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St. Petersburg, FL: Chihuly and Dali

April 1, 2011

Over spring break, my momsie and I took a little trip to Florida for the week.  Stumbling through the airport at 6 am-ish after hand selection from the TSA for a full body pat-down (including a through search of my leather gloves, understandably quite suspect), we copped as many ounces of  coffee as possible from a McDonald’s kiosk and eventually landed in Tampa.  Finally a change from Chicagoland winter climate!

The week was awesome, alternatively drinking wine (or Foster’s) on the beach, putting over 1000 miles on the brand new VW Jetta rental (which we promptly f-ed up by getting hit on the highway with flying debris) driving to the Everglades and Florida Keys, and going to some sweet galleries and museums.

At the end of the trip, we found out that in St. Petersburg, near Tampa, has a few pretty awesome museums.  First, we went to the Chihuly Collection.  This is a gallery of permanent glasswork by Dale Chihuly, a favorite artist of mine.

The space, specifically designed for this purpose, is truly magnificent.  It was a good showcase of many popular series works, such his giant floating glass bulbs, many-pieced chandeliers, and some Macchia sculptures (my favorite).

Afterwards, we went to the crazy Dali museum that was newly rebuilt and opened in January.  The architecture is amazing, with part of the wall and ceiling taken up with this wild glass geometric structure.  Salvador Dali isn’t necessarily my favorite artist, but after seeing a bigger collection of his paintings, I find myself liking his work more and more.

One of my favorite paintings was The Hallucinogenic Toreador, which is much larger than I had expected of Dali.  I especially like this painting cause it seems more of a modern surreal style rather than Dali’s more famous and “trippy” paintings.  I was also interested in his paintings working with optics, such as Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire. This painting looks like a somewhat regular Dali painting, but when you step several feet away, you notice a face made out of the negative space (the “bust of Voltaire,” a recurring element in a few of his paintings).

Overall, these two museums were a spectacular gem we came across unexpectedly at the end of the trip.  Luckily I was still alive after all the gator adventures to see them.

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