ST. PETERSBURG’S IMAGINE MUSEUM

St. Petersburg is such a fantastic city for so many reasons, but it’s especially fantastic if you enjoy seeing fabulous glass art works.  Between the Chihuly Collection, Morean Arts Center, and Duncan McClellan Gallery, which I previously wrote about; they exhibit (and/or sell) more top-quality art glass than most American cities.  There is still, however, one more glass museum I haven’t yet shared, which is the Imagine Museum.

Wow!  The Imagine Museum is another feast for the eyes that is well worth the visit.  Founded in 2016 by glass artist Trish Duggan, “her goal was to put together a collection of artworks and promote an experience that would inspire, uplift, and educate,” according to their website.  We definitely think she has accomplished that goal!

Imagine Museum features top glass artists from around the world, including America, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Australia, and others.  There are 1,500 glass art works on display from the Studio Glass Movement, which started in the 1960’s and continues to the present.

One of the things I greatly appreciated about Imagine Museum and the other museums and galleries we visited was that they openly encourage visitors to photograph their art works!  All they asked was to tag them on social media.  Done!

We were also pleased to learn the museum offered free tours with admission.  The tour we selected was, “Introduction to American Studio Glass.”  There were only six of us on the tour, and the guide did an excellent job keeping our attention with interesting stories about the artists and their works.  It was fascinating!

Following the tour, we roamed around the remaining exhibits that weren’t covered on the tour, including the entire second floor of the museum. 

Glass is often really difficult to photograph, so the pictures I took of many of the art works ended up in the recycle bin—especially since I wasn’t shooting with my best camera, which I left at home, due to a malfunctioning zoom mechanism.  These were all shot (without flash) with my inexpensive waterproof Fuji XP, which Bruce uses for shooting underwater video of my swimming for stroke technique feedback.

The pictures don’t do the art work justice, so you will just have to visit St. Petersburg and see it all for yourself!

Dale Chihuly
Toots Zynsky, a former student of Dale Chihuly
Toots Zynsky
“Nirvana,” 1000 Buddahs, by Imagine Museum founder, Trish Dugan. She was inspired by this quote by Buddah: “Though you can conquer a 1,000 men in battle 1,000 times, the one who conquers himself is the noblest victor of all.”
Martin Blank
It’s difficult to imagine from this picture, but I was actually looking through a very long tunnel of glass! This sculpture was approximately 12+ feet long! This photo was shot from one end.
This is just a small portion of a large glass sculpture by Anthony James.
This glass cube is balancing on its stand. The tour guide took one corner, gave it a spin! It was mesmerizing to watch, and this photo can’t possibly capture what we really saw.
This one was a trip! It looked different from every angle!
This life-size chair was on display in the front window of the museum. Don’t sit on it!

ST. PETERSBURG’S DUNCAN MCCLELLAN GALLERY: A FEAST FOR THE EYES

Trip Advisor has been a very useful travel-planning tool over the years, and this time was no different.  Checking out the site’s “Things to Do” category for St. Petersburg landed me here to read the reviews on the top-ranked Duncan McClellan Gallery.  Just knowing it was an art glass gallery was convincing enough; we knew we had to see it!  The fabulous reviews, however, sealed it!  Better yet was following the link to the gallery’s website to see the gorgeous photos of their exhibited glass sculptures.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the personable and friendly Danyell Bauer, the gallery’s manager.  She has worked at the gallery for ten years, and she is also a glass and multi-media artist.  We really enjoyed talking with her!

As we feasted our eyes on all of the beautiful works of art, we felt right at home in the relaxed environment—especially when we saw the food and water bowls on the floor for what turned out to be three cats that had free run of the gallery. (I guess they don’t make a habit of knocking over the art work!)

The 3,000-square-foot gallery opened up to a casual courtyard and deck in one direction, where two of the cats were taking a siesta; and, on the other side of the gallery, it opened up to a beautiful sculpture garden full of mango trees, plants, orchids, sculptures, art glass, a boardwalk path, and casual sitting areas where you could relax and enjoy the environment.  We were amazed that gorgeous blown glass pieces were on display out in the elements.  They were created by Duncan himself, and they were spectacular!

