Sept. 11 is a somber day in our national life, one that marks a terrible event that destroyed lives and scarred many more. I like the idea of publishing our annual preview of area museums' exhibition schedules today because, in important ways, the creative spirit has had a great healing effect.
Philippe de Montebello, the great retired director of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, once wrote that right after 9/11, people poured in there, quietly standing, sitting in galleries, seeming to find solace in a place that celebrates our better angels. Kent Lydecker, now director of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, was an associate director at the Met at the time, in charge of education, and he has spoken of organizing programs and activities that addressed both this collective grief and a yearning for hope.
American museums have, for two centuries, provided inspiration to anyone willing to look for it. There is much to look for right here, in the museums we of the west-central coastal region call our own.
For the first time in years, there is no major expansion story to go with our preview. The biggest museums have completed those projects. The John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota in 2007 and Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, in 2008 added to their existing facilities, and the Tampa Museum of Art opened a new building in 2010. The grand finale was the Dalí Museum, which debuted its new building in January and has been breaking records ever since.
The Leepa-Rattner Museum in Tarpon Springs and the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, both in Tampa, have made known their desire to grow, but they seem to have tabled plans because of the leaden economy.
So, this year, it will probably be all about the art. And there is much to celebrate.
You will also see in this preview schedules from the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum in Winter Park. They aren't in our west-central coastal area, but they are close enough to many Times readers to merit inclusion.
I can't make considered judgments about the upcoming shows because I haven't seen them, but based on the information, the exhibition of Egyptian antiquities at Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, beginning in December, looks to be the largest and most ambitious.
There are many more I'm also excited about. Look through the list and marvel, as I do constantly, at the variety and quality available to us. For that, I thank all the museum staffs and donors who make them possible.
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
255 Beach Drive NE St. Petersburg (727) 896-2667; fine-arts.org
Opening Saturday through Dec. 4
Story and Symbol: Dutch and Flemish Paintings From the Collection of Dr. Gordon and the late Adele Gilbert
The Gilberts, a distinguished philanthropic couple, assembled a beautiful collection of 16th and 17th century paintings from Northern Europe over a 35-year span, and selections from it are on view.
Opening Saturday through Nov. 27
The New York School: Selections from the Gollay Collection
Another private collection is also featured, that of the late Benjamin Gollay, a lawyer who developed a love for what has become known as the New York School, which included artists Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell, for example.
Continuing through Nov. 13
Four Portfolios of the 20th Century: Archipenko, Gropper, Evans and Doisneau
Two lithographic and two photographic portfolios by four distinguished practitioners illustrate and document developments in the print medium.
Dec. 17 through April 29
Ancient Egypt — Art and Magic: Treasures From the Fondation Gandur pour l'Art
Not only will this be a sumptuous display of artifacts, the exhibition will be arranged in an engaging way, focusing on the magical or spiritual qualities of the objects in ancient Egypt rather than the traditional historical narrative. Noted Egyptologist Robert Steven Bianchi is curating it from the collection of Fondation Gandur pour l'Art, which has what many consider to be the finest private collection of antiquities in the world. This is an important show.
1 Dalí Blvd. St. Petersburg (727) 823-3767; thedali.org
The Dalí Museum's permanent collection has always been its big draw and it will continue to be showcased into the summer of 2012. Looking ahead, its first major special exhibition will be really special: works by the famous contemporary artist Jeff Koons in October 2012. More on that in next year's preview.
Symbols of Strangeness
Works on paper and pieces of jewelry Dalí created from 1917 to 1958 are examples of the way he combined art and popular culture. The works on paper are a combination of commercial designs and drawings using his recurring motifs that were often translated into a product.
(Con)serving the Masters
Several months ago, the museum was awarded a $44,000 grant for art conservation and will begin work on cleaning and refreshing some of its masterworks. Some of that process will be on view to the public along with installations explaining the delicate art of conservation.
Tampa Museum of Art
120 W Gasparilla Plaza Tampa (813) 274-8130; tampamuseum.org
Through Sept. 25
Syntax: Text and Symbols for a New Generation
Text-based art from the mid 20th century to the present, with major modernist and contemporary names comprising this show.
