Masters of Spain Exhibition Opens Soon at the Polk Museum of Art

“Masters of Spain: Goya and Picasso” opens March 17 at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College.

The exhibition, which runs through June 17, includes more than 50 works of art and features the iconic “Tauromaquia” (Bullfighting) series of etchings by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, as well as rare late-career works by Pablo Picasso in multiple media from ceramic to cardboard.  The majority of the works in the show are on international loan from The Art Company, located in Pesaro, Italy.

Goya was fascinated by the concept of the bullfight as emblematic of Spanish history, as was Picasso, and that theme is represented throughout the exhibition, said Dr. H. Alexander Rich, PMA Curator and FSC Art History Professor. Goya explores the artistry and the violence of the bullfight in the complete 40 prints of the “Tauromaquia” series.

“I believe it can be argued that Goya was trying, through this series focused on the tradition of the bullfight, to revive an element of the collective Spanish spirit, which had been diminished severely following the Peninsular War from 1807 to 1814,” Rich said.

The bull was also an important symbol to Picasso, and the bullfight was something that recurred in his work. He often thought of himself as a bull, as it was the epitome of machismo, Rich said. Picasso’s depiction of the bull is present in his ceramic and two-dimensional work in the exhibition, alongside other frequent Picasso themes including women, his wives and mistresses, and cubistic still lifes. Other notable works in the exhibition come from Picasso’s 1969 “Portraits Imaginaires” series, two pieces on corrugated cardboard representing a king and queen and produced only a few years before his death in 1973.

“These pieces reflect Picasso’s unique use of materials,” Rich said. “All the way to his 91st year, he always loved to experiment.”

A number of famous ceramic works by Picasso are included in this exhibition, including “Corrida,” “Profile of Jacqueline” and “Tete de Chevre de Profil (Goat’s Head in Profile)” from the PMA’s Permanent Collection.

Picasso started working in ceramics in 1946, and the medium became his principal focus for the next nine years. Intentionally imperfect, his works in pottery were all handcrafted, as opposed to spinning on a wheel.

The Members Reception to celebrate the opening of “Masters of Spain” and “Painting a Nation: Hudson River School” is March 23, 6-8:30 p.m. It is free for members to attend; $10 for nonmembers.

The museum will host a free lecture on Goya by Roy Kerr on April 12, 5:30-6:15 p.m. 

A Point of View Gallery Talk on April 13, noon-1 p.m. will focus on the “Masters of Spain” exhibition. It is free to attend.


Director to Participate in Second Art of Film Installment

Film director Annie J. Howell will be part of the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College’s second edition of The Art of Film, a series that began in February.

 “Claire in Motion” is the featured film at this free event on March 30. The museum’s galleries open for viewing at 6 p.m. and showtime is 6:30 p.m. A Q&A with Howell takes place at the film’s conclusion.

Howell is an alumna of Whitman College, New York University's graduate film program, the Screenwriters Colony, and IFP’s Emerging Narrative. She teaches in the graduate film program at the City College of New York. She lives in New York with her husband and two sons.

In addition to co-directing “Claire in Motion” with Lisa Robinson, Howell wrote the screenplay for “Little Boxes,” directed by Rob Meyer and starring Melanie Lynskey and Nelsan Ellis, which premiered in 2016 at the Tribeca Film Festival. Netflix purchased the film. The “Little Boxes” script received an Independent Filmmaker Project Emerging Narrative Award for Best Feature, and a San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation grant. 

“Claire in Motion” is about a woman who is sure of herself, her work and her family until her husband disappears, leaving a trail of puzzling secrets that shatter her certainty.

The Art of Film features films that often echo the themes of one of the museum's current exhibitions, and includes internationally-renowned independent and arts-related movies. The series exposes attendees to films that aren’t likely to be seen elsewhere in the community, and encourages the viewing of films “more from the standpoint of appreciating filmmaking as an art instead of just an entertainment form,” said Matthew Herbertz, a filmmaker and film studies professor at Florida Southern who helped create the series.

