FACE TIME: PORTRAITS AT THE MFA
Ah, the portrait. It seems like such a straightforward art: portray a person as you see him. But things get in the way of verisimilitude — the vanity of the sitter or the ego of the artist, for example. The best portraits balance both impulses in finding an essence in an individual without sacrificing individual expression. "Contemplating Character: Portrait Drawings and Oil Sketches From Jacques-Louis David to Lucian Freud," opening Feb. 13 and continuing through May 29 at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, gives viewers 152 examples of portraiture from the late 18th into the 20th centuries. Some of the artists, such as Freud, almost always used people as their subjects. The photographer Brassai, on the other hand, is famous for his moody scenes of Paris. All the works come from the collection of Robert Flynn Johnson, a curator emeritus of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco who has collected portraits for decades.
We're previewing this show early because in advance of "Contemplating Character," the museum's Make and Take activity on Saturday invites you to create your own cast of characters. It's designed for children 5 and older with full family participation encouraged. It's free with admission, and even though the new show won't be open yet, the permanent collection has an abundance of portraits to enjoy.
Hours at the museum, 255 Beach Drive NE, are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with extended hours to 8 p.m. Thursday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. $17 adults, $15 seniors and $10 students 7 and older including college students with ID. Free for kids younger than 7. $5 after 5 p.m. Thursday. (727) 896-2667. fine-arts.org.
MONUMENTAL: KRONSNOBLE AT CLAYTON GALLERIES
As a longtime admirer of Jeffrey Kronsnoble's oil paintings, I love the beautiful technical prowess and the art history references that can be enjoyed with no knowledge of art history. A collection of his works is on view at Clayton Galleries, 4105 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, through March 5. The show includes new works plus works that represent each decade of his five decades as a professional artist. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. (813) 831-3753. claytongalleries.net.
FRESHWATER SPRINGS ETERNAL: HCC YBOR
With all the bad news about contaminated drinking water in Flint, Mich., AQUIFERious seems well-timed. The exhibition opens Thursday at Hillsborough Community College's Ybor City School of Visual and Performing Arts Gallery with paintings, photographs and maps of our state springs and the aquifer below that supplies their water. Among the featured artists is Margaret Ross Tolbert, whose book, AQUIFERious, was published in 2010 with art and writings by her and other contributors to raise awareness of this water system's endangerment.
A free opening reception is Thursday from 4:30 to 7:15 p.m. with artists' talks beginning at 6:15, plus video shorts of the springs and a question-and-answer panel led by Chris Meindl with the University of South Florida Department of Environmental Science. The gallery is located at Palm Avenue and Fifth Street in Ybor City. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
MORE IN YBOR: SILVER METEOR GALLERY
This show, too, has a water theme, but more nurture than nature. On view in "Liquid Experiments" are paintings by Ken Echezabal, whose practice is explained in this way: "He begins by pooling intricate concentric circles of paint onto glass and then slides and stretches the image to a secondary canvas." That sounds like a tricky technique but the results are hypnotic patterns and vibrant colors. The exhibition opens Saturday with a free reception from 7 to 11 p.m. Other hours are by appointment. 2213 E Sixth Ave. in Ybor City, Tampa.