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. We Tried That: Working on a food truck for a day


    What we tried: It seems like everyone and their mother wants to open a food truck.

    Carlynn Crosby prepares food at the Empamamas food truck in the Cigar City Brewing parking lot in Tampa this month. For a variety of reasons, food trucking is not for the faint of heart.
  2. Hernando Events for May 26-June 1



    26 Friday

    Free Zika training: Presented by the Hernando Computer Club, the training is for those who wish to assist in the effort to find a cure for the Zika virus. Club members are volunteers for World Community Grid and are donating their devices' spare computing power to …

  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 24


    Damien Escobar: The acclaimed hip-hop violinist who has played for presidents tours in support of the album Boundless. 7:30 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $35-$45. (727) 791-7400.

    HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03:  Recording artist Damien Escobar performs onstage during the BET Presents Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at Lakewood Church on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for BET)
  4. The new 'Baywatch' movie is basically about hot people in swimsuits


    Baywatch is a running gag in slow motion, a thong-in-cheek TV retread swapping wholesome jiggles for dirty giggles. There are places for such humor but beaches don't have gutters.

    Kelly Rohrbach as CJ Parker, Alexandra Daddario as Summer, Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden, Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon, Zac Efron as Matt Brody and Jon Bass as Ronnie in the film, "Baywatch."
  5. Think we're loco? The most unlikely Phil Collins soundtrack hit of the '80s


    Phil Collins was on the level of Kenny Loggins for soundtrack supremacy, but Collins wasn't content to stay in the background as he jumped back into acting with the movie Buster that spawned a solid soundtrack that included hidden gems like Loco In Acapulco by the Four Tops.