Herbertz, who worked on the production of “Claire in Motion” as a gaffer and Steadicam operator, will lead the Q&A.

Registration is requested but not required:

Learn About Florida's Spanish History and Culture at the Polk Museum of Art

The Polk Museum of Art encourages Central Florida residents to attend their free-of-charge "Goya, Picasso & the Heritage of Spain: Exploring Spanish Culture in Florida from 1513 to Today" panel discussion on Tuesday, April 3, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

This interactive program designed for an intergenerational multicultural audience will give participants the opportunity to learn more about Florida’s unique Spanish history and culture. The event will take place in the Museum’s Kent Harrison Auditorium, 800 E. Palmetto St. in Lakeland.

The program will start with a 30-minute self-guided tour of the Museum’s "Masters of Spain: Goya & Picasso" exhibition, which served as the inspiration for aligning this panel discussion with Florida’s Spanish history. The fine art show includes Goya’s well-known "Tauromaquia" (Bullfighting) etching series and Picasso’s little known ceramic plates, one of which depicts a bullfighting scene, among other works. A networking reception hosted by Florida Southern College will be available simultaneously to enable guests the opportunity to share their viewing experiences.

At 7 p.m., PMA Curator and Florida Southern College Art History Professor Dr. H. Alexander Rich will lead the 60-minute panel presentation by introducing the program’s overarching theme and asking the audience to consider the following: If Goya and Picasso identified the bullfight as the most potent symbol of Spanish tradition, what can we identify as essentially Spanish in Florida today? Dr. Rich will also set the historical context of Goya and Picasso’s work, introduce the panelists, and facilitate the 30-minute Q & A session with the panelists following their presentations.

The distinguished speakers and their individual topics include University of South Florida Spanish Professor Dr. David Arbesú, who will focus on the history of Spain in Florida from Juan Ponce de León’s first expedition in 1513 to Pedro Menéndez de Avilés’ founding of St. Augustine in 1565; FSC Spanish Literature Professor Dr. Melissa Garr, who will present Florida’s Spanish literary history from Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca’s text "Shipwrecked" in 1528 to Ernest Hemingway’s "For Whom the Bell Tolls" in 1940; Polk State College Ceramics Professor Andrew Coombs, who will discuss the art of pottery, Picasso’s ceramics, and pottery discovered at Tristan de Luna's 1559 Settlement site in Pensacola; and Centro Español de Tampa President John A. Rañon, who will address the history and living legacy of Spanish immigration to Tampa.

This collaborative educational program is funded by a Florida Humanities Council (FHC) Community Project Grant that was made possible through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the FHC or NEH. For more information, contact Director of Arts Advancement Suzanne Grossberg here.


Meet the Judge of MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake 2018

Each year, a number of cash awards are presented to artists whose work is on display at the Polk Museum of Art’s MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake, and one judge plays the important role of determining those winners.

Leland Michael Bryant will serve as the fine arts competition judge for the 47th annual Mayfaire, held May 12-13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. along the shores of Lake Morton in downtown Lakeland.

Bryant served as a photographer and lab manager to Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C. from 1991 until 2008, when he retired to devote more time to teaching and making art.

Bryant received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photographic illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and his Master of Fine Arts degree in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College in Vermont.  He worked at Penn Camera Washington, D.C.  in sales for several years. He also started teaching photography at this time, and has served as an instructor for more than two decades.

"As a teacher, a museum professional and an artist himself, Michael has spent his entire career looking at, responding to, evaluating and learning from works of art,” said Executive Director Claire Orologas. “I know he'll do an excellent job."

Award winners will be announced at Mayfaire Saturday Night at 8 p.m. on May 12.

For more Mayfaire information, visit the Mayfaire by-the-Lake website.

Accomplished Concrete Sculptor Offers 3-Day Workshop

As a graduate student at Middle Tennessee State University, Elder Jones lived in a cabin in the woods without electricity, running water or a phone.

When noted Tennessee sculptor Jack Hastings – who lived nearby and worked out of his Sewanee Deepwoods art studio – needed help working on a big commission for the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Jones jumped at the opportunity, which offered the promise of company and $4 an hour.

