Polk Museum of Art Helps Form East Lake Morton Neighborhood Watch

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College is working with the Lakeland Police Department to start a neighborhood watch program for the East Lake Morton area.

The first meeting is Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the museum. It is open to area residents and business owners, as well as members of First United Methodist Church and parents of students at Lakeland Montessori Middle School. 

"Hurricane Irma helped neighbors see the value of looking out for each other when no one had electric, and the neighborhood watch program is a natural extension of that," said Gregory Mills, the museum’s director of security, operations and technology.

Mills approached the Lakeland Police Department with the idea of starting the neighborhood watch program. He has lived and worked in this neighborhood for more than 20 years.

The East Lake Morton area boundaries are from East Palmetto Street north to East Lime Street, and from Lake Morton Drive to Michigan Avenue. The area encompasses the Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland Public Library, Mister Fish, Red Door Lakeland, First United Methodist Church, Stahl & Associates Insurance and the Junior League of Greater Lakeland. 

The museum added 24 outdoor security cameras in their parking lot over the summer to help prevent crime.

For more information about the East Lake Morton Area Neighborhood Watch program, please call Gregory Mills: 688-7743, ext. 243, or LPD Crime Prevention Practitioner Gwen Stanislowski: (863) 834-3974.

Come to The Shop at the Polk Museum of Art for Museum Store Sunday

There’s Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday and Cyber Monday. Now museum stores have their own day to focus shoppers in their direction.

 

Museum Store Sunday is Nov. 26, and The Shop at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College is on board. The museum is open 1-5 p.m. that day, and will offer specials, sales and other activities:

 

·      The first three shoppers to mention “Gino” at checkout receive a signed hardcover “Bound Ascension” catalog featuring the work of sculptor Gino Miles.

·      The first 10 shoppers receive a complimentary family membership and a “PMoA @ 43” hardcover book.

·      The first 24 shoppers get a Museum Store Sunday reusable tote.

·      The first 30 shoppers win a mystery prize with their purchase.

·      Museum members get an extra 20 percent off, and nonmembers get 10 percent off their purchase for sharing their love for The Shop on social media.

“We see how much the public already enjoys making purchases in The Shop because they know they can find something different,” says Visitor Services and Retail Manager Terry Aulisio. “We hope that Museum Store Sunday will encourage people to support a local business, while giving back to the community through our nonprofit museum. They’re sure to find unique holiday gifts and enjoy an entertaining and educational experience at the museum.”

Parents also are invited to bring their children to shop in the Elves Shelves section during Museum Store Sunday. Elves Shelves offers young shoppers lower priced gifts and includes a free gift-wrapping station.

The Museum Store Association launched this international annual event and shopping campaign to offer visitors and consumers inspired experiences and shopping opportunities provided by stores at museums and other cultural nonprofit attractions.

Museum Store Sunday encourages people to “be a patron” by shopping conscientiously and supporting museum stores and their missions worldwide. Holiday shoppers find quality gifts filled with inspiration and educational value, and their purchases at The Shop support the Polk Museum of Art’s mission and programming. 

More than 300 museums on three continents, in five countries, and all 50 states are slated to participate in Museum Store Sunday. For a complete list of participating museums and institutions and for more information, visit www.museumstoresunday.org. For more information about Museum Store Sunday activities at the Polk Museum of Art, click here

Santa’s Elves Stock Their Shelves for Young Shoppers

The elves are hard at work stocking gifts for Elves Shelves, the shopping experience for youth hosted by The Shop at Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College.

Elves Shelves starts Nov. 25 and runs until Dec. 10. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

Geared toward children ages 5 to 13 and set up outside The Shop in the main gallery, Elves Shelves features items priced mostly between $2 and $10. It provides a comfortable, fun atmosphere for young shoppers who may have a limited budget to buy gifts for family and friends. Children can make their lists and add up their gifts to see if they are within their budgets.

