Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College Offers Summer Intern Gallery Talks

Lakeland, Florida – The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College will offer special student-led gallery talks this summer through the college’s budding Museum Studies program.

The affiliation between Florida Southern College and the Polk Museum of Art allows the college to build upon its Art History program by adding a Museum Studies program, which is set to launch this fall.

The new Department of Art History and Museum Studies, led by the Museum’s Executive Director & Chief Curator Dr. H. Alexander Rich and housed in the Museum, will typically offer four to six courses a semester. Students will experience a close-up look at what museum work entails. They will have the added benefit of being exposed to works of art in person rather than via projected images in a traditional classroom setting alone.

“The premise for the program is first and foremost to expose students to works of art and, beyond that, to permit students to glimpse firsthand future applications of their classroom learning in the career opportunities they see around them at the Museum,” said Dr. Rich.

Along with the new department, FSC students can apply for a competitive six-week summer internship program that will work in tandem with the Museum Studies program. Open to all undergraduate students at the college, no matter their major, summer interns are given the unique opportunity to work across a range of disciplines, such as art history, education, or marketing and learn the inner workings of the Museum.

One highlight of the summer internship program — now in its second year — is the gallery talks the interns offer the public. Interns will enhance their research and speaking skills by presenting on a specialized subject related to the Museum’s current exhibitions.

“Members of the community in attendance will gain fresh perspectives on our summer exhibitions and experience a unique set of programs that speak deeply to the life of the Museum as an educational institution,” Dr. Rich said.

Both the summer internship program and the new Department of Art History and Museum Studies aim to utilize the Museum as an educational resource and provide a link between the public community and FSC students.

The summer intern gallery talks will be held on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm and Wednesday, July 3, 2019 from 2:00 – 3:30 pm.  


Dr. Alex Rich to Head Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College

 Alex Rich at the Melvin Gallery at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fl. Monday, May 20th 2019.  FSC/Calvin Knight

LAKELAND (May 22, 2019) – The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College has appointed Dr. H. Alexander Rich to be the Executive Director and Chief Curator for the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. Dr. Rich joined Florida Southern in August 2014 as assistant professor of art history, heading the art history program and directing the galleries and exhibitions. In June 2017, he assumed the additional role of curator and director of galleries and exhibitions for the Polk Museum of Art, as part of an affiliation agreement between the two organizations.

“It’s a great honor to be given the opportunity to lead a distinguished community and academic art museum,” Dr. Rich said. “The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College has long been a core contributor to the life and culture of Lakeland and Central Florida. Since its affiliation with Florida Southern, the Museum has begun to make new and important contributions as an academic museum, promoting diverse areas of scholarship and broader community education and outreach, among other initiatives.”

Dr. Rich looks forward to “continuing to enhance the Museum's offerings and maintaining its integral relationship with the broader Lakeland community,” and building upon the strong legacy of excellence established by Claire Orologas, who has announced her retirement.

Dr. Rich earned his A.B. degree in English and Art History from Dartmouth College, and both his M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from The Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. His museum experience began with a high school apprenticeship as a tour guide at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, followed by internships at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Met, membership in the Exhibitions Committee at the Hood Museum of Art, and a research/writing fellowship in the Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. He also worked as assistant to the Head of Museum Interpretation in the Education Department of the Whitney Museum, and as an adjunct professor at Hunter College, City University of New York, and the Fashion Institute of Technology.

“Dr. Rich has been a transformative leader as he has helped to guide the affiliation between Florida Southern College and the Polk Museum of Art,” said Museum Board Chair Lynda Buck. “He has worked to strengthen the Museum’s vital role in the local arts community while expertly directing its added mission of becoming a superior academic museum, bringing in world-class exhibitions that benefit the public and students alike.”

Founded in 1966 as the Imperial Youth Museum and renamed the Polk Public Museum in 1969 to better reflect its emphasis on art, history, and science, Lakeland’s premiere not-for-profit art museum doubled its exhibition and classroom facilities with the purchase of a vacant Publix Super Market building in 1970. Together with the School Board of Polk County, staff members worked to establish and sustain a curriculum-based art education program. The institution received accreditation from the American Association of Museums in 1983, and was renamed the Polk Museum of Art. Its current facility on Palmetto Street was formally dedicated in September 1988.

Claire Orologas, executive director and chief curator of the Polk Museum of Art since 2012, will become Executive Director Emerita. She ably led the Museum to national prominence. Ms. Orologas plans to continue a life-long role as an ambassador for the Museum and give presentations on various art topics. She will be relocating to a new home in Micanopy, Florida. In addition, Ms. Pal Powell will continue as Deputy Director. Ms. Powell has been in a leadership position at the Museum for more than twenty-seven years and is highly regarded.