Jones would mix cement in the mornings and Hastings would begin carving after it set. When Hastings had some concrete left over, he would ask Jones if he wanted to make something. Hastings offered no instruction; just the tools.

“Jack never taught me anything,” Jones said. “I saw his tools and his work, and he just turned me loose.”

Jones “piddled” with this newfound hobby for a while, but got serious about wet-carved concrete sculpting after a stint in California, where a woman took an interest in his work and pushed him to make more. His work began to take off and some of it wound up in a Berkley art gallery.

The Chattanooga native eventually returned to his home state and joined the Tennessee Association of Craft Artists. He had a great studio space, sold his work, and got the occasional commission, he said, adding that creating art was “much better than hanging wallpaper.”

In the years since, his work has been featured on HGTV’s “Our Place,” in Southern Living Magazine, and in the San Francisco Examiner, as well as in two books by Sherri Warner Hunter.

Sharing the Knowledge

Jones began offering workshops to teach others the art of wet-carved concrete sculpting. They have great appeal for him.

“It’s just fun,” Jones said. “After an hour or so, you look around and see everyone carving away and no one is saying anything.”

Then out of the blue someone invariably breaks the ice by announcing, “This is so much fun.”

“It’s very engrossing,” Jones said. “You get to watch yourself make something.”

Jones is “totally amazed all the time” by the sculptures and planters students make in his classes. Every student is different. Some want guidance. Some never ask Jones anything and suddenly he looks over and wonders to himself whether he’s teaching them anything or he should be learning something from them.

Dr. Seuss versus The Soup Nazi

Here’s what you can expect from Jones when you take his upcoming wet-carved concrete sculpting class at the Polk Museum of Art: A delicate blend of gentle instruction and stern pushing to get it done.

It begins with a lot of “Cat in the Hat,” where Jones gently encourages everyone, he said. But as the concrete begins to harden, Jones admits that he channels his inner Soup Nazi and pushes students “to get done because if you miss a spot, it’s permanent.”

Join us March 23-25

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College is excited to offer a three-day Wet-Carved Concrete Sculpture Workshop with Jones March 23-25, and we hope you’ll join us for this hands-on experience.

The deadline to register is March 4 and can be completed here. Call for more information: (863) 688-5423.

Polk Museum of Art Receives Florida Humanities Council Grant to Support Goya, Picasso & the Heritage of Spain Panel Discussion

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College is pleased to announce that it has received a Florida Humanities Council Community Project Grant to support a panel discussion entitled Goya, Picasso & the Heritage of Spain: Exploring Spanish Culture in Florida from 1513 to Today. The free-of-charge program will take place at the Museum on Tuesday, April 3, from 6:30-8:30 pm. This project was one of six selected to receive funding out of 19 applicants.

A distinguished panel of presenters from four institutions collaboratively developed the humanities-focused program to coincide with the Museum’s Masters of Spain: Goya & Picasso exhibition on view from March 17-June 17, 2018. Included in this show that will be open for viewing prior to the program are Goya’s iconic Tauromaquia (Bullfighting) series of etchings and Picasso’s ceramic plates, one of which depicts a bullfighting scene, among other works.

Using the exhibition as inspiration for the discussion theme, PMA Curator and FSC Art History Professor Dr. H. Alexander Rich, who will serve as panel moderator, invited University of South Florida Spanish Professor Dr. David Arbesú, FSC Spanish Literature Professor Dr. Melissa Garr, Polk State College Ceramics Professor Andrew Coombs, and Centro Español de Tampa President John A. Rañon to consider the question: If Goya and Picasso identified the bullfight as the most potent symbol of Spanish tradition, what can we identify as essentially Spanish in Florida?

