Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spring Bling

Wizard at Springfest
Spring in Florida explodes less obviously than elsewhere, but we locals have noticed that at last the crepe myrtles are leafing up, and we too rejoice (although perhaps with less manic fervor than those snowed-in up north for months). Spring in St. Petersburg also means high season for festivals and events. I managed to hit two this weekend: Springfest in Gulfport, where faeries and lawn art abounded; and, Art in Bloom at my former place of employ, the Museum of Fine Arts - St. Petersburg.  

Springfest involves a lot of wings and glitter and is great for creatures large and small, particularly those that like costumes. I attended with friends, including a toddler, who was thrilled by all the shiny stuff.  Bubbles and beads and friendly dogs went over big, even if a few of the (very kind and friendly) faeries were a wee bit overwhelming for a sometimes shy small person.  As for the grownups, we enjoyed the costumed crowd, music in the bandstand, the costume contest, and variety of stalls selling everything from plants and wings to floating clothing and geranium oil. We missed the Maypole dance, alas. But there was a wizard that was, as a friend said, straight out of central casting, a Gandalf doppelganger.

Faeries chatting
On an only vaguely related note, I was happy to see sidewalk chalk available; Saturday was the anniversary of Brendan's death, and sidewalk chalk (of all things) continues to remind me of him, since the day we met, we played with chalk on the back patio of a bar. So I got to scribble out his name and a trademark sun under the sculpture by Tom Pitzen of a winged woman  named "Nec mortem effugere quisquam nec amorem potest," which, I found out when I googled the Latin back home, means "No one is able to flee from death or love." Sometimes the universe conspires with you to find perspective. On Saturday, mostly I was happy to spend a sunny day in good company watching a child explore with delight.

On Sunday, I caught one of the last days of Art in Bloom, where floral artists find inspiration from
Art in Bloom floral response to Theo Wujcik's Canto II
pieces in the MFA collection.  The yearly event is beloved by museum regulars with good reason, as the floral art alongside sturdier artworks provides a lovely intersection of types of creation, those more wilting and ephemeral and those ebbing away at a much slower rate. I'm always impressed by the vision of the floral designers and the way shape and/or color are echoed and transformed from the original painting to the floral response. Floral designers often bring in inorganic elements to go with the flowers, and I am often struck by the incorporated sculptural elements, particularly those that evolve from a 2D painting to a 3D floral arrangement.  

Shiva as Lord of the Dance and floral response
While motivated to be there for the more substantially time-limited flowers, I did also finally get around to exploring the Contemplating Character: Drawings and Oil Sketches from Jacques-Louis David to Lucian Freud exhibit. Given my particular interest in portraiture and the endless expressions of human complexity they can express, I suspected it would be an involving exhibit for me, and indeed it was.  Not every piece spoke to me, but I was delighted by the breadth of pieces, from 18th century sketches to R. Crumb's work on place mats. As usual, I gravitated more toward more modern work, but not exclusively. Portraiture, as the exhibit makes clear, is so much about the relationship between the artist and subject (even when the piece is a self-portrait), and that emotion is what brings pieces to life. Happily, I also ran into a few former coworkers, which always makes the MFA feel like my special and personal museum; I know the folks working behind the curtain that bring the magic together. I look forward to returning for future exhibits, and other adventures out in my adopted hometown.

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