This is what we call a transitional period in the museum world. Summer shows are ending and we're still weeks away from the beginning of the larger exhibition season. There is still plenty to be seen in our west-central Florida museums, not the least being the permanent collections. There are four bay area museums with little gems as well, modestly sized and conceived, some culled from their collections and not always on view and some are on loan. Each has a specific idea in its arrangement. Consider them an amuse bouche on your way — and it'll be a while, meteorologically anyway — to the fall harvest.
n Dangerous Women John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art through Oct. 11
Here's a mystery. Artists through the centuries have portrayed the drama of two women from the Bible: Judith, who beheaded the Babylonian general Holofernes, and Salome, who had John the Baptist's head presented on a platter. Thing is, some artists got their imagery confused. The Ringling presents a delightful show-and-tell using paintings from its collection that point out the similarities and differences in each scenario and one that even scholars can't identify with certainty as depicting Judith or Salome. You get to study the evidence and be the judge, casting your vote for one woman or the other. Robert Henri's 1909 portrait , shown, is unmistakably Salome the seductress.
n Dali Seen Through Glass Salvador Dali Museum through Nov. 2
The Spanish surrealist was famous for his love of experimental collaboration. He dove into advertising, films and decorative objects with the same enthusiasm he brought to his serious art. Between 1968 and 1984, he produced glass sculptures with Daum Crystal. The French company specialized in art nouveau styles in the 19th century and perfected the process known as pate de verre, meaning glass paste, in which glass fragments are packed into a mold, then fused, creating a luminous surface. Dali, of course, made the process his own, designing sculptural forms that evoked images from his art. They're witty as well as pretty.
m Recent Acquisitions of Photography | Museum of Fine Arts through Sept. 6
The museum has a large collection of photography but rarely had space to display it. In its new wing, opened in 2008, a gallery is devoted to it and other works on paper. Currently, 50 images, most of them recent gifts, are on view and span the history of the medium with works by 19th century pioneers such as Eadweard Muybridge through contemporary artists including William Wegman, Carrie Mae Weems and David Armstrong whose Clemens, Vienna, 1980, a Cibachrome print, is shown.
n Triptychs by the Plein Air Cottage Artists Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art through Aug. 30
This very small show has only four works in one of the museum's smaller galleries but the paintings are charming reminders of what we have loved most about Florida, beach cottages that are more and more becoming relics as they give way to more expensive and lucrative uses for beachfront property. Few of us will ever get to live in one but here, we can dream. Helen Tilston, Mary Rose Holmes and Violetta Shtumeyzen of Indian Rocks Beach worked together on the oil paintings. Here you see Old Florida Summer Cottages.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8293.