Through Oct. 16
The Hillsborough River: From Green Swamp to the Bay
Karen Glaser, Tampa's photographer laureate for 2011, exhibits her portfolio tracking the river from its source to its end.
Through Dec. 31
Realism: Selections from the Martin Z. Margulies Collection
Realism is rethought in contemporary works on loan from a distinguished private collection in Miami.
Oct. 8 through Jan. 8
No Limits: Janet Biggs
Biggs' videos are the extreme sports of that genre. Her pursuit of high-risk subjects has led to dramatic narratives about life, death and human struggle. This show will include her best-known work such as Fade to White, which follows explorations of the High Arctic.
Jan. 26 through May 6, 2012
Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections
Bearden wasn't a great black artist; he was a great artist, period. This exhibition includes about 80 career-spanning works: his famous collages along with paintings, watercolors and prints, organized by the Mint Museum of Art.
Florida Museum of Photographic Arts
200 N Tampa St. Tampa (813) 221-2222; fmopa.org
Through Nov. 6
Life and Death by Duane Michals
This show covers Michals' work between 1964 and 1996, when he developed and became famous for his sequential photography. He would assemble a group of photographs that formed a narrative, often accompanied by his handwritten text that added more meaning.
Nov. 17 through Jan. 8, 2012
Bud Lee's America
Lee's career as a photojournalist has taken him far and wide, his work appearing in every major magazine and winning strings of awards. He moved to Plant City in the 1970s and became a major force in the Tampa arts scene. This show celebrates his long and distinguished career.
Jan. 19 through March 11, 2012
Tampa: A Town With a Past
This sounds like a fun show, assembled with the Tampa Bay History Center, which opened its archives for the vintage photographs, rarely exhibited, on view. Some will be paired with contemporary photos of the same locations and Ybor City will be highlighted with videos.
USF Contemporary Art Museum
4202 E Fowler Ave. Tampa (813) 974-2849; usfcam.usf.edu
Sept. 30 through Dec. 10
The Talent Show
The exhibition, with a roster of international artists, will examine the conflicting demands of fame and privacy, audience and artist. Organized by the Walker Art Center.
Jan. 13 through March 3, 2012
Mark Dion: Troubleshooting
Are we capable of complete objectivity? Of course not, and artist Mark Dion's art sits at the crossroads between objective scientific methods and subjective influences on our relationship to nature. His installations and multiple media works will mostly be based on Florida's ecology.
March 30 through May 5, 2012
MFA Graduation Exhibition
The USF Contemporary Art Museum hosts this annual exhibition featuring master's research projects by MFA candidates in the School of Art and Art History.
June 4 through Aug. 3, 2012
Three Miami artists exemplify the change in the Miami art scene with its increasingly international reputation and wealthy collectors who buy locally.
Aug. 20 through Dec. 14, 2012
The Importance of Being Photographed
Being photographed used to be a Big Deal, requiring a visit to a professional's studio and posing for hours. Today, well, you know how it is, every cell phone can snap you whether you know it or not. "The Importance of Being Photographed" takes us back to the original dynamic of photographic portraiture between the photographer and subject. Stemming from a recent gift to USFCAM from the Andy Warhol Foundation, this exhibition will present Polaroids taken by Warhol in the 1980s, in addition to the work of younger photographers who address the nature of being photographed.
Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art
600 Klosterman Road Tarpon Springs (727) 712-5762; spcollege.edu/museum
Bassmi Ibrahim: The Isness of Being
The Egyptian-born artist creates abstract oil and acrylic paintings drawn from his meditative states.
Annual Visual Arts Faculty of St. Petersburg College Exhibition
Clearwater and Tarpon Springs faculty members exhibit paintings, ceramics, photography and mixed media.
Oct. 2 through Dec. 4
Remembering Frank Rampolla
A retrospective exhibition organized by the museum of paintings by figurative expressionist Rampolla, who died in 1971 at age 40. The exhibit includes 39 loans from area museums and private collections, plus a gallery guide.
