Clearwater Main Library to host ‘Four Directions in Fiber’ exhibition

CLEARWATER — Four Tampa Bay Surface Design Guild artists with very divergent styles will take part in the “Four Directions in Fiber” exhibition, running Aug. 4 through Sept. 27 at Clearwater’s Main Library, 100 N. Osceola Ave., Clearwater.

The story behind what binds them began over 20 years ago. At that time fiber as a medium had just emerged from a “cottage” or quaint female pastime. Those who were serious about learning to dye, print, and construct with fiber still had to search long and hard to gather information. A group of about seven women regularly got together to share techniques and develop ideas. That group became Tampa Bay Surface Design Guild.

Surface design refers to anything done to change the color, texture and imagery of fabric or any surface. This might include dyeing, printmaking, stitching, constructing, or anything which takes an otherwise perfectly acceptable surface and changes it up to satisfy the artist.

Two of the artists included in this exhibition were part of that original group more than 20 years ago. Mei-Ling St. Leger has pursued an interest in Japanese Shibori dyeing methods and her work reflects the Asian aesthetic. Her carefully manipulated folding, stitching, and clamping create strategic areas of color and layered shading. If you ask her to share what makes her smile, she’ll tell you it is all about color. She is a master at layering colors, revealing transparencies and creating texture.

Susan Leslie Lumsden’s bold use of the traditional bullseye block are explorations of color and texture while often becoming the backdrop for a visual story. Her innovative use of the traditional block has earned her two national awards as well as many state and regional ones in fiber and all media competitions. Her most recent work also involves linocut relief blocks printed on fabric, while the large-scale projects reflect her interest in public art.

Bonnie Ward brings storytelling to her imagery in her carefully crafted art quilts. She creates imagery by collaging layers of various fabrics, adhering them and accentuating with focused stitching. Her skills, developed from the broad range of prior artistic disciplines, are reflected in her ability to create textural stories and elegant design.

Elizabeth Neilly brings her skills as a historian and textile master to create elaborate garments and wall pieces using materials she has often dyed from natural sources. Storytelling through imagery has been a long-term, well developed skill. She brings a strong background in technical production of costuming to her glorious jackets and coats while her spinning and weaving skills show well-honed talents in color blending.

Each artist has a vastly differing viewpoint, while each shows a high level of technical expertise. The guild has been a unifying influence allowing them to gather more information while building their own styles. They were chosen from a field of over a hundred members for this initial focused exhibition.

The exhibition is open to the public at no charge.

A free public reception is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 10, 2 to 4 p.m., at the library. Artists talks are planned for Sunday, Aug. 18, 3 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 8, 3 p.m. Many of the artworks are for sale.

Through the end of August, more of each artist’s work can also be seen at Dunedin Fine Arts Center as a part of the Surface Design Guild member’s show which is part of DFAC’s summer fiber exhibition.

James Museum announces departure of Bernice Chu, founding director

ST. PETERSBURG — The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art recently announced that Bernice Chu, founding director, will be departing to pursue new business opportunities effective Aug. 2.

Chu was instrumental in the design, launch and opening of the James Museum in April 2018. With expert vision and leadership, Chu built a strong foundation for the museum, laying the groundwork for its growth into a valuable community resource and world-class arts destination.

“I have an exciting opportunity to help establish a new museum, the International African American Museum, in Charleston, South Carolina,” Chu said. “As thrilled as I am to work on this historic project, I am equally sad to leave the James Museum and St. Petersburg Community.”

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 heighth lobby with water feature; a Native American jewelry collection; 6,000 square feet of rental event space supporting both large events and break-out sessions; a commercial catering kitchen; and a museum shop and café.

“Mary and I would like to thank Bernice for her leadership, service and commitment to the museum and wish her the very best in her future endeavors,” said Tom in a press release. “Mary and I will work with our core leadership team at the museum to oversee the transition until the appointment of a new director.”

Through exhibitions and education programs, the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art emphasizes the core values of art that moved Tom and Mary James: action, fortitude, heritage and integrity.