Contact: Rebecca Paul-Martin

Paul Fullerton Exhibition Set to Open at Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College

LAKELAND, FL – The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College announces the opening of “Paul Fullerton: Forces of Nature,” an exhibition presented in the museum’s Sculpture Garden.

 The show opens June 22 and runs through Nov. 10, 2019.

 Fullerton completed his first major sculpture commission, “Nike,” in 1975. Located in Miami’s Biscayne Bay, the sculpture measures 50 feet tall, weighs about 1 ton, and is mounted on a radial bearing system to turn with the wind. Most of his large works were sold and placed as part of Florida’s Art in State Buildings program.

 “Not only are Paul’s pieces works of art, they often are engineering masterpieces,” said PMA Executive Director Claire Orologas. “We are excited to work with his estate to bring several of his smaller reliefs here to be displayed on the walls of the Sculpture Garden.”

 Inside the museum will be some of Fullerton’s works on paper, as well as a self-portrait on loan from a collector in Gainesville, Orologas said.

Born in Minnesota and raised in Fort Myers, Fullerton earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Florida in 1967, followed by a master’s degree in painting, printmaking and sculpture from the University of Illinois.

 In 1976, he became an associate professor of sculpture at Wayne State University in Detroit. While there, he developed the molding and casting process that is characteristic of a large body of his work – the cast metal reliefs that have been central to his work over the following years and will be part of PMA’s show.  He returned to Florida two years later and began working exclusively on sculpture and cyanotype prints.  In 1980, after exhibitions in Miami at the Metropolitan Museum and Art Centers and the 24 Collection, he completed the large wall piece, “Cayocosta Rondo,” as a guest of the sculpture department of the University of Miami. That work will be part of PMA’s exhibition.

Fullerton spent the last years of his life living and working in Miami and Micanopy. He died in 2018.

“I was introduced to Paul in June of last year by another artist, and I quickly learned how the community of artists in Florida loved and revered him,” Orologas said. “To hear other artists speak about Paul is inspiring, and we look forward to exhibiting these beautiful works to honor his memory and his talent.”


Richard Haas Exhibition Open at Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College

LAKELAND, FL – Award-winning artist Richard Haas, who is best known for his architectural murals that trick the eye into seeing objects as three-dimensional, began creating actual 3-D art in the 1960s in the form of diorama boxes.

These small-scale explorations of artist studio environments are the subject of “Inside the Masters’ Studios: Richard Haas Dioramas,” which runs through July 27 at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College. This is an original exhibition curated by the museum.

Haas takes inspiration from photos and other research materials to recreate in cardboard and paper the studios of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Johannes Vermeer, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Jackson Pollock.

Each work in the show presents visitors with an individualized viewing experience.

“It’s like peeking into studios of the most well-known artists in history while they create their work,” said Dr. Alex Rich, Polk Museum of Art’s curator and director of galleries and exhibitions.


Polk Museum of Art Announces Citizens Bank & Trust Mayfaire by-the-Lake 2019 Cover Artist

Susan Currier, Spring Joy, Mayfaire by-the-Lake Featured Image 2019

Susan Currier, Spring Joy, Mayfaire by-the-Lake Featured Image 2019

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College has announced the cover artist for Citizens Bank & Trust Mayfaire-by-the-Lake 2019.

Susan Currier’s pencil and charcoal drawing titled, ‘Spring Joy,” will be the featured image for the 48th annual fine art show. Honored to have her work chosen, Currier was nearly speechless when she was asked to have her work represent the Polk Museum of Art and Mayfaire by-the-Lake, she said.

Currier’s art will be featured on Mayfaire T-shirts, posters and other materials used to promote the event that attracts more than 60,000 people to the shores of Lake Morton annually, as well as on the T-shirts for the 40th Annual Lakeland Runners Club Mayfaire 5k Road Race.

“Spring Joy” was inspired by a moment Currier captured here in Central Florida.

“I draw through direct observation in the field and then return to the studio to refine and complete my work,” Currier said. “One afternoon, by chance, I came across a Brahman giving birth. I captured a tender moment between the mother and her calf within their first hour together. The moment was truly special.”

Currier, a Florida artist who studied fine art at Ringling College of Art and Design, received a Merit Award last year for her drawings. After spending nearly a decade as a silver smith making jewelry, Currier redirected her creativity to charcoal on paper.

“Susan Currier is not new to Mayfaire, but last year she surprised us with new work,” Executive Director Claire Orologas said, “To our delight, she has turned to creating wonderful, fresh drawings that depict animals in their pastoral world.”

Citizens Bank & Trust Mayfaire by-the-Lake is presented on Mother’s Day weekend each year by the Polk Museum of Art. This year’s event is May 11-12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free to attend. For more information, visit the event’s website: https://www.mayfairebythelake.org.

