Otok Ben-Hvar in front of his Mt. Washington flag.
TARPON SPRINGS – Since their invention around 200 B.C., firecrackers have been used for everything from warding off evil spirits to celebrating special occasions. But they’ve never been used like this before. Visit the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art this summer for the special exhibition Otok Ben-Hvar: Patriotic Firecracker Artist, an homage to Americana that begins on Flag Day, June 14, and continues through Aug. 24.
Ben-Hvar is a patriotic performance artist who creates art through the use of firecrackers. For some of his paintings, he lets the fireworks arrange the paint on the canvas. For other works, he defuses firecrackers to create American flags that define his patriotic causes. This exhibition of six Ben-Hvar works includes a DNA self-portrait, a firecracker-inspired American flag, a three-dimensional national tree flag and three firecracker performance paintings.
Also on display from June 1 through Aug. 31 is Mystères de l’aquarelle: Works on Paper by Jack Barrett. Academically trained as an artist, Jack Barrett (1929-2008) worked for 20 years as a well-known illustrator for the St. Petersburg Times. After retirement, he devoted 19 years to his own art style, working in a variety of media – oils, acrylics, watercolor, collage, drawing and mixed media.
Barrett’s works came from a variety of sources, but were mostly fantasies from his vivid imagination with playful images executed through dynamic gestures and exuberant color. This exhibition of nine watercolors and collages demonstrates the masterful quality and vision of Jack Barrett’s art.
To learn more about these fascinating artists, guests are invited to attend a Gallery Talk by Jack Barrett’s widow, Louise Barrett, and Otok Ben-Hvar on Friday, June 20 at 10 a.m. Regular admission applies.
Opened in 2002, the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art is a modern and contemporary art museum featuring more than 6,000 pieces of 20th and 21st century art. The museum is located just west of U.S. 19 at 600 Klosterman Road, on the Tarpon Springs Campus of St. Petersburg College.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday; and 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday.
Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and free to children, students and military families. On Sundays, admission is free with a suggested donation of $5, and docent tours are offered at 2 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Isabelle’s Museum Store is open during regular business hours.