Nanami. Courtesy of Sayaka Ganz. All Rights Reserved


James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art to unveil new exhibition

ST. PETERSBURG — In August, the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art will unveil “Environmental Impact II,” an expansive look at how various artists have engaged with and understand issues of the environment.

The exhibition will run from Aug. 24 through Dec. 1 in the museum, 150 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. It is curated and produced by David J. Wagner LLC.

“Environmental Impact II” will bring together contemporary paintings, photographs and sculptures that explore various topics including global warming, the Gulf oil spill, unabated logging and mining and loss of bee populations. Visitors will learn about the fragility of our world with works by Robert Bateman, Guy Harvey, Kent Ullberg, Karen Hackenberg and others.

“We are excited to display compelling artwork about our local and global environmental issues,” said Emily Kapes, curator at the James Museum. “At a time when environmental changes and challenges are becoming increasingly visible in our daily lives, the artists draw attention to these issues, responding in creative and thought-provoking ways.”

Upon entering the museum, visitors will be captivated by a hanging blue whale installation, “Nanami,” built by artist Sayaka Kajita Ganz. Nanami, which means “seven seas” in Japanese, is 16 feet long and is made of recycled plastic objects, aluminum armature, wire and cable ties.

“Blue whales are the largest mammals on Earth and in some cultures, they are known to be the guardians of the ocean, or as symbols of the ocean itself,” says Ganz. “‘Nanami’ is made with reclaimed plastic objects but designed so that the materials do not stand out until viewers get close enough to see it in detail. I hope that the use of discarded plastics will help raise awareness about pollution. If we value our resources, we will waste less. I would like people to think about how plastic items can be returned to the ‘mother sea’ without harming living creatures.”

The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The museum contains over 400 works of art selected from over 3,000 pieces acquired by Tom and Mary James over their 50 years of art collecting. The 88,000-square-foot museum includes over 30,000 square feet of gallery space; a double-height lobby with water feature; a Native American jewelry collection; 6,000 square feet of rental event space supporting both large events and breakout sessions; a commercial catering kitchen; and a museum shop and café. Planned programming includes special exhibitions in a variety of genres, artist talks and demonstrations, art classes, docent tours and children’s activities. Through exhibitions and education programs, the museum emphasizes the core values of art that moved Tom and Mary James: action, fortitude, heritage and integrity.

For information, call 727-892-4200 or visit www.thejamesmuseum.org.

Art Lofts to present ‘All Things August(us)’ exhibition

ST. PETERSBURG — An opening reception for a new exhibition will take place Saturday, Aug. 10, 5 to 9 p.m., at Art Lofts, 10 Fifth St. N., St. Petersburg.

“All Things August(us)” will explore local artists' interpretations of Greek and Roman themes. Selected works will celebrate the achievements of Augustus Caesar and ancient Greco-Roman cultures. Participating artists are eligible for one of three Veni Vidi Visa awards — gold, silver, and bronze — as well as a People's Choice award. Public participation is encouraged through a Greco-Roman costume/cosplay event. Participants must come to the opening and have a photograph taken of their themed outfit to be considered for the prize. The winning male and female costume will be awarded a Caesar Circlet (male) and Greek Goddess Crown (female), along with a cash prize.

This show is made possible by a grant from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.

“All Things August(us)” will run Aug. 3-31 at Art Lofts of St. Petersburg, 10 Fifth St. N. For information, call 727-821-5759.

Murder Mystery Company performance to benefit library foundation

SAFETY HARBOR — The Murder Mystery Company will present “Totally 80s! Totally Murder!” Friday, Sept. 27, at the Safety Harbor Public Library, 101 Second St. N., Safety Harbor.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. An Italian dinner buffet will be served at 6:30 p.m. The show will get underway at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45 a person or $85 per couple. For tickets, visit 80smurdermysterytheater.eventbrite.com. To reserve a table, email Lisa at lkothe@cityofsafetyharbor.com. All proceeds will benefit the Safety Harbor Public Library Foundation’s 20/20 Vision. For information, call 727-724-1525, ext. 4106 or visit www.SafetyHarborLibraryFoundation.org.

Crossing the Bridge II partners Creative Clay, Pyramid

ST. PETERSBURG — Crossing the Bridge II, a collaborative art exchange between Creative Clay, a St. Petersburg-based arts organization, and Pyramid Inc., located in Tampa, opens on two evenings in August.

Crossing the Bridge II connects two art programs through collaboration between 12 artists from each organization creating 24 different paintings. Each organization began 12 pieces, which were then exchanged and completed by artists from the other program. “Portrait” is the theme of the project, and artwork will portray humans, animals and other living things. All works will be of acrylic paint on canvas, priced at $150 each.

“Crossing the Bridge II features a vibrant collection of paintings celebrating diverse artistic voices transformed into shared narratives through the collaborative process,” said Jody Bikoff, director of exhibitions at Creative Clay.

Mari Saito, Pyramid visual arts instructor, said, “The artists of Pyramid enjoy the excitement of wondering what the finished product will look like and how the ‘finishing’ artists will be influenced by the style, thoughts and other visual and intangible stimulus found in their works.”

Crossing the Bridge II will be presented Aug. 2- 31, with openings on both sides of the bay:

  • Friday, Aug. 2, 6 to 9 p.m., at Pyramid Inc., 1508 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa.
  • Saturday, Aug. 10, 5 to 9 p.m., at Creative Clay, 1846 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg.