Shop and Visitor Services staff and volunteers provide paper, pencils and calculators to help children. If they don't find what they are looking for on Elves Shelves, there are other low-cost items throughout The Shop.

Elves Shelves also offers a free gift-wrapping station where children can wrap their gifts by themselves or with assistance. Staff and volunteers also can wrap gifts for children.

Admission to the Polk Museum of Art is free. The museum is located at 800 E. Palmetto St. Call (863) 688-7743, ext. 246 for more information.

Polk Museum of Art Receives Macy’s Grant

Macy’s recently awarded a $2,500 grant to the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College for its After School Art Family Program. This 12-session series of fall and spring classes is offered to children of all abilities ages 5-12, and their parents or guardians.

Specifically, the grant provides funds to supplement the certified art teacher’s stipend for the fall session and purchase art supplies for over 500 participants throughout the school year. All students have access to instruction, use of the museum’s classroom facilities, equipment and supplies, and are able to take home whatever artwork they produce. This program is free of charge for museum members, and nonmembers pay a nominal fee of $5 per child.

“We’re grateful for the support Macy’s provides for the program,” said Ellen Chastain, the museum’s education manager. “These classes are a good introduction for parents or guardians and their children to learn about art and artmaking together.”

The museum has offered After School Art for more than 15 years. Its objective is for children and their parents or guardians to learn new art techniques and create their own theme-based art projects. Macy’s has been a generous supporter of the program for the past three years.

After School Art has tripled its attendance since its inception. It began with a routine attendance of 20 to 25 people. The current session, which began Sept. 25, has approximately 60 attendees per class, and requires the use of two classrooms.

Chastain also uses the program as a training ground for aspiring art teachers. She has worked with Polk State College and University of South Florida art education majors in the past to teach the classes. Due to Florida Southern College’s recent affiliation with the museum, she will work with their art education majors to teach After School Art in the spring.

“We view this as a valuable professional development element because it presents an opportunity to teach in a nontraditional atmosphere,” Chastain said. “I’m pleased to say that our last two After School Art instructors went on to be hired by the Polk County School District.”

After School Art has two six-week sessions per year. Classes are held 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Mondays. The current session ends Oct. 30. The spring session runs Feb. 5 through March 12. Registration is not required. To learn more, visit the the After School Art page.   

Q&A with the Artist: Jason Myers

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College recently debuted “STATUS: fluid | dynamic,” an exhibition featuring the work of Jason Myers that runs through Dec. 10.

Here’s a look at Myers’ answers to a series of questions about the exhibition and his work as an artist.

What is your inspiration behind this exhibition?

I consider personal life experiences to be my primary inspiration, but I draw content from culture/history and the society/social issues in our lives.

This exhibition was a careful selection of works from several series, created over the past 10 years. Each series challenges certain perceptions of our lives and the answers we settle for, regarding the system within which we live. 

The aim of this exhibit was to share the unique approach I take to create in the studio. The works range from paintings, sculptures, virtual paintings and installations, and most include digital media in some way. Most of the work combines the different mixed media to create hybrid mediums. 

All the work starts with the hand in the form of drawing, painting and sculpture before it is scanned and manipulated in the digital format. It is then transferred to canvas and worked physically with many layers of paint and resin.

Most importantly, my subject is “ourselves.” My works are a reflection and metaphor for all of us. Since the beginning of art, with the cave paintings at Las Caux, artists have emulated themselves. As humans, we recognize and relate to our own reflections better than anything. A common element we all understand and a narcissistic view of the center of our universe.

What story does the exhibition tell?

I don’t think of my exhibition as comments, answers, or telling a story in a general sense. I do believe that it is a means of eliciting questions from the viewer about the world around us.

It does reflect my anxiety about life through my process, which continually evolves, by transitioning through a variety materials and media.

What is your favorite piece in the exhibition? Why?

