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Safety Harbor art gallery honors dresses

SAFETY HARBOR

She won't call herself a fashionista, but Susan Benjamin, owner of the Syd Entel Galleries and Susan Benjamin Glass Etc. on Main Street does admit she has always enjoyed fashion. "I've always been intrigued by it," she said. "You wake up in the morning and you are a blank canvas, and the clothes you put on is your painting. It shows your personality, whether people like it or not."

Saturday night, Benjamin is hosting an event that celebrates fashion, or more to the point, fashion's most feminine side with the opening of ARTDresses2: Tribute to the Dress. The evening will be the first glimpse of a monthlong exhibit that includes work of more than 10 artists, mixed media, sculptures, glass creations and art on canvas.

For the opening, featured artist Estella Fransbergen will be on hand. Fransbergen, who lives in Indiana, was born and raised in South Africa and studied in the Netherlands. As a raku artist, she attributes her work style to her birthplace.

"I am South African, I like primitive firing techniques," she said. "Each one is unique."

Like Benjamin, Fransbergen also refuses to call herself a fashionista. However, the feminine theme, along with Mother Nature, resonates in her life's work, she said.

"It's funny because I remember I was at a show in Montreal and someone asked if I was in fashion," she said. "When I told them that I wasn't, they said, 'Well, you should be.'"

As the title suggests, this is the second dress show for Benjamin. The first was in 2010, and the impetus came from watching her two daughters, now in their 20s, develop their fashion styles.

"They always wear dresses," Benjamin said. "When I was young, I didn't really wear dresses. For many years, women wore pants and jeans, but then dresses came back in style."

Along with enjoying the works of art, Benjamin wants the show to give visitors a chance to remember days gone by.

"The dresses in the show aren't really dresses, but they look like dresses," she said. "What we are doing is looking for the memories evoked from a dress."

Fransbergen also spoke of the theme.

"A memory is what makes the show fun," she said. "Everybody remembers a particular dress. It might be of a dress that reminds them of when they met the love of their life. It goes not just for women having a memory of a particular dress but for men, too. And at the same time, it is wonderful the way it portrays femininity."

Contact Piper Castillo at pcastillo@tampabay.com. Follow @Florida_PBJC.

If you go

The opening reception for ARTDresses2: A Tribute to the Dress, will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Syd Entel Galleries & Susan Benjamin Glass Etc., 247 Main St., Safety Harbor. The exhibit will continue through Jan. 9.

Safety Harbor art gallery honors dresses 12/01/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2015 4:42pm]
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