Artists from both organizations benefit by having the ability to collaborate on gallery-quality pieces of work, and to forge alliances and friendships with other artists.

“The artists of Creative Clay love partnering with other organizations in the Tampa Bay area on projects and events,” said Bikoff. “Collaborative art-making is a wonderful way to work together creatively. They enthusiastically created their pieces and were excited to meet the Pyramid artists for the exchange of the artwork.”

Saito agreed, citing other benefits enjoyed when artists connect as peers and engage in creation as a shared experience.

Creative Clay’s mission is to help people with disabilities achieve full and inclusive lives through access to the arts by providing expressive, educational and vocational experiences. Visit www.creativeclay.org.

Pyramid Inc. is a statewide arts-focused day program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, offering a range of visual and performing arts, catering to students’ level of ability and interest.

MFA, St. Pete displays rare Greek bronze sculpture

ST. PETERSBURG — Dionysus has arrived in St. Petersburg.

The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, recently installed an extremely rare and exquisite 2,200-year-old Greek bronze head of the god of wine and theater in its gallery dedicated to ancient art.

The hollow-cast, bronze sculpture boasts copper lips, a pensive gaze and serpentine tresses adorned with an ivy wreath. It is a long-term loan to the museum from a private collector. There are fewer than 30 surviving large-scale, Greek original bronze statues in the world, according to Michael Bennett, Ph.D., senior curator of early western art. Of that number, only six are in the United States and the MFA now has one of them on view.

As an expert in the field for more than 25 years, Bennett described the Head of Dionysus as one of the most important and finest examples of ancient Greek sculpture in existence today. Displaying this work of art continues the MFA’s ongoing initiative to enhance the museum’s presentation of ancient art with outstanding long-term loans from private and institutional lenders, important acquisitions to the collection, and world-class exhibitions and programming focused on the art and culture of antiquity.

“We are the only encyclopedic art museum in the state of Florida, and some of our earliest and most important acquisitions were in the area of ancient art,” said Bennett. “The MFA has a significant commitment to presenting the very best in ancient art, but also undertaking real scholarship in the area. This is the first of many great things to come.”

In addition to displaying the Head of Dionysus, the MFA has other upcoming offerings designed to bring ancient art to the forefront at the museum:

• Back to the Future with Dr. Michael Bennett, a year-long series of lectures, gallery spotlights, and intimate garden conversations centered on the MFA’s distinguished collection of antiquities. The first Gallery Spotlight was “What’s Up, Persephone?” on July 17, which attracted a standing-room-only crowd of museumgoers. The next in the series is Meeting Dionysus, Wednesday, Aug. 28.

• Five mosaics from ancient Antioch that are part of the MFA’s founding collection will be on display together for the first time in late summer 2019. In 2018, the MFA conserved the mosaics in a project that captured the imagination of the city and drew visitors to the museum’s outdoor conservation lab.

• The exhibition “Ancient Theater and the Cinema” will be presented in the upstairs gallery from November 9, 2019, to April 5, 2020, with the Head of Dionysus serving as the centerpiece of the show. The exhibition will present images from ancient theater in Greek vase painting in dialogue with film stills from classic cinema.

According to Kristen A. Shepherd, executive director of the museum, the presentation of ancient art ties back to the museum’s educational mission by bringing attention to an integral part of our history. Being able to present world masterpieces like the Head of Dionysus to the public is just a prelude to making the MFA a destination to view the best in ancient art in the Southeastern United States.

“This is one of the most important works of art from the Hellenistic period, and we’re extremely proud and grateful this lender has entrusted the MFA with the presentation of such a remarkable object of craftsmanship, beauty, and history,” Shepherd said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for our community and beyond, and just the beginning of what’s to come in ancient art for the MFA.”

The museum is at 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Regular admission is $20 for adults; $15 for those 65 and older, Florida educators, college students, and active duty military; and $10 for students 7 and older. Children 6 and younger and museum members are admitted free.

For more information, call 727-896-2667 or visit mfastpete.org.

Chihuly Collection to present glass sculpture exhibition

ST. PETERSBURG — The Chihuly Collection presented by the Morean Arts Center will host Zac Weinberg’s traveling exhibition “Swing States: Recent Perspectives in Glass Sculpture from the Middle West,” running Aug. 10 through Oct. 31 at 720 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

Weinberg, an early career sculptor and glass artist, takes a critical look at contemporary glass practices in Ohio and Pittsburgh, traditional centers of glass making since the mid-nineteenth century, and curates an exhibition of examples. Featured artists include Jennifer Halvorson, Kim Harty, Nate Ricciuto, Heather Clancy, Joanna Manousis, Alli Hoag, Sean Merchant, and Mike Stevens.

“In 1962 the Midwest became the nexus of a movement that radically changed how artists worked with glass. Since this initial spark, the Midwest has continued to be a site of experimentation for glassmaking. This exhibition highlights emerging artists from a generation who have internalized the developments and technologies that have advanced this material over the past 56 years,” said Weinberg in a press release.

Entry to “Swing States” is included with general admission to the Chihuly Collection. Admission to the Chihuly Collection also includes access to live glassblowing demonstrations by local artists at the Morean Glass Studio and non-ticketed exhibitions at the Morean Arts Center and Morean Center for Clay.

Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. For information, visit www.moreanartscenter.org.