Destinations in Paintings: The Kasten Collection

Henri Duvieux, Venise, ca. 1882-1884, Oil on canvas, Alex & Barbara Kasten Collection

July 7 – December 5, 2015

Dorothy Jenkins Gallery & Gallery II
Exhibition organized through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Kasten

Alex and Barbara Kasten have been collecting art for decades. This exhibition celebrates one of their most cherished collecting focuses: 19th-century academic painting. These 33 works of art, dating from the 1860s to the 1920s, represent the breadth of the Kasten Collection and offer audiences the opportunity to see a past era through the paintbrushes of 28 distinguished artists from England, France, Germany, and Austria. This collection was assembled by Mr. and Mrs. Kasten with the guidance of the Kurt E. Schon, Ltd. Fine Art Galleries in New Orleans.


Exhibitions Partner:

Annual Exhibition Fund Sponsors:

Dorothy Chao Jenkins
CNP · Clark/Nickdel/Powell
Florida Southern College
The Linda & Alan Rich Fund
Reitzel Foundation
Southern Homes
Sheryll Strang


An American in Venice: James McNeill Whistler and His Legacy

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Long Venice, c.1879-1880, Etching on laid paper, Gift of Mr. Cloud Wampler, SUAC 1963.1022, Courtesy of the Syracuse University Art Collection

October 10 – December 5, 2015 

Gallery II
Organized by the Syracuse University Art Collection

In 1879 American artist James McNeill Whistler arrived in Italy with a commission from the Fine Arts Society of London to create twelve etchings of Venice. Over the ensuing fourteen months the artist produced a body of prints that are among the most important of his career. The prints from Whistler’s Venice period are distinguished by the artist’s original approach to capturing the unique qualities of the canaled city and his innovative use of the etching process.  His prints have arguably become the most studied prints in the history of art– after those of Rembrandt – and they had a significant influence on his followers.

Whistler sought to capture a “Venice of the Venetians,” and his prints depict palazzo entries, private courtyards and sweeping views over the canal where Venice’s most famous monuments rarely appear or are background features. His career-long interest in the effects of light and water were enhanced by his technical innovations developed in this period.

This exhibit presents eleven prints by Whistler, placing them alongside the work of followers who were practicing in Italy in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.  The juxtaposition of these works allows the viewer to appreciate both Whistler’s innovations and the different ways in which his work affected the artists who followed him. While artists such as Mortimer Menpes and Joseph Pennell still enjoy a modicum of fame, other artists in this exhibit, like Minna Bolingbroke, have faded.  Whistler’s legacy lies in his far-reaching vision for both his medium and his subject, which has made his art significant for a remarkably broad range of colleagues.


Exhibitions Partner:

Chao Foundation Text.png

Annual Exhibition Fund Sponsors:

Dorothy Chao Jenkins
CNP · Clark/Nickdel/Powell
Florida Southern College
The Linda & Alan Rich Fund
Reitzel Foundation
Southern Homes
Sheryll Strang


Other Destinations

August 22, 2015 – December 13, 2015

Perkins Gallery

Other Destinations is curated from the Polk Museum of Art permanent collection and celebrates the allure of “somewhere else.” Formed as a counterpart to the current major exhibition Destinations in Paintings: The Kasten Collection, this exhibition highlights a contemporary critique of experiencing some new place or escaping our daily environments for renewal in some foreign space.

Hansen Mulford, Woods Near Jupiter Springs, 1990, Oil on linen, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 1990.89, Gift of the friends of Selma and Lester Wishnatzki in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary

Other Destinations is also intended to explore why we 21st-century travelers are drawn to specific locations and the criteria we use to interpret them. Why do we connect with certain places? How do we familiarize ourselves with and relate to other destinations?  Those questions often make intriguing subjects for contemporary artists, who are always chasing the “new.”

Most artists these days do not approach a destination strictly based on its aesthetic qualities. Unlike 19th-century academic landscape painters who relished in the natural beauty of a site, modern artists more often examine the surrounding context of a location, allowing that to form the visual landscape. This isn’t to say neither they, nor we modern viewers, do not acknowledge and appreciate the unique physical beauty of another place; we usually flail in the serenity provided by such beauty. But as our world grows increasingly smaller, it doesn’t always seem enough to marvel at a place’s objective beauty; there are nowadays subjective and unseen qualifiers that play in our full understanding of an inspiring destination.

The artworks included in Other Destinations are perhaps less literal and in some ways less lyrical than those romantic paintings from the academic tradition. Many of them contain a cerebral interpretation of a destination, or are perhaps visual commentaries on the society or culture of a specific place. In its characteristic tradition, modern art represents a world that no longer needs to be literally represented and inhabited; modern destinations must be contextually experienced, not geographically explored; understood according to their diverse social and cultural climates. Other Destinations provides that contemporary compliment.


