Make us your home page

Review: Mindy Solomon's last show is fluid, and so is the Miami-bound art dealer


Times Art Critic


The current exhibition at Mindy Solomon Gallery, "The Paintings of Erin Parish," is a departure for its owner. Solomon has always admitted to a bent for what she calls narrative art, works that tend toward the figurative or might suggest a backstory.

These paintings seem to be all spirits melting into thin air (paraphrasing Shakespeare). They're filled with translucent orbs resembling bubbles, shimmering with color and looking as if they could burst at any moment. Some are given more substance as cast resin, creating a dimensional effect on the wood or canvas, and the luminosity is enhanced by glistening coats of epoxy.

The artist gives them descriptive titles that belie their impression of pure form. In A Sudden Gust of Wind, for example, the circles float in dense formation, accented by small ones painted metallic silver. The subtitle, After Hokusai, references the sea spray depicted in The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, the famous woodblock print by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai created in the 19th century.

Lemon is just that: a deep dive into yellow saturation, but most of the paintings have more nuanced colors. Subtle grays, yellows and greens back up the predominant flesh tones in Kiss, a gentler title for a work that visually seems to picture two large orbs colliding.

That this exhibition represents a thematic departure for Solomon is made more significant by the fact that she is departing St. Petersburg, moving her gallery to Miami after this show closes on Sept. 14.

She opened the gallery in 2009 in downtown, just off Beach Drive, as the area began building a critical mass of condominiums, restaurants and retail. It is a serene, light-filled space that has always shown art to its best effect.

And the art she usually chose was ambitious and challenging. Her specialty is contemporary ceramics, with a particular interest in Korean ceramics, and the heroic scale of the sculptures she sometimes brought in was as breathtaking as the cerebral vessels she also displayed. As time went on, she broadened the gallery's scope with paintings, video, nonceramic sculpture and photography.

Miami makes sense for her. She has clients here with whom she'll continue to work, but her business is increasingly national and international, just as most of the artists she represents are. Miami's a larger market frequented more and more by art-hungry collectors from South America.

"I feel like I need to expand my critical mass and get into a city that has a broader art-loving public," she says. "I have clients here that have spent well into the six figures, and I'm grateful to them. But generally, I think St. Petersburg needs more time."

She sold the space to Philippe Berriot, who owns Cassis American Brasserie next door. He has no specific, long-range plans for the space, he says, but it won't become part of the restaurant. He's thinking perhaps a gallery and performing arts space in the short term.

The gallery business is tough in any market, and galleries come and go everywhere. Our region has seen its share of arrivals and departures, occasions for optimistic welcome or collective disappointment. Ybor revitalization pioneer Brad Cooper shuttered his gallery in 2013 (for a more lucrative market in Greece), Carrie Mackin closed Covivant, her seminal Seminole Heights space, in 2006 (for work in New York), and Lori Johns of St. Petersburg's C. Emerson Fine Arts recently decided that her bricks-and-mortar operation was unnecessary since she has found success at national art fairs and online.

There are for-profit galleries that do just fine here, but owners often need a supplemental income from a side business such as framing. And we can't necessarily count in the same category artists who operate successful galleries. Glass artist Duncan McClellan's fabulous and successful rehabbed warehouse is essentially his art studio and a demonstration space to showcase the craft of blowing glass vessels. (It's also a great party venue.)

We are a vibrant arts community. We have nine museums in the region and hundreds of arts-related organizations and businesses. (That's visual arts — I'm not including the performing arts or science and history museums.) A lot of very fine art is created here, too.

But we aren't a top-tier art market, and that's a big deal to those selling art for a living. The art world can be cruel and snobbish, and for some collectors, New York provenance is a necessary validation. Neither the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts nor Mainsail Arts Festival come close to matching the caliber and cachet of Art Basel Miami Beach. And Girls actor and writer Lena Dunham, in her Tampa rant, alluded (unwittingly, I'm sure) to a truth about our region. It's a great place to live, and generations of creative people have flocked here. Robert Rauschenberg lived on Longboat Key for decades, for example. He did not, however, sell much of his work here. He could afford an expensive beachfront compound because he sold his great art elsewhere, in epicenters like New York.

So, yes, I'll miss Mindy Solomon and the vitality of her vision. I'm proud of her, too. She's one of ours, going for the big time.

The Paintings

of Erin Parish

The exhibition is at Mindy Solomon Gallery, 124 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg, through Sept. 14. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. or (727) 502-0852.

Review: Mindy Solomon's last show is fluid, and so is the Miami-bound art dealer 08/26/13 [Last modified: Monday, August 26, 2013 4:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again


    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  2. Taste test: new snack foods from Lay's, Duncan Hines and more

    Taste Test

    After foraging through our hurricane kits and noshing on all the fun snacks — even before Irma hit, for some of us — our judges were ready to find some new nibbles. This week, panelists enjoyed new chips, a new dessert and what they described as the perfect children's party food.

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


    Zac Brown Band: The country, folk and Southern rockers embark on the "Welcome Home" tour in support of the album. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $27.50-$77.50. (813) 740-2446.

    Handout photo of the Zac Brown Band, performing at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on 9/24/17. Credit: Shore Fire Media
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 23


    Smithsonian Museum Day Live: Museums across the nation partner with the Smithsonian to offer free admission for one day. Among them are Florida Holocaust Museum, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.Cracker Country in Tampa, Ringling Museum of Art. Note: Dalí Museum is free for Pinellas County …

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)
  5. Tampa Repertory's 'Flying' soars in some places, sputters in others


    TAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre has always insisted on putting on plays that mean something. Several shows over the last couple of years have zeroed in on the social and cultural baggage that comes with being female (The Children's Hour, Silent Sky and Grounded come to mind). None of those …

    The Southeastern premiere of Flying, Sheila Cowley's play at Tampa Repertory Theatre about veterans of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots, includes (from left) Holly Marie Weber, Rosemary Orlando, and Becca McCoy. Photo by Megan Lamasney.