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.   

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.

Polk Museum of Art Opens “STATUS: fluid/dynamic” Exhibition

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College is pleased to announce the opening of “STATUS: fluid/dynamic,” an exhibition featuring the work of Jason Myers.

This is the first solo museum show for Myers, a multi-disciplinary American artist based in Logansport, Indiana and Zwolle, Netherlands.

Myers works in a variety of mediums, and the aim of “STATUS: fluid/dynamic” is to share the unique approach he takes to create in his studio. This exhibition features work in steel, resin, computer-generated prints and LED video, and takes the form of paintings, sculptures, virtual paintings and installations. Complex, layered and exquisitely executed, this is a selection of works from several series he created over the past 10 years.

Myers views this museum exhibition as an important element for this body of work.

“The museum allows the opportunity to share the work in its purest form,” instead of basing selections on the sales strategy of galleries or art fairs, Myers said.

He said he hopes people will visit the museum to see something new and different than they may have ever experienced – 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,” Myers said.

Myers’ exhibition runs through Dec. 10. Admission to the museum is free daily. Hours are Tuesdays – Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 1-5 p.m.

Polk Museum of Art Reopens After Hurricane Irma

The Polk Museum of Art will reopen on Sunday, Sept. 17, 1-5 p.m. following several days of closure due to the effects of Hurricane Irma.

The museum has the following updates to events:

  • Polk State Day originally scheduled Sept. 7 is rescheduled for Sept. 19.
  • Art Lab originally scheduled Sept. 9 is rescheduled for Sept. 23.
  • VSA Student Reception originally scheduled Sept. 9 and rescheduled for Sept. 16 is postponed until further notice.
  • The Boiled Books Workshop originally scheduled for Sept. 16 is rescheduled for Oct. 7.
  • The Docent-Led Tour originally scheduled for Sept. 16 is canceled for this month. 
  • Creative Yoga originally scheduled for Sept.17 is canceled for this month. 

All other programs and events will resume as scheduled beginning Tuesday, Sept. 19.

The museum’s hours are: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Admission is free daily.

Polk Museum of Art Closes, Reschedules Events Due to Hurricane Irma

Due to Hurricane Irma, the Polk Museum of Art will be closed beginning Friday, Sept. 8 and remain so until further notice.

Museum staff are working Thursday and Friday to secure the building by removing art from the galleries and securing it in a safe storage location.

The museum has rescheduled several events to the following dates:           

  • Art Lab originally scheduled Sept. 9 is rescheduled to Sept. 16 at 10:30 a.m.
  • VSA Student Reception originally scheduled Sept. 9 is rescheduled to Sept. 16 at 11 a.m.
  • Point of View Gallery Talk with Dr. Alex Rich originally scheduled Sept. 8 is rescheduled to Sept. 22, noon-1 p.m.
  • Access Art: Special Needs scheduled Sept. 9 is canceled. It will resume on Oct. 7 at 11 a.m.

Additional changes occurring during the week of Sept. 10 are as follows:

  • School tours are canceled all week.
  •  Programs and meetings scheduled Sept. 11-13 will be rescheduled.
  • Additional programmatic determinations will be made after the storm passes.

Join Us for Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day Live!

The Polk Museum of Art will take part in Smithsonian magazine’s 13th annual Museum Day Live! event on Sept. 23.

The event is designed to emulate the spirit of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C.-based facilities, which offer free admission daily.

You could say that every day is Museum Day Live! at the Polk Museum of Art, because it offers free admission daily thanks to strategic partnerships with the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, the Share Foundation and Southern Homes. As a Smithsonian Institution affiliate, the Polk Museum of Art emulates the Smithsonian’s commitment to make learning and the spread of knowledge accessible to everyone.

“Even though admission to the museum is always free, we participate in this annual event to draw even greater attention to the Museum’s accessibility to everyone,” said Executive Director Claire Orologas. “Our participation also presents an opportunity to get the word out that we are here. There may be people in Central Florida who learn about us for the first time because they found us on the Museum Day Live! website.”

