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Ken Rollins favorites on display at Studio@620
Florida Focus Exhibition: A Celebration of Contemporary Art, March 3-17
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[Image]
Apeshit America 45” x 55” by Lance Rodgers
[Image]
Zig-Zag: Exhume #3 Blue, watercolor on paper, 30” x 22”, created in 2011 by Lisa Williamson
[Image]
Suwannee, 2/9 Bronze Edition, 2009, 29” x 16” x 14” by William Schaaf
[Image]
Anna Hands by Anna Tomczak
[Image]
A page from a one-of-a-kind artist books by Neverne Covington.
ST. PETERSBURG - Art aficionados throughout Pinellas County are well acquainted with Ken Rollins, 11-year executive director for the former Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo.

Collectively, Rollins has spent 30 years of his life as an executive director of art at museums in Florida, including The Deland Museum of Art, Deland; the Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland; interim executive director of the Tampa Museum of Art, as well as the Gulf Coast Museum of Art.

During his tenure, he made friends with many of the state’s premier artists. Retired now, Rollins celebrates his 70th birthday in March. To mark the occasion, he is curating an exhibition featuring 35 of the many artists he worked with during his career.

The show includes paintings, sculpture, photography, glass, metal, performance and installation by artists from all around Florida and Tampa Bay.

The show opens Saturday, March 3, at Studio@620, First Ave. S. in St. Petersburg. Opening reception is at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

The exhibit will remain on display through March 17. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 727-895-6620 or visit www.s­tudio­620.o­rg.

Sampling of artists

"I was fortunate during my career to work with hundreds of Florida artists,” Rollins says. “While the choices were difficult, it is an honor to celebrate my birthday with this group of very accomplished artists, who I consider good friends."

Lisa Williamson of New Smyrna Beach has known Rollins since 1979 “when I painted on the Indian River Lagoon in my marsh-house studio,” she said.

Rollins was director of Deland Museum at the time. He also invited to show her works in a solo exhibition of more than 50 works when he was executive director at the Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo.

“He has been a continuous source of creative support for my work as a painter,” Williamson said in an email.

For Rollin’s 70th birthday exhibition, he selected Williamson’s Zig-Zag: Exhume #3 Blue, watercolor on paper, 30” x 22”, created in 2011.

“This is a new series of work, partly biographical and partly philosophical with the minutiae of life on the edges of the zig and zag ... hovering over the ancient bulbous roots of the peony flower planted by my grandmother at the turn of the last century,” she said.

William Schaaf of Gainesville has “explored the mysterious symbolism of equine imagery in his prints, paintings and sculptures,” according to his website, willi­amsch­aaf.c­om.

Rollins picked Schaaf’ Suwannee, 2/9 Bronze Edition, 2009, 29” x 16” x 14” to include in his special exhibit. It was fabricated by Rick Frignoca at Bronzart Foundry in Sarasota.

Schaaf says “Suwannee is the progenitor for the popular, larger erotic Tantra Gurl Series, a fertility fetish made large, now at 7/8 Bronze Edition; which are owned by various museums including the Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, the Orlando Museum of Art, the Tampa Museum of Art, Synergis Corporation of Lake Mary, and other private collections.”

Apeshit America 45” x 55” by Lance Rodgers of St. Petersburg also is included in the show.

“This is another in a series of Ape Paintings that humorously depict the de-evolution of well… us,” Rodgers writes. “This picture of course, is about our body politic, the American electorate and our political process. It is not about the current candidates or the caricatures they’ve become.

“A painting of us throwing poop at each like monkeys at the zoo wouldn’t be visually appealing, so I painted this…It is a cramped, over-crowded, composition with clashing colors, and too much movement… just like a 24 hour cable news and internet cycle. Too much cheap symbolism, not enough nuance. Almost cartoonish… just like us!

“Everybody is shouting their point of view in less than thoughtful ways, but nobody’s making eye contact! (A visual way of saying no one is listening) Republicans, Democrats, Tea-monkeys and Occupy… The one percent, the ninety nine percent…I do love witnessing and participating in this electoral freak show… this Apeshit America.”

Rollins also selected Lake Helen photographer Anna Tomczak’s Anna Hands, created with a 20 x 24 camera to include in the March show. According to her website, www.a­nnato­mczak­.com, Tomczak’s large format dye-infusion transfer photographs are widely exhibited and included in many museums, university, private and corporate collections.

Neverne Covington of St. Petersburg said Rollins selected a page from one of her one-of-a-kind artist books.

“It is art of a series of eight,” she said. “The matrix of this 22 X 30 image is made by the Florida summer rains drenching the paper into the rusted ceiling tin tile. The images collaged onto it consist of monotypes, intaglios, drawings and leather. I have fallen in love with artist books.” More of Covington’s work can be seen at www.n­evern­ecovi­ngton­.com.

Other Tampa Bay artists included in the exhibition are, Kevin Brady, Jack Breit, Maria Emelia, Kevin Kuenzel, Robert Stackhouse, Duncan McClellan, Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse, Susan Supper all of St. Petersburg, Rocky Bridges of Tarpon Springs and Susan Gott, David McKirdy and Charles Parkhill of Tampa.

From around the state are Demi, John Henry, Arturo Rodriguez and Yolanda Sanchez of Miami; Margaret Tolbert of Gaineville; John Briggs and Monica Eastman-Estes of Plant City; Alexa Kleinbard and Jim Roche of Tallahassee; Liz Gibson and Jeff Whipple of Jacksonville, as well as Richard Currier of Mico; Unmarid Eitharong of Orlando; Leslie Neumann of Aripeka; and Joyce Ely-Walker of Palmetto.

About Rollins

According to the website rolli­nsfin­eart.­com, Rollins is a museum assessment and accreditation consultant for the American Association for Museums. He has served on the boards of the Clearwater Arts Foundation, CreativeTampaBay and the National Society of Arts and Letters Advisory Board.

In 2004, Ken was honored with the Florida Association of Museums Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004, and in 2006, he was presented with the Florida Art Museum Directors Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is now president of Rollins Fine Art, an art consulting company based in St. Petersburg.
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