The rhythm of waves. The intricacies of flowers. The wisdom of backyard birds and the surreal creatures of the ocean deeps. All of these themes run through the 57th Street Artists’ Collective show at the Hickman Theater Lobby. The exhibit features the work of 11 Gulfport artists. And while each artist presents a unique vision in her chosen medium, it’s clear that Gulfport’s wonderfully wild environs provide an endless source of shared inspiration.
Let’s Art Together
When Margo Dalgetty moved to Gulfport eight years ago, it was to become a working artist. She’d heard of the town’s reputation as a haven for the arts and, true to form, she quickly found friends, inspiration, and – eventually – the right space for her studio.
“Gulfport did not disappoint!” she recalls.
Even so, there was room to grow. Her studio at 3113 57th St. S. felt underutilized and she wondered how it might fare as a co-working space. Two years ago, she began inviting colleagues to join her for art journaling sessions. Or they might bring in works in progress for some studio time.
“I told them, ‘I’ll make coffee, and we’ll art together.’”
A collective was born. Now a group of 20 or so artists meets weekly in the studio to share feedback, support, new skills, and extra art supplies.
The exhibit, which is the group’s first, features the group’s wide range of talents, with pieces in fiber art, painting, resin, and mixed media collage.
I found myself particularly charmed by the knowing look of Zora de Bodisco’s painted birds, particularly “Land Lord.” Against a background of turquoise and peach blocks, with bright orange accents, a single blackbird gazes down, bemused. I’ve encountered that exact gaze before on my garden gate, whilst in the throes of weeding. A feathered neighbor cocks his head as if to say, “Silly human, what are you doing?”
I was equally wowed by Leslie Janel Cramer’s surreal collages, which feature bold dominant background hues with intricate, fanciful figures and scenes layered on top. “Blue Dream” presents an orca, a scarab, and an angler fish eating the moon (hey diddle diddle, isn’t there a nursery rhyme about this?). Cramer weaves these together by swirly, multi-tone waves emerging from a tube of blue paint. It’s extraordinary where a meditation on color can take us.
Whether it’s Alice Picket Lewis’s delicately trimmed and stitched wildflowers in the fabric landscape “Path to the Inlet” or the perfect foam in the resin waves of Shirley Baldwin’s “Natural Ocean,” each piece in the show reflects the artists’ skill in drawing our eyes to those evocative, magical details of the world around us.
Dalgetty says the community response to the show, which opened on Oct. 6 and runs through October 25, has been positive. There was a good turnout and a favorable reception, she told The Gabber Newspaper.
But she encourages everyone to keep following the work of these artists. All will be featured —along with others in the collective — in Gulfport’s next Art in the Yard event on Nov. 4. As good as gallery shows are for the exposure artists need to grow, she notes, they can be a demanding space for artists to navigate. Art in the Yard, a city-sponsored event which she helped found, is both an arts-friendly and artist-friendly event.
Just another part of what makes Gulfport, says Dalgetty, “a fabulous place for artists.”
Arts All Around!
The Gabber Newspaper covers live theater and art across South Pinellas and, when we find something worth the drive, in the Tampa Bay and Sarasota areas. Read more about past Art in the Yard events, too.