The late Lin Carte, who died in 2012, was such a positive presence in the Tampa Bay arts community. She used her talent not only to create art but also as an educator who worked in clinical art therapy programs in hospitals here and in Colorado.
She was best known as a printmaker and, over the years, I always admired her work in various group shows. "Lin Carte: A Tribute" at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art is the first opportunity for me, and probably many others, to see a broad representation of her output.
She was a good friend of Lynn Whitelaw, the museum's curator, who organized the exhibition, and so there is an obvious affection running through it. And honestly, the show had me at corgi. A portrait of one her beloved dogs opens it, hung above a case containing several of her sketchbooks and journals. I, too, had a Welsh corgi and I believe them to be one of the finest breeds ever to walk this earth.
That subjective sentimentality aside, I have an objective admiration for her ability as a printmaker and her clear point of view as a feminist with a sense of humor. The show is arranged chronologically, beginning with intaglio prints (in which an image is incised into a plate, such as an etching) done in the 1970s when she was in her 20s. Both Llama Glama and Brentwood demonstrate her talent as a draftsman and the group of llamas especially her wry sense of humor.
That humor threads its way throughout her work. Adam and Eve in Florida, for example, has the couple surrounded by palms and native animals such as an armadillo and pelican, and she holds an orange. (I couldn't find the snake.) A series of small-format prints named Serene Women that she created between 1992 and 2002 begins with a naked woman pushing a vacuum cleaner. Many in the group are portraits of her friends and all present the intimate moment, no matter how banal, as one to be cherished.
Carte coined the word "mixographia" to describe one her last series of larger works in which she collaged her prints and added hand drawings and sometimes memorabilia such as a leaf. They're often dense and difficult to "read" but many have a discernible unifying principal, especially color.
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A second show also celebrates the work of a local artist and friend of the museum, Dino Kotopoulis. Before retiring and moving to Florida in 1985, Kotopoulis (born 1932) had a distinguished career as a commercial artist, animator, designer and illustrator with national advertising giants as well as Disney and Universal Studios. He also was well-educated, studying at the Pratt Institute, the New York School of Visual arts and Japan's Kyoto Art Center.
The humor of "Metropolis of Kotopoulis," which consists of more than 30 sculptures and paintings, is more assertive than Carte's. The works are technically accomplished and he has a wonderful eye for color in the paintings. The boxy, stylized birds and horses made me smile. However, they aren't what we typically expect from a museum exhibition. They're whimsical, fun and decorative but not art that bears up under any sort of critical discussion or analysis. And so, I will offer none.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8293.