Make us your home page

Large glass sculptures provide 'gem of a show' at Ringling


The big show at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is "Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World." It's a fascinating look inside the world of gifted artists who made careers copying or working in the style of famous artists and passing it off as genuine.

But the museum has a lot more to see in addition to the show and its magnificent permanent collection. A gem of a show also on view is "Precarious Possessions," large sculptures by glass artist Beth Lipman.

She is admired for her installations resembling Baroque and Renaissance still lifes lush with objects and food. They are rendered in clear glass using a variety of techniques, including cast, blown and lathe-worked.

Three works occupy the Astor galleries. Crib and Cradle are exactly what their names imply: a life-sized crib for a baby and an adult Shaker cradle used to rock the dying, both in glass. The crib is tilted, looking as if it's sinking into the floor. They're powerful symbols of life at its beginning and end, sleek forms becoming abstract in their simplicity.

Sideboard With Blue China is fabulous extravagance. The artist has created a huge Victorian sideboard inspired by one exhibited at the New York City Crystal Palace in 1853 and another in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It takes up a temporary gallery wall and measures 25 feet in length and 9 feet in height. As dumb as it sounds, my first word on seeing it was "Wow." (The communications director who was with me grinned; apparently, it's a common reaction.)

There's nothing blue about it. Lipman glues flat trees and flowers to the wall as a scenic backdrop that emulates period wallpaper. Wood painted white is fashioned into an elaborate sideboard inlaid with glass sculptures. An eagle presides from the topmost perch. The title comes from a quote by Victorian writer Oscar Wilde: "I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china."

Wealthy Victorians were tasteful hoarders and enthusiastic consumers, cramming their living spaces with furniture and decorative objects. Having the means to live well was a sign of moral superiority, a belief that puts Wilde's remark into context. He, after all, spent jail time for having a homosexual relationship. As the Victorians would have done, Lipman piles the ornate piece of "furniture" with clear vessels, some brimming with what appears to be food.

But ... maybe not. Intestines, anyone? Yes, this lovely still life is composed of human organs. Our bodies, too, are consumers.

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


Precarious Possessions

The exhibition is at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, through Sept. 7. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with extended hours to 8 p.m. Thursday. Admission is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $5 for students with ID and children 6-17. It includes admission to the art museum, Ca' d'Zan (not open during extended hours) and the circus museum. Admission to the art museum only is free on Mondays. or (941) 359-5700.

Large glass sculptures provide 'gem of a show' at Ringling 06/17/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 7:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. From the archives: Account of famed Riggs-King match heightens Tampa mob intrigue


    With the Sept. 29 opening of "Battle of the Sexes" — the movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell about Billie Jean King's landmark 1973 tennis win over Bobby Riggs — we thought there might be renewed interest in this 2013 Peter Jamison story from the Tampa Bay Times.

    Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in "Battle of the Sexes."  [Melinda Sue Gordon, Fox Searchlight Pictures]
  2. Halloween Horror Nights: 'The Shining,' 'Saw' and more things to give you nightmares at Universal Orlando


    The 27th year of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights will scare the pants off you -- in the best possible way.

    The scare zone inspired by horror flick Trick r' Treat is one of the most beautiful at this year's Halloween Horror Nights 27.
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 22


    Arcade Fire: The wildly acclaimed indie rock outfit tour in support of their fifth album, Infinite Content. Presumably, the band will also play songs from their first few albums. Wolf Parade opens. 7 p.m., University of South Florida Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. $35-$75. (813) 974-3004.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08:  Musician Win Butler of Arcade Fire performs onstage during The 24th Annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Shrine Auditorium on December 8, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for
  4. What the 10 terms Merriam-Webster just added to the dictionary say about our foodie culture


    Joining "troll" (as in, a rude person on the Internet, not a bridge-dwelling creature), "alt-right" and "dog whistle," 10 food-related words were added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary this week. That's out of 250 new terms, a pretty good ratio that signals the ongoing shift toward a more food-obsessed culture, one …

    IPA is one of the words recently added to the dictionary.