Ruskin, FL Monday March 16
St. Petersburg was our destination today and we spent the day looking at art. Stop number one was the Dali Museum in a building opened in 2011 built specifically for this collection of Salvador Dali’s (1904-1989) works, along the waterfront of Tampa Bay. The building was constructed to be the vault for all of the more than 2,000 works in the collection, even in a hurricane.
The collection was started by an Ohio businessman, Reynolds Morse, in 1943. He and his wife, Eleanor, collected Dali’s works for several decades, becoming personal friends with Dali and his wife Gala. The collection grew until, according to the docent’s account, the traffic it generated was a problem and city officials in Beachwood Ohio told the Morses to limit the traffic. Big mistake. Through a combination of circumstances, St. Petersburg gained the entire collection. Today it is housed in a building with a soaring double helix interior staircase, like DNA, and a glass atrium comprised of 1,062 glass triangles, no two of which are alike. The museum is a major draw, bringing tourists into St. Petersburg.
Dail was a Spaniard who spent part of his life in the U.S. He is known for “his technical skill as a painter and shocking quality of his imagination”. His early work was as a surrealist, but his later work delved into religion, science, mathematics and practically anything that stirred his imagination. The collection here includes works in film, writing, clothing, jewelry, etc. Exhibits detail his completed works plus initial drawings and sketches indicating the mathematical connection behind some of the drawings.
Besides the permanent exhibit, there was a special exhibit that demonstrated similarities between how Dali and da Vinci “shared an ambition to use the tools of art to explore the whole of the human experience, from math and anatomy to motion devices, religion, and visual perception.”
I have not always been a major fan of Dali, but the time today clearly demonstrated how striking and detailed his paintings were. The museum displays both his huge masterworks and his small, intimate paintings. It was time well spent.
After Dali and lunch, we went to the Chihuly Collection. Dale Chihuly is an artist in glass that seems to emerge everywhere we travel. The collection here blossomed after St. Petersburg and Orlando organized Chihuly exhibits and the St. Petersburg one drew a phenomenal response. Local people said, Hey, maybe we should make this permanent. After some initial difficulty raising funds due to the 2007-2009 recession, this building was constructed just to house a special collection of Chihuly works. It is located along the waterfront, across from a park so the setting adds to the enjoyment of the visit.
We caught a docent tour and were able to hear details about most of the glass works in the exhibit. Color and imaginative use of shapes and settings distinguish the exhibit from other glass artists.
We left St. Petersburg having filled our day with enjoyable art. If our schedule was different, we might have returned here later in the month to watch the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, where Indy style cars race along a 1.9 mile course in downtown St. Pete’s. We saw the spectator stands being erected and concrete barriers placed along the race track for the event on March 27-29. Seems like it would be a spectacular way to end March.
Ed and Chris 3/16 8 pm
A few more Chihuly art works. Click on them for larger views if desired.