CLEARWATER — Of all the art exhibits going on in the Tampa Bay area this summer, this one is certainly the sweetest.
"Home Is Where the Art Is," an exhibit by the Tampa Bay Surface Design Guild, and "The Gardens: Brenda Schlechter One Woman Show" run inside the Osceola and Carnegie galleries at the Clearwater Main Library through Aug. 27.
For the uninitiated, surface design artisans treat fabric, paper or other materials as canvases to be dyed, painted, stamped, bleached, stitched, embossed or otherwise manipulated.
The beauty of this art form is that it is pure and from the heart. It's all about experimentation and imagination.
"Surface design is not about the technique. It's not about the perfection of the technique. It's about your creativity and interaction with materials," said Sarah Butz, exhibit chairwoman.
Featured artist Schlechter, a 65-year-old snowbird who resides in Largo and Long Island, N. Y., creates whimsical art quilts from brightly pigmented pieces of fabric.
Recently, she found a way to meld her love of painting and quilting with her desire to help others.
Schlechter is in the process of furnishing each of the 34 bedrooms in the Ronald McDonald (East) House in St. Petersburg with 12- by 12-inch art quilts, all depicting childlike scenes of houses with skies, grass, trees, suns and moons, and so forth. Ronald McDonald Houses are considered "home away from home" for the families of hospitalized children, and often the children staying there help her select the fabrics and design.
She's placed 10 house quilts so far and plans to make a total of 80 to help brighten all four Ronald McDonald Houses in the bay area. Her newest houses (headed to the Ronald McDonald House after the show) and those made by guild members are part of this exhibit.
The members' show takes place inside the Osceola Gallery, where a kaleidoscope of wall hangings showcases creativity, personality, attention to detail and mood swings. While some are light, bright and charming, others can be dark and haunting. It's all about self expression and having a ball.
Designer June Colburn took vintage white silk wedding kimonos, cut them into pieces, quilted them together, added tiny pearls and adornments, and created a beautiful piece of wall art that features motifs of cranes, a Japanese symbol of fortune and long life.
"This is our adult playtime," she said.
The Tampa Bay Surface Design Guild welcomes new members and offers a series of monthly workshops on a variety of techniques. Workshops on indigo dyeing and gelatin plate printing are coming up.
Visit surfacedesignguild.com for more information.
Contact Terri Bryce Reeves at [email protected]