Exhibition of Illuminated Manuscripts Comes to the Polk Museum of Art

LAKELAND, FL – In an age of electronic books and computer-generated illustrations, an exhibition opening March 23 will take Polk Museum of Art visitors back in time to when books largely were handwritten and illustrated by members of religious orders.


The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College presents, “Painted Pages: Illuminated Manuscripts from the 13th to 18th Centuries,” which runs through May 25.


The exhibition explores the golden age of handmade books, some of which employed elaborate gold leaf decoration and intricate ornament. It includes examples from medieval European Bibles, prayer books, psalters, books of hours, choir books, missals, breviaries and lectionaries. Examples of the materials used by artists to create these extraordinary pages — gold leaf, parchment, vellum, and minerals ground to create pigments —are also featured in the exhibit.


“Painted Pages is an opportunity to introduce the community to amazing historical artifacts that they may not have seen before,” said Dr. Alex Rich, the museum’s curator and director of galleries and exhibitions.

Most of the works date from the 13th through the 18th centuries and are ink on parchment, which is prepared animal skin. French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Flemish, English, Armenian and German examples are included in addition to non-Western pages such as 17th- and 18th-century leaves from the Shahnameh, which is the Persian illustrated Book of Kings, as well as examples of Hebrew texts.


Nearly all of the manuscript pages entered the collection of the Reading Public Museum through Otto Ege, a well-known bookseller and manuscript specialist, who was born in Reading in 1888. He was a longtime resident of Cleveland, Ohio, where he served as professor of art history and dean of the Cleveland Institute of Art.


Highlights include a lavish Bifolio from a Book of Hours with illuminations by Joachinus de Gigantibus de Rotenberg (German, active 1440s – 1490s), a Perugian Leaf from a Dominican Missal from the late 14th century, a large Bifolio of a Spanish Choir Book from the 15th century, a Hebrew scroll of the Book of Esther from the 18th century, and a leather-bound Italian Gradual containing the chants for the mass penned in the 1720s.



The meaning of “illuminated manuscripts” is somewhat open to interpretation, Rich said. “Illuminated” often describes the glow of the illustrations’ radiant colors, as well as the real gold and silver used in them. The illustrations included decorative letters, borders and figurative scenes.


“The purpose of the manuscripts often was to illuminate the reader, to give them some kind of revelation about the subject of the specific manuscript,” he said.

PMA Receives Wells Fargo Foundation Grant for Youth Printmaking Program

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College is pleased to announce that it has received a $2,500 Wells Fargo Foundation grant to help fund a program designed to increase access among disadvantaged youth to PMA art camps.


This grant enables the Museum to purchase a new printing press that will be used by 195 Polk County students from low- to moderate-income level families who will participate in their 2019 Summer Art Camp sessions.

“We are very grateful to the Wells Fargo Foundation for awarding us this vital grant that will supplement the cost of purchasing a new press,” Education Manager Ellen Chastain said. “We will now be able to teach students from all backgrounds and abilities how to work with a variety of printmaking techniques, including intaglio printing, which we could not offer previously due to not having a functioning press.” 

Increasing PMA’s ability to purchase needed equipment directly impacts access for Polk County students who do not have the means to purchase their own equipment and take these classes, Executive Director Claire Orologas said.

“We are thankful for the Wells Fargo Foundation’s support to provide greater access to printmaking classes for hundreds of youth who face financial barriers,” she said.    

The PMA Art Camps Printmaking Program will be integrated into the 2019 Summer Art Camp curriculum that offered daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for four two-week sessions from June 3-July 26. All classes are led by certified art teachers who provide students with a creative learning environment to explore various printmaking techniques, master fundamental skills, develop unique artistic visions and learn lifelong problem-solving and critical-thinking skills that are transferable to any subject.  

To learn more about the PMA Art Camps Printmaking Program for Disadvantaged Youthand how to apply for financial-need and merit-based scholarships, visit https://polkmuseumofart.org/camps/. For more details or to ask questions, contact Ellen Chastain at 863-688-7743 ext. 227 or echastain@polkmuseumofart.org

Polk Museum of Art Opens SUN + LIGHT Exhibition

ThePolk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College is pleased to present “SUN + LIGHT,” a collection of works by contemporary artist Charles Williams, which opens Feb. 2.

Williams will discuss his exhibition, which explores black history and the treatment of African Americans throughout U.S. history, during a Point of View Gallery Talk at noon on Feb. 8. Admission is free.

“SUN + LIGHT” is a collection of works from Williams’ series titled, “Everyone Loves the Sunshine.” The exhibition juxtaposes Williams’ own personal encounters, past and present, with the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Williams attempts to strike a balance between the movement’s peaceful and violent protests, and of varied expressions of power. He recounts stories told to him by his grandmother about this period in U.S. history and the belief she passed down that would guide his work: “Stay in the light, stay positive.” 