Their collective responses formed the content of this 90-minute program that includes a 30-minute audience Q & A. Dr. Rich will introduce the panel, present the thesis, and set the context for subsequent presentations. Dr. Arbesú will focus on the historical presence of Spain in Florida from Juan Ponce de León’s first expedition in 1513 to Pedro Menéndez de Avilés’ founding of St. Augustine in 1565. Dr. Garr will trace cultural encounters that took place throughout Florida’s history beginning with Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca’s text Shipwrecked in 1528 and ending with Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls in 1940. Professor Coombs will discuss the art of pottery, Picasso’s ceramics, and the recent pottery discovered at Tristan de Luna's 1559 Settlement site in Pensacola. Mr. Rañon will present the history of Spanish immigration to Tampa and the Spanish heritage that is embedded in Tampa today.

To learn more about this PMA public program funded by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, contact Director of Arts Advancement Suzanne Grossberg at 863-688-7743 x298 or

"Painting a Nation" Showcases Distinct American Painting Style

American artists set out to blaze a unique artistic trail in the early 19th century by developing their own distinctly American landscape narrative. In doing so, they developed the first native school of painting in the United States.

Called the Hudson River School, it isn’t a physical institution or academy, but is a term used to describe a grand, romantic style of landscape painting championed by its founders.

Nearly two dozen examples of that effort are part of “Painting a Nation: Hudson River School Landscapes from the Higdon Collection,” which is on exhibit at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College March 10 through May 20.

Together, these paintings celebrate the picturesque beauty of the United States and reflect the collective desire of the Hudson River painters to develop an American visual language that was independent of European schools of painting. Prior to this effort, American artists had looked to Europe for aesthetic themes and painterly methods of depicting the world around them.

The second generation of Hudson River School painters — many of whose works are in this exhibition — extended the visual vocabulary to include subjects along the Atlantic Coast and Far West, which reflected the expansion of the United States during the mid-19th century. The Higdon Collection also includes a selection of still-life paintings that complement Hudson River landscape themes by interpreting nature in an indoor setting.

This exhibition organized by the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina features works by significant American artists including Albert Bierstadt, William Bradford, Jasper Francis Cropsey, William Hart and William Trost Richards.

The exhibition showcases the private collection of Charleston residents Ann and Lee Higdon. Natives of New York, the Higdons developed an interest in art as teenagers. They often visited museums and found themselves drawn to Hudson River School paintings. After marrying and purchasing a 19th century home overlooking the Hudson River, they began to collect paintings of the Hudson River School in the 1980s. For nearly 40 years, their interest in this artistic period has endured, resulting in the collection of works in this exhibition.

You can learn more about this important body of work by joining us for our Point of View Gallery Talk March 9 at noon. Registration is not required, but his appreciated. The Members Reception to celebrate the opening of this exhibition and the "Masters of Spain: Goya and Picasso" exhibition is March 23 at 6 p.m. It is free for members and students with a valid ID to attend. Nonmembers are $10 per person.




HeartMath® Comes to the Polk Museum of Art

Does your voice get shaky when you speak in front of an audience? Do you feel yourself breaking out in hives when you’re in a high-stress meeting? Do you get butterflies in your stomach when you anticipate an uncomfortable conversation with someone?

There are constructive ways of coping with these types of stressors, and a program taught by wellness consultant Kelly Andrews will teach these valuable techniques during a one-hour session in our galleries on Feb. 28 at noon. This free class, called HeartMath®, will be held quarterly.

“There is a lot of research and literature about the health benefits of visiting art museums, including the reduction of stress,” said Claire Orologas, the Polk Museum of Art’s executive director. “The HeartMath® class is another way to engage the public and to facilitate experiences with works of art that have meaning for them, which is ultimately what we want.”

Learn to Handle Stress

Andrews will teach resilience tools including basic emotional tracking techniques and simple breathing practices that help you prepare for, recover from or adapt to stress, anxiety and challenges. These tools will help shift your inner state to one of peace and stillness, even in the midst of chaos.

“We can learn to prepare our bodies for situations that may trigger anxiety, stress and sadness,” Andrews said, adding that the museum is a good space for this training because “it’s such a quiet, receptive environment. The magic of the energy in the space is that it just slows you down.”

Breathing techniques can be performed ahead of time to help calm nerves and promote clear thought. These methods provide a way to intentionally slow the heart rate and breathing.