November 7, 2015 – January 24, 2016

Murray & Ledger Galleries

Tony Guinn, Untitled, 2011, HTC Android Photograph

Through the evolution of the mobile device, fine art photography has undergone a reformation. Whereas the digital camera shifted photography from a time-intensive chemical process to a more immediate electronic art form, the contemporary touchscreen mobile device has concentrated it further to be more efficient and accessible. Combined with numerous downloadable apps and pervading social media, anyone can use their mobile device to capture a digital image, manipulate its appearance, and share it with an international audience in a matter of seconds. Purists may scoff at this modern iteration of photography, but that does not discount its effects on the field or its acceptance by the art world.

With this exhibition, Polk Museum of Art hosts its very first exhibition solely dedicated to touchscreen photography while also celebrating the work of a local photographer.

Tony Guinn is perhaps best known as the proprietor of Tony’s Studio B in downtown Lakeland. Before that, however, he was known for his work as a photographer. This exhibition explores Guinn’s experiments with and gradual acceptance of the benefits of his HTC Android camera phone. Behind these images is an unsaid conflict between a curious artist and an undeniable high-tech phenomenon.

(detail image) Carol Prusa, Wreath, 2007, Silverpoint, graphite, Titanium White and Mars Black paint, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2010.4, Gift of Dr. Harold and Bernice Steinbaum © Carol Prusa

Collection Spotlight: Carol Prusa’s Wreath

August 15 – November 22, 2015

Hollis Gallery

Carol Bensema Prusa grew up in the Chicago area. She earned a B.S. in Biocommunications/Medical Illustration from the University of Illinois in 1980. Her MFA (Painting, Drawing) was received from Drake University in 1985. She taught art at Drake University and at Iowa State University for several years.

Carol Prusa’s detailed and patterned images resemble the structures of the universe and the structures of the miniscule features that make up the material world. For this reason, she conceives her work to have an immediate impact while including fine detail to lure viewers closer.

Prusa’s drawing skill combined with her interest in science led her to the rather unusual major of Medical Illustration. Sensing that work as a medical illustrator would be creatively limiting, not satisfying the desire to “think differently every day and be challenged… I figured painting was a place where I would never be satisfied so it would be a challenging and engaging life, and that I would have to learn new things all the time.”

The artist begins by covering wood panels with smooth layers of gesso, then patterns them using tiny silverpoint hatch marks. The drawing is enhanced with graphite and dry pigment combined with an acrylic binder to create thin, gray washes. Finally, white paint is mixed with acrylic binder and used either for highlights, or to add new images to the drawings.

Wreath will be on view in the Hollis Gallery as part of a series of exhibitions featuring a single work of art from the Museum’s permanent collection.

Continuing Exhibitions

Remojadas Culture, Seated Male Figure, 500-700 CE, Ceramic, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 1983.1.6, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. David Taxdal

Ancient Art of the Americas

David and Lucia Taxdal Pre-Columbian Gallery

Ancient Art of the Americas, a refocused installation of the Museum’s collection of Pre-Columbian artworks which was completed in December 2000, and updated with recent acquisitions in March 2003, features a comprehensive overview of artifacts from Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Peru. The gallery is divided into two themed rooms. Warriors, Priests, and Rituals presents effigies related to those three categories, including bound prisoners, warriors ready for battle, and priest figures. The second room is arranged geographically, with artifacts grouped according to the current name of the country in which they were found. This arrangement allows visitors to see how cultures that were geographically close influenced each other. This room also contains an archaeology display which explains how scientists uncover and interpret artifacts like those in the gallery.


Sculpture Court

Contemporary works by  by James Bassham, Jane Jaskevich, Fonchen Lord, Carol Brown and Michael Mick are featured in the Museum's permanent outdoor exhibition space.

Material World: A Global Family Portrait

Marks Gallery

The Material World: A Global Family Portrait exhibition is the result of American photojournalist Peter Menzel’s project to help viewers grasp a sense of cross-culture realities and to celebrate our common humanity. Sixteen of the world’s foremost photographers traveled around the world, visiting thirty different countries to live for a week with families that are statistically average for that nation. At the end of each visit, the photographer and subjects collaborated on the Big Picture, a remarkable portrait of the family outside of its home, surrounded by all of its possessions. This exhibition is an attempt to capture through photos and statistics, both the common humanity of the peoples inhabiting our Earth and the great differences in material goods and circumstances that make rich and poor societies.

Hungry Planet: What the World Eats

Marks Gallery

For the first time in history, more people are overfed than underfed. And while some people still have barely enough to eat, others overeat to the point of illness. To find out how mealtime is changing in real homes, authors Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio visited families around the world to observe and photograph what they eat during the course of one week. During their project, they sat down to eat with twenty-five families in twenty-one countries.

As Peter and Faith ate and talked with families, they learned firsthand about food consumption around the world and its corresponding causes and effects. The resulting family portraits, which are displayed in this exhibition, offer a glimpse into the cultural similarities and differences served on dinner plates around the globe.

This show joins Material World: A Global Family Portrait in the Marks Gallery to stimulate further thought and discussion about cultural commonalities and differences.