Williams used old black-and-white photographs from the 1920s through 1960s that show people from different backgrounds coming together and uniting behind a common cause, according to a 2017 Charleston City Paper article on the series. Williams told the paper he sought this theme after multiple police brutality incidents were reported in 2016.

"There was one incident that really compelled me ... that led me to create this work,” Williams told the paper. “What I wanted to say with this work is look at how little we've changed. History is like looking at our own reflection. I think when you know where you’ve been and where you’ve come from you can reposition yourself to move forward." 

The concept of “SUN + LIGHT” references qualities of God and divine love, physical warmth and nurturance, and growth for all living beings, Williams said. The work also is inspired by the expressive and abstract paintings of Franz Kline and color theorist Joseph Albers.In applied color theory and explorations into the psychology of color, yellow represents observance, curiosity and cheerfulness.  

With Williams’ prominent use of yellow in this exhibition, he recognizes that we all hope to find our place in the sun, he said. 

Williams is a Georgetown, South Carolina native who holds a bachelor’s degree from Savannah College of Art and Design and a master’s degree in fine art from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

The exhibition runs through May 19. Admission is free.

Polk Museum of Art Offers French Cultural Immersion and La Francophonie in 2019

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College offers the public a three-month French Cultural Immersion program series to coincide with its recently opened “Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist”exhibition on view through March 24. 

The series includes the following Degas-inspired free events:

·      Curator Talk and Tour from 6-8:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 and March 7.

·      Point of View Gallery Talk from noon-1 p.m. on Jan. 11, Feb. 8 and March 8.

·      Docent-Led Tour from 11 a.m. -noon on Jan. 19, Feb. 16 and March 16.

Concurrently, the PMA Education Department offers six-week, French-related art classes for families starting Feb. 4. The After School Art Family Programis offered on Mondays, 4:30-5:30 p.m. It is free for PMA members and $5 for nonmembers. A course titled, “Art Appreciation: 19thCentury French Art and the Birth of Impressionism” is offered on Tuesdays, 6-9 p.m. It is free for PMA members and $60 for nonmembers. 

The culminating La Francophonie Day Celebration on March 23 from noon to 4 p.m. pays tribute to the 300 million French speakers living on five continents. This free half-day program features a Degas Exhibition Curator Talk & Tour; Paris, Montreal and Port-au-Prince landscape painting for children and adults; French dance, music, singing, and poetry performances by Florida Dance Theater, Florida Southern College and Polk State College French students; and the Pearl of Nation Creole dance and singing troupe. Various French specialty cuisine will be available to purchase.     

Many French partnerships have been forged for these events, thanks to museum sponsors and liaisons including the Fishman Family Foundation of New York City, France Florida Foundation for the Arts of Miami, A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure of Bartow, The Mahoney Group of Lakeland, and the Consulate General of Canada. Dignitaries attending the La Francophonie Day Celebration include the consul general of France in Miami, the France Florida Foundation for the Arts president, the consul general of Canada in Miami, the honorary consul of Belgium in Miami, and the honorary French consuls of Orlando and Tampa.       

In addition, Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz has declared March 23 as La Francophonie Day in Lakeland and will award proclamations to the French dignitaries at a 12:15 p.m. ceremony, where Florida Southern President Dr. Ann Kerr and PMA Executive Director Claire Orologas will speak. All Francophiles are encouraged to attend this program.   

 To help support these free La Francophonie activities, the Polk Museum of Art seeks additional sponsors. Interested partners should contact PMA Director of Arts Advancement Suzanne Grossberg at sgrossberg@polkmuseumofart.orgor call 863-688-7743 ext. 298. 

 For more details regarding art classes, contact the PMA Education Manager Ellen Chastain at echastain@polkmuseumofart.orgor call 863-688-7743 ext. 227. To learn more about the Museum’s 2019 French Cultural Immersion program series, visit https://polkmuseumofart.org.

Image via.

Penfield Library Opens to the Public

The Penfield Library, located on the second floor of the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College, will be open to the public on Fridays Jan. 11 through April 26, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The library is an excellent research resource for all members of the community and especially for students from throughout the Polk County School District and area colleges and universities, said PMA Executive Director Claire Orologas. It houses a specialized collection of monographs – books focused on the work of a single artist – and serials on art and art history. 

Florida Southern College librarians began cataloguing the library in late 2017. They processed 2,898 art journal and magazine volumes and issues, as well as 2,754 books and volume sets, said Marina Morgan, the metadata librarian at Florida Southern. 

A number of monographs and the art journal collection are among the most valuable assets, said Alex Rich, PMA’s curator and director of galleries and exhibitions. Rich also is an art history professor and director of Florida Southern’s art history program.

More information on the Penfield Library is available here.