I would consider “Visible Noise” to be my favorite pieces for many reasons. It was certainly the most difficult, took the most time, and required the most investigation of new tools and technology to create. The piece was a challenge to myself to create a work of art that captured more than a moment of time, but rather a work that was an experience of time itself for the viewer. 

It addresses the overwhelming and irreversible influence of digital technology on our lives. Within a five-minute duration, the “self” or subject is overwhelmed by and then overcomes the struggle, as the piece transitions from light to dark and back again. The handwriting symbolizes the visible noise or digital infiltration of our souls, lifestyles and the ways we live and communicate with one another. 

What does it mean to you as an artist to have an exhibition here at the Polk Museum of Art?

This is my first solo exhibition in a significant museum. It is a very important element for this body of work specifically. Most importantly, the museum allows the opportunity to share the work in its purest form, which lacks the selections being based on sales strategy or other thematic reasons of galleries or art fairs. My goal has always been to exhibit these series in a space that allows the body of work to communicate with each other visually, in its intended format.

What role does a museum exhibition play in advancing your work?

Part of my job as an artist is sharing the work with others. This exhibit has given me the opportunity to show the work in a space that presents the art in a designated higher learning environment. Museum exhibitions allow greater access to a larger audience and a wider cross section of the general public.  

Why should people come see this exhibition? What do you want them to take away from it?

I hope that people come and experience the exhibition to see something new and different than they may have ever experienced before. Being not only new methods, mediums, working processes and subject matter, but also art that questions things they may have taken the given answers for granted. I hope the audience is moved enough to evoke questions of their own, about their own lives, through a visual experience.

Gino Miles Exhibition Opens

Visitors to the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College got a taste of Gino Miles’ work when the museum installed one of his sculptures at its entrance in 2016.

The gift of that sculpture titled “Introspection” from Clearwater couple Moshe and Ella Kedan led to the exhibition “Bound Ascension: The Sculpture of Gino Miles,” which runs through Jan. 14.

Miles will discuss the exhibition at the Point of View Gallery Talk on Nov. 10. You can learn more about that here.

Miles works primarily in fabricated stainless steel and bronze. The curvilinear, often weightless appearance of his pieces creates a visual contradiction with the heavy metal materials from which they are made. His large-scale sculptures are designed to be touched, turned and viewed from different vantage points.

Some are so large that special arrangements were made to get them into the exhibition. The largest piece is titled “Shelter,” and required a crane to lift it over the museum walls and into the Sculpture Courtyard. It measures 16 feet long, 8 feet six inches wide, and stands 8 feet three inches tall. It weighs roughly 1 ton.

Several sculptures in the exhibition are a series of aluminum cubes and columns that represent the dots and dashes of Morse code.

A native of the Western slopes of Colorado, Miles earned a master’s degree in sculpture from the University of Northern Colorado in 1979.

He lived in Florence, Italy for a number of years and helped found Italart, a school for American and German students in the Chianti region. He also taught design and sculpture classes while making and exhibiting his own pastels and sculpture.

Miles and his wife reside in Santa Fe, New Mexico. You can learn more about Gino Miles here. 

 

Bill Rutherfoord Exhibition Opens

Bill Rutherfoord climbed down into the basement of his Roanoke home to search for some kind of authenticity and to explore the notion of inherited culture.

Over the next eight years he created a series of 11 large-scale paintings, colorfully detailed and densely populated, that investigates the idea of inherited culture and addresses capitalism.

Those works comprise the exhibition “Allegory of No Region” organized by the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, which is on view at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College through Dec. 10.

The artworks feature the characters Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear, made popular in the African American folktales compiled by writer Joel Chandler Harris in the late 1800s. They also feature portraits of Rutherfoord’s ancestors, all of which are used to address the state of the art world and historical perceptions of the South, according to The Roanoke Times. Characters include Confederate soldiers, antebellum men, and people from the Reconstruction era to represent the periods “that have created the southern myth as we remember it in residual form,” Rutherfoord said in a 2014 interview.

