dali has some wild ones) for most of the paintings. There were only a few images that I hadn't seen. There is something breathtaking about standing in the presence of such masterpieces as The Hallucinogenic Toreador or Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko). These are huge wall sized works and each brush stroke is so incredibly precise. Even his small works are filled with little details that made me take my time with each painting. It was well worth the visit for this fan. And my sister said she was an avid fan by the end of the museum.

The exhibition across the hall for Andy Warhol interested us far less and we only gave the pop culture icon a cursory glance. Then we headed a couple blocks away to the Chihuly Collection. Dale Chihuly is the master of glass. Every time I've gotten to see his work I've fallen more in love with his colors and shapes. We moved from room to room, just gasping at the large installations. The museum offered a lovely setting for his work. My favorite has to be the one below. The boat was the size of a room and filled to the brim with glass. Thankfully I could take pictures in there. And I took many. I'll have them spread out throughout the post, because this was really one of only two museums that allowed pictures.

Emilie left us very early on Thursday morning and took all of the best weather with her. So we headed indoors to the Tampa Aquarium (that will be its own post) and the Tampa Museum of Art. The museum is in an incredibly modern building that was a work of art in itself. The antiquities were what drew us the most. It's hard to not be awed by pottery and sculpture from before the common era. A marble bust caught my eye quickly and I was shocked to see how good it looked considering it was 1st century c.e. The rest of the museum is currently featuring an exhibition from GraphicStudio, a print studio that operates out of University of Southern Florida. Some of the prints were fascinating. It was certainly more my style of art than my parents. I found and fell in love with the work of Christian Marclay. I loved his mixture of prints and sound effects, particularly a room long scroll of sounds. I'll be looking at more of his work. My favorite piece of the day was the statue in the second story balcony, In Mortal Repose by Diana Al-Hadid.

The next day we finally made it back to St. Petersburg for the recommended Museum of Fine Art. This lovely old museum was filled with antiquities, modern art, impressionists, and some fantastic sculpture. They had three Monet's that quickly caught my attention. I've become fascinated with the Impressionists lately and Monet in particular. I was also reading a book about his Seine series and was delighted to find one in the museum. The Asian collection was wonderful although my favorite may not have been the most exotic. There was a collection of materials a scholar would have. I spent at least 20 minutes looking from object to object, just enraptured. Leave it to me to find the book/learning related art. It was probably the most diverse, and most interesting collection we saw the entire week.

The last museum we saw was the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. And yes, that Ringling. John Ringling founded the Ringling Brothers Circus and went on to great fame and fortune in the circus business. He turned that profit into a very lovely house and rather extensive art collection. We drove down to Sarasota the last day of the trip to view the Circus Museum and the art museum. I have to admit that by the time I got here I was a little tired of art museums. So I didn't give this museum quite as much attention as it deserves. I wrote down three different artists I liked but mostly I just moved from room to room, seeing what caught my eye. My absolute favorite was the piece below from an artist I'd never heard of. I'll be checking out more of his work. It was a lot of art over a couple of days but looking back, I was glad we saw so many different types of art and find something to inspire at each one.

Roman Courtship by Sir William Reynolds-Stephens

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