Those who visit the museum Sept. 23 will enjoy a variety of exhibitions:

·      Rembrandt’s Academy: Old Master Paintings from Private Dutch Collections, an exhibition organized by the Hoogsteder Museum Foundation, The Netherlands

·      The Figure in American Art: Florida Southern College’s New Art Museum Collection, organized by the Harmon-Meek Gallery in Naples, Florida

·      STATUS: fluid/dynamic

·      Rosenquist

·      Ancient Art of the Americas

You can learn more about these exhibitions here.

For more information on Museum Day Live!, please visit Smithsonian.com/museumdaylive.



The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College Thanks 2017 Summer Art Camp Donors

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College recently hosted a thank you breakfast for its 2017 Art Camp scholarship donors.

Donors Vicky Luffman of Lakeland and Judith Darby of Bartow also visited the classrooms with museum staff following the breakfast.

The scholarship campaign raised $13,335 to support students who otherwise would not be able to attend the camp. That amount includes a $2,500 grant from Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Inc.

The museum awarded 38 scholarships to children. Throughout the six-week summer program that ends Friday, the museum served 225 students between its Lakeland and Winter Haven locations.

Students ages 7-13 enjoyed learning and creating art in a variety of mediums such as animation, painting, skateboard design and jewelry-making. The museum has offered its Summer Art Camp for the past 29 years, and many generations of Polk County children have participated.

As noted by current parent Tifane Worsley to Education Manager Ellen Chastain, “I remember being in fourth grade and being awarded a scholarship to a summer program through the Polk Museum of Art. I’m so thrilled there is still so much support from the community.”

To learn more about the Polk Museum of Art education programs, contact Chastain at 863-688-7743 x227 or echastain@polkmuseumofart.org

Polk Museum of Art Receives Gift in Founding Member’s Honor

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College is pleased to announce the donation of a Marcel Sternberger photograph in honor of the late Anne Tucker, a founding member of the museum.

Robert and Malena Puterbaugh donated the photograph of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera with their dog, which was taken by Sternberger in Mexico City in 1952. It will be on view Sept. 30 – Jan. 7.

 “Anne Tucker was a very special person to all of us at the Polk Museum of Art,” Robert Puterbaugh said. “I will always appreciate her tremendous dedication to the museum, and her strong support of the recent affiliation with Florida Southern College.”

Tucker, who died on May 26 at age 88, was a founder of the museum’s Art Resource Trust. She served as president of the Board of Trustees in 1984-85, and as chair of the Board of Governors in 1990-91. She also served on the Strategic Visioning Committee and chaired the Museum History Committee. In 2008, she was the ninth recipient of the museum’s Harrison-Hooks Lifetime Achievement Award. 

"Our family is genuinely touched by this extraordinary gift,” said Peggy McKeel, Tucker's daughter. “We thank Bob and Malena Puterbaugh sincerely for their generosity to the Polk Museum of Art and their many years of friendship. The museum meant so much to our mother and we are indeed grateful that her legacy of love for the museum will live on through this kind and thoughtful tribute."

When displayed, the donated photograph will carry the notation, “In memory of Anne Tucker, recipient of the 2008 Harrison-Hooks Lifetime Achievement Award, Polk Museum of Art.”

The photograph, which is the first Sternberger piece for the museum, is a welcomed addition to its Permanent Collection, which focuses on figurative art.

“The theme of this work fits perfectly with our new collecting focus, in that it is a very fine portrait, and portraiture is one important aspect of the depiction of the figure,” said Executive Director Claire Orologas. “Within our Permanent Collection, we also have a strong collection of photography, including examples of great portraiture. This gift will certainly strengthen that segment of our collection even more.”

Sternberger was well known during his career, but became overshadowed by others over time until recently, Orologas said.

“During this time when his photographs are coming back to light, so to speak, it's wonderful to have one in our collection for our community to enjoy,” she said.

Sternberger is among the celebrated Pictorialists of the 1900s who photographed portraits of some of the most celebrated people of their age as they expressed poignant emotions that made them seem human and approachable. His photographs are marked by the subjects’ lively expressions revealed through minimalist lighting.

Sternberger and his wife Ilse moved to Mexico in 1952, and became friends with Rivera and Kahlo, who were known for their self-portraits. Rivera once told Sternberger his photographs were, “The first time I have seen the real me … behind the mask I have all the time,” according to “The Psychological Portrait: Marcel Sternberger’s Revelations in Photography.”