Rutherfoord called his work on this series an exercise in nostalgia. His father is a Roanoke native, his mother is from New Zealand, and Rutherfoord was born and raised in New York City.

Childhood trips to Virginia to visit his father’s relatives first exposed him to Harris’ “The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus” featuring Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. His uncle’s mother-in-law would gather all the children into her bed and read the folktales in dialect.

“They left a mark,” Rutherfoord said. “They’re designed to drill into your head.”

Rutherfoord’s artwork also is designed to leave a mark. His paintings invite the viewer into a complex interweaving of narrative, symbol and form. Some pieces portray Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox as competing business men, where Rabbit is susceptible and Fox seems to offer an advantage. It portrays a cautionary tale about capitalism’s need to find an exploitable class of people.

“Of course I was going to use this forbidden narrative to make a point,” Rutherfoord said, adding that he does this in animal form “because it’s easier for us to address our humanity through the animal filter. It makes it kind of cute and cuddly. So these are clichés used to a purpose.”

“Allegory of No Region” debuted at the Taubman Museum of Art in 2014.

The Polk Museum of Art is open Tuesdays – Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 1 – 5 p.m. 

Polk Museum of Art Debuts Second Exhibition Showcasing Figurative Art

“Faces in the Crowd,” the second in a series of exhibitions that showcases the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College’s latest acquisitions of figurative American art, has opened.

The museum will host a Point of View Gallery Talk devoted to this exhibition on Oct. 13, noon to 1 p.m. This event is free. Space is limited, and an RSVP is requested.

“Faces in the Crowd” highlights the museum’s new principal collecting focus for its permanent collection – American figurative art in painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture.

Artworks in this collection were donated to the museum by Florida Southern College alumnus J. William Meek III, who spent several decades studiously assembling one of the nation’s largest collections of figurative artworks that illustrate the human form in a myriad of styles and techniques. In addition to donating works from his personal collection, Meek gifted a collection of more than 500 artworks from major American artists and their estates.

Meek, director ameritus of Harmon Meek Gallery in Naples, also continues to organize gifts of American figurative works of art from artists and artists’ estates to the museum.

Notable works in “Faces in the Crowd” include two nearly identical artist’s proofs on display by Robert Vickrey of his lithograph “Sean’s Pulse.”

It is unusual to hang two works like these side-by-side — two apparently identical “faces” — and while at first glance they seem replicas of one another, a closer inspection reveals that they are not, said Alex Rich, curator and director of galleries and exhibitions. Each is from a different stage of the lithographic process and reveals that even works of art made from the same lithographic stone, as is the case in this instance, can be vastly different from each other despite being part of the same series.                                                                                                                              

Other notable works in the show are those featuring anonymous figures in Richard Segalman’s universally-relatable scenes.

“Most prominent in the show are Hunt Slonem’s paintings of well-known sitters like Rudolph Valentino, whose portrait is the largest and most eye-catching work in the show,” Rich said, “and Donald Trump, who in his portrait seems to stare out at you from the salon wall no matter where you stand in the room, perhaps appropriately ever-present in our 2017 lives, even in the solace of a museum.”

The exhibition takes as its jumping-off point the concept of the human figure’s diverse representations in art. The theme plays off of the idea of what it means to be a “face in the crowd,” Rich said.

The arrangement of the show includes one wall done “salon-style,” with works hung floor to ceiling, inspired by the Royal Academy salons that began in the late 17th century.

“These faces in the ‘crowd’ of paintings we have created interact and create a visual dialogue with one other and across the four walls of the gallery space,” Rich said. “Viewers also become part of this experience of looking at faces in a crowded room of paintings or a crowded wall of paintings and realize they are faces in a crowd as well.” 

“Faces in the Crowd” runs through Dec. 17. To RSVP for the Point of View Gallery Talk, please email: Reservations@PolkMuseumofArt.org.