St. Petersburg’s Imagine Museum opened in the spring of 2018, and it has become one of Florida’s go-to centers for contemporary glass art.
Peak pandemic days, of course, made things a little dicey – attendance, as it did at museums nationwide, went way down, and a couple of regrettable layoffs ensued – but the current, waning winter season has seen stock in this most unique art center shoot back skyward.
“We’re really excited to be coming out of that time,” explains executive director Jane Buckman. “So we can begin again and really think about ‘OK, what’s happening in St. Pete? Where are we gonna go?’
“In 2023, it will be five years since we opened. So we’re working on our strategic plan for the next five years. It really is a good time.”
So good, in fact, that between 1,000 and 1,500 people are visiting Imagine each week, an all-time high.
Opening Saturday is Florida: In Transformation, a juried exhibition of 50-plus studio glassworks from 39 Florida creatives, all of whom answered Buckman’s Call to Artists last October.
“I asked them to submit works that would communicate how it is to live in this state – or what is it about this state that has inspired them?
Several of the artists are locally-based, including familiar names like Duncan McClellan and Marlene Rose. However, says Buckman, “I had no idea what to expect. I knew the artists here in this area, I know a few on the east coast, but I was really delighted by all of the entries.”
The art arrived from Forts Myers and Lauderdale, from Miami and Melbourne, from Pensacola and Palm Beach and points in between.
And every piece is unique. “When you walk into the show,” believes Buckman, “I think you will be able to read Florida. Maybe just by some of the obvious imagery. But then others, maybe not. Maybe it’s just having to do more with the personal narrative of the artists.”
This exhibition comes under the auspices of the United Nations, which has declared 2022 the International Year of Glass. After opening with a global conference in Geneva, Switzerland, “they really are highlighting the science, the technology, and also the art of glass, with scientists and researchers all over the world talking about this remarkable material, as well as those who make contemporary glass art.”
International Year of Glass has brought together nearly 300 academic institutions, 167 associations and 221 museums to celebrate the uses of glass – including the artistic – all over the world.
Florida: In Transformation opens with a ticketed reception, with the artists, starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (April 30). Information is available here.
“Sun Salutation,” Rick Eggert, Stuart, Florida.