Nov. 13 and ongoing
Re-Installed LRMA Permanent Exhibition Galleries
Nine exhibition galleries re-installed with themed shows drawn from the permanent collections of LRMA and the newly acquired Gulf Coast Museum of Art collection.
Dec 18 through Feb. 19, 2012
Telling Stories: 10 Donors / 10 Works and 10 Years of Collecting
Two exhibitions celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. The first recognizes the major donors and the building of the collection in various media.
Feb. 26 through April 29, 2012
Telling Stories: Prints from the Collection
The second exhibition thematically explores the extensive print collection the museum has amassed in 10 years as part of its educational mission.
May 13 through July 15, 2012
Works by Warhol from the Cochran Collection
This exhibition of more than 30 large-format silkscreens by American pop art master Andy Warhol (1928-1987), created between 1974 and 1986, includes works from the Myth Series, Cowboys and Indians and other print editions.
July 29 through Oct. 14, 2012
Contemporary Art in the Gulf Coast Museum Collection
One of the strengths of the Gulf Coast collection is its survey of contemporary Florida art, many of which are large works that have not often been shown.
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
5401 Bay Shore Road Sarasota (941) 359-5700; ringling.org
Through Oct. 30
Crosscurrents of Design: Asian Export Ceramics
Beginning in the 15th century, functional and fanciful objects such as those displayed traveled from Asia to Europe to grace the homes of the wealthy.
The Art of Jade
Lovely examples from the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) from the collection of Helga Wall-Apelt.
Opening Saturday through Jan. 29, 2012
The Amazing American Circus Poster: The Strobridge Lithographing Company
Before the circus came to town, colorful posters were plastered all around to build excitement. Eighty examples convey those posters' drama and theatricality during the golden age of the circus.
Feb. 18 through June 3, 2012
Peter Paul Rubens: Impressions of a Master
The exhibition features more than 75 engravings based on paintings by Flemish Baroque master Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). The prints will be displayed with paintings by Rubens from the Ringling collection, one of the premier collections of works by the artist in the United States.
Polk Museum of Art
800 E Palmetto St. Lakeland (863) 688-5423; polkmuseumorart.org
Sept. 17 through Dec. 10
Jessica Lange: In Mexico
Jessica Lange — yes, that Jessica Lange — has become a photographer with a professional reputation, having a show at the prestigious George Eastman House to her credit. This portfolio from her visits to Mexico is a coup for the Polk, the result of a friendship between the actor and one of the museum's board members.
Sept. 17 through Dec. 10
En Plein Sight: Paintings by Lilian Garcia-Roig
The Cuban-born artist and professor uses thickly applied paint for her landscapes that hover between realism and abstraction.
Dec. 17 through March 24, 2012
Hunt Slonem: An Expressive Nature
Slonem's birds and bunnies have become almost iconic images of the painter, who paints realistic subjects in a spare, abstract style. Slonem is also well known for his colorful homes and eclectic collections that have been featured in books and shelter magazines.
March 31 through June 27, 2012
Sketches & Steel
Albert Paley is an abstract sculptor, but he's certainly not a minimalist. He has made several monumental works for exterior commissions; the collection here will probably be a bit smaller, to fit the galleries. A nice addition will be the drawings he creates as studies.
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
445 N Park Ave., Winter Park (407) 645-5311; morsemuseum.org
Louis Comfort Tiffany's Laurelton Hall
The museum houses the world's most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and a new wing features art and decorative items from his famed residence, Laurelton Hall, displayed in galleries suggestive of the actual rooms of the now-destroyed mansion.
Oct. 18, 2011, through Oct. 7, 2012
Roseville Pottery from the Morse Collection
Roseville Pottery Co. of Ohio was one of the most prolific and long-lived art potteries in the United States. The show highlights 24 Roseville vessels that are new additions to the permanent collection of American art pottery.
Feb. 14 through Feb. 3, 2013
Watercolors by Otto Heinigke
Heinigke was a principal in the prominent Brooklyn stained-glass firm Heinigke and Bowen and painted landscapes and still lifes for recreation. More than 30 watercolors from the permanent collection have never been exhibited before.