Above: Leslie Neumann poses with her art work. Photo by George Blanchette.
By Julie Garisto, AliveTampaBay Correspondent
This weekend two non-profit arts institutions — both esteemed for bridging the gap between community enrichment and groundbreaking creativity — will host events that are summertime traditions in the local art scene.
The Dunedin Fine Art Center (DFAC) ushers in its annual slate of summer exhibitions with an opening reception this Friday evening, July 8, from 6-9 p.m. Farther south, the Morean Arts Center hosts its sprawling Members Show on Saturday, July 9, from 5-9 p.m.
Expect artists to go to heroic proportions and put their best face forward in #EPIC and Heads Up, featuring works by DFAC Director of Youth Education Todd Still and Dunedin-based mixed-media artist/high school teacher Jay Titus.
Other celebrated exhibitions include Drawn to Greatness, artist and visual arts coordinator Shane Hoffman’s curation of Pyramid Inc. of Tampa artists. The works, created by adults with various challenges, defy limitations or categorization. Also, Dignity: Tribes in Transition presents photographer Dana Gluckstein’s black-and-white triptych of African indigenous peoples.
A DFAC artists talk kicks things off from 6-7 p.m. with Hoffman and Still. A reception follows from 7–9 p.m. with live music from Jazz Ole’.
Still, whose work spearheads #EPIC, says his geek-tastic collection started as a smaller idea — to feature fantasy/fictional helmets displayed next to their historically accurate, inspired counterparts.
He says he uses the helmets as still lifes in his teen drawing classes.
“When I proposed the idea to our curator Catherine Bergmann, she was excited but wanted me to relate the items to books and paper,” Still shares. “This was easy enough to do since most helmets were from sci-fi novels, graphic novels and fiction.”
The challenge then involved accommodating the gallery space.
“In addition to the 3D props and their historical counterparts, I added drawings that I had done as examples in my teen drawing classes,” Still explains. “So, there are the connections between fictional and non-fictional items and then drawings of the items as subjects done alongside my students.”
The final result: fiction-meets-history-meets the artistic process in groupings that include the Darth Vader Helmet with a World War II German helmet and the Takeda Shingen Kabuto head gear. The Boba Fett helmet appears with 500 BC Greek Corinthian Helmet and the Gondorian helmet. There are charcoal drawings of these items as well, Still says.
Still’s newest work is a charcoal drawing of a Samurai Stormtrooper “cross-over.”
“I like to use alternative materials and the cardboard lends itself to exploration through its layered surfaces,” he says. “Another plus is that it is a recycled material.
Heads Up, a juried exhibition celebrating the art of the portrait, features faces, heads and silhouettes interpreted from all genres, from classic portraiture to abstraction. Subjects are both real and imagined.
Jay Titus, known for his paintings on car hoods, has two pieces in the show. Each features a friend as subject and multiple imagery.
The subjects are holding things that are a representation of their artwork, he explains. “Maria” depicts a ceramist who teaches at Countryside High School. Appropriately enough, she is holding a piece of her pottery. The other work, “Greg,” depicts Refinery/Fodder & Shine Executive Chef/owner Greg Baker holding knives and cleavers.
How we show face has been on Titus’s mind for sometime. “I teach a project to my students based on using a ‘selfie,’” he says.” I think the presentation of people’s faces is more a part of society than it ever has been. I know that every work in the show will have its own story — not only about the art itself but also about the people being represented.”
Meanwhile in St. Pete, 250 Morean Arts Center members who will be showing their works during the city’s monthly gallery hop, the Second Saturday Art Walk.
The Morean presents its annual member’s exhibition/competition in conjunction with a series of events celebrating member-artists, including workshops, critiques and works for sale.
Morean’s Members Show embodies its mission — to connect people with art and provide opportunities for artists and citizens to meet and exchange ideas.
During the event, the 2015 Best of Show award winner, Alan Johnson, will be showcased in a solo exhibition.
Says Amanda Cooper, curator of exhibitions, in a recent press release: “This year, we have nearly 250 entries – which is 50 more entries than last year and the most overall entries we’ve had in seven years.”
Morean member and regional favorite Leslie Neumann will feature a work from her Wetlands series. Neumann painted her 44-by-36-inch “Wellspring,” with oil and encaustic on panel. The work has an ephemeral beauty like much of her other works. In a way, it conveys that somewhat blissful but confused state between sleep and wakefulness, when your eyes are just halfway open.
“I pull you into the picture with a scene, but the perspective is somewhat off, and the scale is a bit off, so the whole thing is alluring and yet disconcerting,” Neumann shares. “When you get close to the actual painting, that sense of a scene disappears and all you see is a riot of colors and textures.”
Even if a little skewed, natural beauty and serenity inform Neumann’s life and works. She lives in the idyllic town gulfside of Aripeka, where greats like James Rosenquist also took up residence.
At Morean this Friday, new masters will be in the making. Nearly one quarter of the artists in the Members Show are new to the annual exhibition, so expect both fresh talent and content.
Joanna Rebotham, the new curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Tampa Museum of Art, will serve as this year’s judge.
Kudos to both the DFAC and Morean Arts Center, which have come a long way and still work hard to stay current. DFAC recently turned 40, and the Morean Arts Center, the nation’s first major community arts institution south of Atlanta, will celebrate its centennial next year. Parking is free at both facilities, but arrive early, as they both might be at full capacity.
Morean Arts Center’s 98th Annual Members’ Show
Opening is 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 9, at the Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., downtown St. Petersburg. Show runs through Aug. 13. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; from noon-5 p.m. on Sunday. moreanartscenter.org.
Dunedin Fine Art Center Summer Exhibitions
Opening reception Friday, July 8, 6-9 p.m., at 1143 Michigan Blvd., Dunedin. Admission is $5 for nonmembers and free after the opening reception, during its exhibition run. DFAC members get in free. Regular hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Shows up through Aug. 21. dfac.org.