Date Day: Getting Our Culture On

We’ve lived in Saint Petersburg for about two years now, and there are still plenty of places we have yet to go. So when my friend had to cancel our weekend plans, I asked Mister Mister if he’d like to do a date day at the Museum of Fine Arts, and lunch on Beach Drive, a waterfront area of downtown. Of course, he was game.

Beach Drive is one of our very favorite areas — there’s this gorgeous park on one side, with plenty of shade and grass for picnics, and waterfront areas for biking and jogging. And on the other side, there are plenty of restaurants and shops and little inns.

The museum is huge, with a tremendous permanent collection and special photography and glass exhibits. We went to the Museum of History last year, which was awesome, but hadn’t yet made it to this one. The exterior alone is just fantastic.

We probably spent a good two or three hours there. Some of our favorite pieces (you could take non-flash photography in the permanent collections, but not special exhibits):

Peter Sarkisian: Extruded Video Engine II, 2007

This thing was awesome. Made of vacuum-formed thermal plastic and video projection, it “uses images of machinery and streaming text, eliminating the [human] form entirely.” It’s impossible to tell here, but all those little pieces moved and whirred and made noises.

Frederic Karoly: Attala, 1958

The artist would lay canvas on his floor and pour oil paint on the surface, letting it just flow unexpectedly and create these semi-transparent layers. According to the little sign, Karoly became a pilot “in order to incorporate into his art the character and feeling of the sky and being suspended in it.”

Balcomb Green: Le Pont Neuf, Autumn, 1967

Greene was originally a Cubist and Constructivist, but started dabbling in realism after WWII. “This one is set in the heart of Paris on the famous bridge, with la Samairtaine, the city’s oldest department store, in the background. The rigid grid of the city fades and a figure emerges, walking allone — diffused, and blurred, suggestive of the existential angst that pervaded western culture during the Atomic Age and the Cold War.”

Joseph Goodhue Chandler: Portrait of Frederick Eugene Bennett, August 18, 1949; Portrait of Mary Elizabeth Bennett, Age 2, March 18, 1852

These folk art paintings just made us laugh. Apparently, he would paint adult sitters with no regard for their surroundings, but “with the very young, however, he included a landscape, as well as toys, pets, and other references to the child’s world.”

Michael Goldberg, The New Dump, 1964

I love a good abstract collage. “Although nearly non-objective, this painting suggests a landscape with a view of the water beyond, placing it squarely in the tradition of American landscape painting.”

After the museum, we ate at the Parkshore Grill across the street, where I pretty much devoured a burger.

What did you do this weekend?


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