Duncan McClellan

We got talking with Duncan McClellan, and learned that he also loves to garden and grow orchids.  He created that 5,000-square-foot sculpture garden from what was once an empty dirt space behind the former fish and tomato packing plant.  Now, he is learning how to grow several varieties of mushrooms and showed us a bucket that had mushrooms growing on the side.

Duncan was as personable and friendly as Danyell, and he really made us feel at home.  Behind the gallery and sculpture garden is a huge glass blowing studio, so he led us back and showed us around.  Glass blowing demonstrations are open to the public; however, we were there on a Sunday afternoon, so there wasn’t much action going on. 

Since Bruce works in fused glass, we were interested in seeing his kilns, and we were amazed at the quantity and variety he had available there for himself, staff, the artists, and classes they teach.  One of them was the largest we had ever seen!  This huge piece was annealed in this approximately 5’ x 5’ kiln.

We look forward to returning to the gallery next time we visit St. Petersburg.  Since the rotating exhibitions feature national and internationally recognized glass artists, I am sure there will be many more amazing works of art; a feast for the eyes!

VACCINATION CELEBRATION! ST. PETERSBURG FLORIDA

April 27, 2021.  I was so looking forward to that glorious day:  Full vaccination!  The countdown started after my second jab, on April 13.  Bruce was already fully vaccinated, and we decided to take a celebration road trip the moment I qualified.

On April 27th, we hit the road to St. Petersburg, a Florida city we hadn’t yet visited.  The draw?  The Chihuly Collection at the Morean Art Center.

Glass blowing demonstration at the Morean Arts Center.

Dale Chihuly, an American glass sculptor, is one of the world’s most famous artists of blown glass.  We had enjoyed his temporary exhibits at the Mingei Museum, in San Diego, as well as the Atlanta and Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens.  In addition, we were in awe of his permanent installations at the San Antonio library, San Antonio Museum of Art, Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel, and Maker’s Mark Distillery, in Kentucky.

We decided to make our celebration a one-week vacation, so we could also enjoy the other art glass galleries, museums, and so much more that St. Petersburg has to offer.

Notice how Flipper is masked to keep us all safe!

Whenever I travel, I also look for a pool facility, so I can start off at least some of my days with a good swim training session.  I found it in St. Pete, at the North Shore Aquatics Complex, located right on the downtown waterfront at Vinoy Park.  I was in swimming heaven! The 50-meter pool was run short course the days I swam, so I always had my own lane in the perfect 80-degree water.  (The facility also has a 25-meter pool and kids water park. 

While I swam, Bruce walked along the waterfront park watching the dolphins and birds as he enjoyed views of the St. Petersburg skyline and marina.  One of his walks took him along Vinoy Park, past the marina, and to the end of St. Pete Pier and back, for a 75-minute roundtrip.  Nice!

Bruce was really impressed with the uniqueness of this pier—unlike anything he had ever seen; so, I had to see it for myself.

The new version of this pier on Tampa Bay opened in July, 2020 at a cost of $92 million dollars.  It includes five restaurants, a playground, an environmental education center, artwork, and sculptures, including this life-size pelican. 

Next time we visit St. Pete, we are going to make sure to return to the pier at night to see the “Bending Arc,” a net sculpture that lights up in bright colors.

We really enjoyed the downtown area of St. Petersburg.  It’s an easy city to navigate by car or on foot; however, if neither of those options sound appealing to you (or, you just want to relax and leave the work to somebody else), you can ride the Looper.  The ride is free, and there are twenty stops along the route where you can get off to enjoy one of the many restaurants with outdoor dining, visit a gallery, or shop ‘til you drop.  It even stops at the local hospitals, but I’m hopeful you will never need to do that!

St. Pete has an artsy vibe, and there is plenty of arts and culture to take in while you’re there.  My next two posts will give you a taste of it with visits to the Duncan McClellan Gallery and Imagine Museum.

Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite crafts from Florida Craft Art: