Friday, March 25, 2011

Florida Souvenirs, Sand, Surf and Sin in the Sunshine State @ Mindy Solomon Gallery

FS67 #3, Tampa Photo Laureate Project, by Jeremy Chandler
The Mindy Solomon Gallery (MSG) has firmly established itself as one of the premier art venues in the area. Mindy doesn't just serve up interesting, beautiful, moving, intellectually stimulating, contemporary, first-rate work. Visiting the gallery means having your assumptions undergo the equivalent of a deep-tissue massage. Passive viewers will find themselves challenged and engaged in the best of ways. The provocative energy of art is something Mindy understands and uses frequently to push its boundaries -- and those of the viewers.

This Florida-themed show is no exception. A souvenir is something we take home from a trip. An innocous, often kitsch object that serves as a mnemonic device, a conceptual snapshot and portal that can effectively transport us back to the time and place where we got it, and who we were then...and back.

There are twenty-three artists in this show: Jason Briggs, John Byrd, Nuala Creed, Josh DeWeese, Ray Gonzalez, David Furman, David Hicks, Sean Erwin, Bart Johnson, Bert Katleman, Bethany Krull, Max Lehman, Beth Lo, Kate Mac Dowell, Matt Nolen, Joseph Pintz, Cris Riccardo, Patricia Sannit, Matt Shafer, Lee Shaw, Sunko Yuh, and Jeremy Chandler. It's impossible to review them all in this space, so I will choose some highlights. 

FS68 #4, Tampa Photo Laureate Project, by Jeremy Chandler

 Jeremy Chandler photographs with a large format camera (4x5) and film, working in the documentary style. In the picture at left, "FS68 #4", we see a classic Floridian woman golfer dressed for the occasion, a voluptuous beauty fading, leaning on her club, standing on the synthetic, manicured, fertilized green, and just across the dreamy, mirror-still waters of the pond behind her lies the wild, raucous Florida, barely reined in.

See more of his work here: [Link]

"Leda", Pavel Amromin

Did I mention provocative art? Under the Sin part of this show is Pavel Amromin's X-rated Leda, an unromanticized  and Floridized version of the original story [Link]. The Swan here is a salacious looking flamingo, and Leda is not only having intercourse, but deep kissing it. In this version, Leda has the upper hand in the encounter. Note how her hair is matted with sweat, and the whole sculpture is the color of a sex blush.

See more of his work here: [Link]

Some art venues are flush with ceramics this week in anticipation of the NCECA convention, but MSG has shown first-rate ceramics on a consistent basis from their first show.

"Helios II" by Patricia Sannit

Patricia Sannit brings a varied background, including weaving, ceramics and archaeology to her art. She has integrated these experiences into her work, trying to grasp and express universal aspects of humanity that transcend time and culture. This, and other pieces of her work that have been shown previously at MSG, have a calendrical, cyclical-time feel to them, like a sundial without a gnomon.

See more of her work here: [Link]

"Adam and Eve Florida's  Garden of Eden" and "100 gators vase", by Leland Shaw


Two terracotta vases by Leland Shaw. On the left is Adam and Eve in the mythological and to many, real, Florida Garden of Eden. To the right is the 100 gators vase. These two and an alligator bowl are exquisite objects, literally and figuratively vessels of the Floridan state of mind.

"Oil Lamp", by Matt Nolen

This X-ray see-through, and into, oil lamp sculpture is by Matt Nolan. Mote how it combines genie, lamp and flame. If you look carefully on the side, you can see what is lighting that fire. A parable on narcissism? Does it grant itself wishes? Where is Florida in all this? The base looks suspiciously like coral.

"Oil Lamp", rear detail
Here is a detail from behind the scultpure's head. It's made of multiple fired stoneware.

This sculture is like early cave drawings in that we can see into it, like an X-ray, past the surface lie memory, context and content.

See more of his work here: [Link]

This porcelain cone 6 sculpture of an alligator lies like a specimen, under glass. It is many things, partly a parable about the corruptionof the environment, our fantasies about beauty and Nature, and much more. It is titled "Queen of Denial", and is by Kate MacDonnell.

"Blossom", by Jason Briggs
This porcelain sculpture, seen here from an overhead view, resting on a bed/gurney of lace and a frame of stainless steel, brings to mind a stone age Venus, though more exaggerated, almost sans head or arms. It is a sexual fetish resting on red lace. Florida indeed.

See more of Jason's work here: [Link]

"Souvenirs" is what its title says, part of our collective experience of Florida, the Florida of our dreams, desires, realities and nightmares, highlighted and transcribed by artists. Attention NCECA conventioneers: This exhibit is unique, pushing the conceptual boundaries of sculptural ceramics.

--- Luis

MSG: [Link]  Mindy Solomon Gallery, 124 2nd ave. NE. St Petersburg. Hrs. Wed-Sat 11 AM - 5 PM. 727.502.0852

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