This is beneficial because research shows there’s more communication from the heart to the brain than the other way around. Research also shows that energy levels are related to emotions, and emotions are directly connected to the ability to cope with stress. 

HeartMath® uses science-based technology and programs to help people take charge of their lives. The methods it employs help reduce stress and anxiety by increasing inner balance and self-security.

Breathing techniques and self-regulation tools help increase awareness in difficult situations. Instead of getting triggered, they enable a person to step back and address the situation calmly.

Trigger Emotions

“When we’re angry or sad, we don’t always realize it,” Andrews said. “For most of us, we have a trigger emotion.”

Those emotions are labeled high- or low-energy. High-energy negative emotions that deplete energy include anger, irritation and impatience. Low-energy depleting emotions include sadness, withdrawal and low anxiety.

Examples of high-energy renewing emotions are joy, passion, excitement and love, and low-energy renewing emotions include peace, serenity, ease and calm.

“A lot of people think they have to be in the ‘low-energy positive’ realm all the time,” Andrews said. “What’s cool about the research is that it doesn’t matter if the renewing energy emotions are high or low. They’re all beneficial.”

A Practical Tool with One Huge Benefit

These tools for developing resilience could have the most practical applications in your work.

“If you get your button pushed in a meeting, you can practice these techniques and they will help you dial down those emotions that are coming up,” Andrews said. “This is something you can do as you’re walking from one place to another or sitting in a staff meeting.”

One of biggest benefits people who practice these tools report is better sleep. Adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night report higher stress levels than those who sleep at least eight hours a night, according to the American Psychological Association.

Register Today

Registration for this class is not required, but it is appreciated: For questions, call Membership and Marketing Manager Diana Smith: (863) 688.7743, ext. 249.


The Art of Film

A new film series at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College encourages people to look at films as more than just entertainment, but to see them as works of art as worthy of being in a museum as a Renoir or a Picasso painting.

The Art of Film is a free monthly series that begins Feb. 10. The museum doors open at 6 p.m. and the galleries will be open to view the current exhibitions prior to show time at 6:30 p.m.

The first film in the series is “The City of Lost Children,” directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, and starring Ron Perlman.

Released in 1996, this French film was selected to accompany the current “Renoir: Les Études” exhibition, which runs through March 11. “The City of Lost Children” is about a scientist in a surrealist society who kidnaps children to steal their dreams, hoping that they slow his aging process. 

A discussion will be held at the film’s conclusion, and will include the Florida Southern professors who created the film series:

·      Matthew Herbertz, a filmmaker  and film studies professor

·      William Allen, a filmmaker and digital communication professor

·      Alex Rich, an art history professor and the Polk Museum of Art’s curator

Many museums throughout the country offer film series, and Rich was excited to collaborate with Herbertz and Allen to bring a series to the Polk Museum of Art, he said.

The series will expose attendees to films that aren’t likely to be seen elsewhere in the community, and will encourage the viewing of films in a new light. The professors approach the films more from the standpoint of appreciating filmmaking as an art instead of just an entertainment form, Herbertz said.

 “The series creates an opportunity where we’re encouraged to critically think about the medium,” Herbertz said.

Allen looks forward hearing what the audience brings to the conversation. As people have learned about the film series, Allen has heard from those who are excited to have something like this in Polk County.

“There are people who live here and attend similar events in Tampa,” Allen said. “There’s a craving here to have these sorts of discussions within our community.”

The organizers hope to shed light on how art and media infiltrate society and entertain us, and to encourage viewers to look at how films impact them, as well as the broader messages they send.

The goal is to expose the community to film in a new way that includes discussions on content and form.

The museum and film connection makes sense because film comes from still art, Herbertz said.

“I think that it’s really easy to discredit filmmaking in general as just entertainment,” he said. “Every film is a piece of art. Hosting this series in a museum setting allows audiences to approach the viewing more from an appreciation standpoint instead of just escapism.”

The selected films, which will often echo the themes of one of the museum's current exhibitions, will include internationally-renowned independent and arts-related movies.

Visit our events calendar for future dates in the film series.