Make us your home page

Doll exhibit at Florida Craftsmen Gallery toys with whimsy


Times Art Critic


Dolls are probably the oldest toys in the world and also have a long history as ritualistic objects. Beginning in the 20th century, they became fine craft collectibles.

"All Doll'd Up!" at Florida Craftsmen Gallery has dolls that can be put into all three categories. None has been created as a toy but there is plenty of whimsy to suggest playfulness. There is in some a Tim Burton sensibility that suggests the dark side of imagination.

Calan Ree's mixed media characters, for example, have the pale faces and big, soulful eyes of Burton's Corpse Bride animated movie. Trent Manning's dolls, situated in small environments made from found objects, also have a cinema-animation aesthetic with spindly, elongated limbs and exaggerated heads.

Many of the artists give their dolls names to add to the sense of individual personality. Chomick + Meder infuse their works with a wry irony. Marguarite Oiseau has the head of a well-dressed matron and the body and legs of a beautiful partridge in fine feather. (Oiseau is French for bird.) And the most hilarious dolls in the show are their Baby Calvin and Baby Chloe, who slightly resemble Moe and Curley of the Three Stooges.

The most extravagant and eccentric doll examples come from Joan Allen. Her wild-maned, broad-featured women in crazy-quilt finery come both with names and story lines on cards attached to their wrists. Salina "Lives in a dark house in the woods. Only seen at night. Collects dragonfly wings, small stones, smooth sticks. Hums, never speaks." Yvonne is "strict, loves control, color, Scotch, short skirts. A keeper of gossip, known for giving advice. Don't take it."

Brenna Busse and Chris Bivins' dolls have talismanic qualities. Bivins' are more abstracted and ceremonial. Busse's serve a spiritual purpose such as the Healing Story series titled Healing Heart, Letting Go and Open to Change.

It's a fun show and the stage is set before you step through Florida Craftsmen's door, which has a sign advising you to "Back up 10 steps and look up." When you do, you'll see two giant pairs of legs created by sculptor Sandy Eppling dangling over the balcony, reminiscent of the Wicked Witch of the West's fateful encounter with Dorothy's house. This show, too, is a long way from Kansas.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at (727) 893-8293.

If You Go

"All Doll'd Up!" is at Florida Craftsmen Gallery, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, through June 8. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Free. or (727) 821-7391.

Doll exhibit at Florida Craftsmen Gallery toys with whimsy 05/01/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 4:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What's Dar Williams reading?



    Dar Williams

    For our Independence Day Nightstand, we caught up with Williams, a singer-songwriter (The Christians and the Pagans and The Beauty of the Rain) and author who is well-versed in the highways and byways of America. By phone recently, she shared how her newest …

    Dar Williams performs at the Opening Night Party of the 2016 Greenwich International Film Festival in Greenwich, Conn. Her newest book is “What I Found in a Thousand Small Towns.”
  2. Whiskey wasn't my thing, but then I visited the Teeling Distillery in Ireland



    If you drink your way through a four-day trip to Ireland, can you make an honest recommendation on anything?

    The focal point of the Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Dublin is the copper pots used in the process.
  3. Great trailers for great movies: 1982's 'The Thing'


    John Carpenter knows how to make a movie. And even way back 35 years ago in 1982, Hollywood knew how to make great trailers for them. Keep in mind this was a rare moment of serendipity during a time when movie trailers were - frankly - just wince-worthy.

  4. Looking Back: Adele and her baby koala come out of hiding (December 27, 1991)


    This story appeared in the pages of the St. Petersburg Times on December 27, 1991. What follows is the text of the original story, interspersed with photos of the event taken by Times staff photographer Tony Lopez.


    By Amber Grimes

    Times staff …

    Kunara, Busch Garden's shy baby koala, has been working his way out of his mother Adele's pouch since his birth.

TIMES | Tony Lopez
  5. Taste of Tampa Bay: Pam's Roti Shop and Caribbean Market in St. Petersburg

    Food & Dining

    Pam Prasad, who is originally from Guyana, runs Pam's Roti Shop and Caribbean Market on 38th Avenue N in St. Petersburg with her two sons. Prasad loves to educate her customers about her food, customs and culture. The place is known for its variety of roti combinations, goat dishes and spices.

    Pam Prasad makes roti at Pam's Roti Shop at 2800 38th Ave N. in St. Petersburg. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]