DUNEDIN — John Dryden, in his poem “Annus Mirabilis,” wrote the line “mighty things from small beginnings grow.” In nature, this can be represented by an acorn growing into an oak or a caterpillar developing into butterfly. Applied to art, it is that creative spark that gradually takes shape when met with skill, patience, vision, and resolve.
The end result of artistic inspiration can itself be diminutive in scale while simultaneously being grand in composition and craftsmanship. Such is the nature of works selected for inclusion in the 47th International Miniature Art Exhibition presented by the Miniature Art Society of Florida. The exhibit will open Sunday, Jan. 16, at the Dunedin Fine Art Center, 1143 Michigan Blvd., Dunedin.
DFAC hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65 and older and veterans, and $5 for students with valid ID. Admission is free for DFAC and MASF members and for students 12 and younger. For information, visit www.dfac.org, call 727-298-DFAC, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The show will run through Feb. 6.
Though the works are tiny, the crowds are huge, according to George Ann Bissett, president of DFAC.
“There’s obviously something magical about these small works,” she said.
“It always seems like an invasion — albeit a small and very beautiful one — when the Miniature Art Society of Florida’s annual competition opens for exhibit at the Dunedin Fine Art Center,” said Ken Hannon, vice president of DFAC. “Come be amazed by the detail of work measuring only inches in size.”
This year’s exhibition will feature more than 700 works of art and will include the society’s popular permanent collection of more than 100 miniatures. The artwork is well lighted and magnifying glasses are attached to all the screens, so that guests may view the exquisite, detailed treasures. It is a spectacular display of miniatures in various media, with paintings as well as fired porcelain, pastel, colored pencil, and sculpture. With only a few exceptions, all of the art on display is available for purchase.
According to a press release announcing the show, entries were received from 30 states and nine different countries, ensuring an outstanding diversity of subject matter and frames. As in the past, works are hand-selected from submissions. The jury is composed of award-winning miniaturists, who have carefully selected only the finest works for display. This year’s exhibition includes the work of 137 artists. According to MASF, 51 awards are given and a slide show of these award winners’ works will be presented at an awards brunch on Sunday, Jan. 16.
In addition to the works on display, starting Monday, Jan. 17 through the end of the show, artists from England, Canada and many U.S. states including Florida will be on hand to demonstrate and discuss their techniques.
Following are some of this year’s top award winners:
• Best of Show — William Mundy, Oxfordshire, UK: “The Illuminated Manuscript”
• MAA Award of Excellence — Vicki Vitale, New Bern, North Carolina: “Nursery”
• Excellence in All Entries — Celyne Brassard, Quebec: “Life Buoy”
• Best Work by a First-time Entrant — Christina Hopkinson, Market Drayton, UK: “Remember Me”
• Best Cat Award — Akiko Watanabe, Pacifica, California: “Sunset Watcher”
Awards being presented to Florida artists are:
• Transparent Watercolor, Third — Linda Armstrong
• Animals, First — Denise Horne-Kaplan
• Acrylic, First — John Brennan
• Abstract, First — Jan K Vermilya
• Landscape, Honorable Mention — Leland Williams
• Drawing/pastel, First — Helen Mathyssen-Dobbins
• Drawing/Pastel, Second — Melissa Miller Nece
• Floral, First — Judith Edgington Bayes
• Oil, Third — Angela Santos
• Oil, Honorable Mention — Elaine Hahn
R. Lynn Whitelaw, a graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in history and criticism of art, serves as a judge for this year’s exhibition. Whitelaw has served on numerous state-wide and local boards and has been a judge for over 18 outdoor art shows and juried exhibitions around the state of Florida. He was the founding director and chief curator of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, serving in that capacity for 17 years until his retirement in 2015.
Whitelaw was curator of education at the Tampa Museum of Art for eight years, where he was honored by the Florida Association of Museums with an Innovator Award for a nationally recognized partnership program developed with Hillsborough County Public Schools. Whitelaw was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Association of Museums.
Founded in 1974, the Miniature Art Society of Florida encourages artists to become involved in the world of miniaturism.
MASF seeks to broaden the awareness of the public and collectors to the delicate beauty and refinement of this venerable art form. MASF is a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations made to the society are tax deductible.
According to the society’s website, America’s “golden age” of the portrait miniature ran from about 1740 through 1850 and came to an abrupt halt with the advent of photography in the mid-1800s. Then, in the early 20th century, there was a resurgence of interest in the art form. This revival is carrying on the tradition to assure that original art in small scale, with great emphasis on detail, maintains a respected stature in the fine arts.
The society’s scholarship efforts assist talented young artists of the future.
The Miniature Art Society of Florida has recognized the importance of supporting young students, with artistic talent since 1976. The first fund provided financial assistance for art instruction to elementary and high school students. The society later decided, in 1985, that there was a need to establish annual scholarships to high school seniors pursuing studies in fine art. To date, MASF has awarded more than $134,500 in fine art scholarships to more than 122 qualified college-bound high school graduates. Some of these students have entered the society’s miniature shows.
For more information, visit www.miniature-art.com.