FLORIDA HOLOCAUST MUSEUM:BAK IS BACK
What would Samuel Bak's art have looked like if the Holocaust had not occurred?
That he would have been an artist seems a given; his talent was recognized when he was a child in the Lithuanian town of Vilna and he probably would have flourished in that cultural hub. When he was 7, his world was shattered by the Nazi invasion. As Jews, all his family were sent to camps and all but he and his mother died in them. He was 11 when the war ended and his lifelong subject matter was already formed.
"Samuel Bak: A Retrospective of Seven Decades" opens Saturday at the Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth St. S, St. Petersburg, and though he has exhibited many times at the museum, this one is different. Past shows have been devoted to his various series; this retrospective spans his career.
His central theme has always been the Holocaust but his paintings are far removed from other artists' treatment of it. He combines Renaissance technique and Surrealist sensibility in landscape and still life works that use metaphor and symbolism rather than graphic portrayals of the tragedy. He alludes to dislocation using floating trees over a barren terrain and to dead children by the toys left behind, for example. His work is unmistakably his own and unforgettable.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $16 adults, $14 seniors, $10 college students and $8 youths 8 to 18. (727) 820-0100. floridaholocaustmuseum.org.
INSPIRING:NEW SHOWSAT STUDIO@620
One of the few things the multitasking Studio@620 hasn't done is a boat show, though I'm sure if given the challenge, the creative folks there would figure it out. Creative events and performing arts have always been the studio's forte, but for more than a year, art exhibitions have been given new priority and vitality with Kenny Jensen as the curator.
Through March 7, see two shows: works by Neverne Covington and Rebecca Skelton, 2015 winners of the Director's Choice Award, and "A Moment Noticed," paintings by Olga Stamatiou. Covington and Skelton have been active in the regional arts community and, as talented artists, deserve the recognition. This is Stamatiou's first foray into Florida, and her work, all 6-inch squares, chronicles her life on the road, accompanied by a video.
Her road trips are beyond special. She's a veteran of interactive art programs for children's hospitals and crisis centers and now she takes her program, Seewall Child, to places that have experienced natural disasters or other traumas via an emergency mobile service vehicle and trailer. She will work with relief organizations in providing a mobile art studio and a mobile kitchen. What a beautiful idea.
The studio doesn't have a lot of formal hours for the public to visit but usually the office is staffed and can let you in. Best to call first: (727) 895-6620.
NORMA LEWIS: A SPECIAL ARTIST'S ESTATE SALE
I didn't know Norma Lewis but I so wish I had. She was a beloved art teacher and gave her time and talent to many organizations. She was a founding member of Studio 1212 in Clearwater. All of the members had the distinction of studying with William Pachner, a great artist who lived for a time in Pinellas County. And she had a cool antiques store, Harpies Bazaar in downtown St. Petersburg, for many years.
She died in August at 86 and left behind a legacy of respect and affection. She also left behind art. Her children will hold a sale Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. that will include her paintings, those by others in her collection and a trove of art supplies in her studio. The sale will be at her home, 7660 14th Ave. N, St. Petersburg.