While visiting in St. Petersburg Florida this past summer, I popped into a museum downtown called The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art which opened in November of 2017. Being from the Pacific North West I was intrigued to find this museum located in the Sunshine State.
For co-founders of the museum, Tom and Mary James, it all started as a personal passion to purchase western themed art. Over the decades it became their life’s mission to support artists working in the genre and to create a well-rounded collection. Not far from the Dali Museum and the Museum of Fine Art, St. Petersburg, they chose to add to the world class offerings in the city they love.
This brand new building was designed to house the entire collection when the walls of the Raymond James Headquarters became too crowded with their art. People came from around the world to view it there, but nothing tops this new facility to showcase the collection now. I love the architecture too and feel it’s as much a work of art. The stunning stone atrium is designed to resemble a slot canyon. On the second floor there are several angular balconies and a bridge. Each location allows for ever-changing views of magnificent bronze sculptures framed in alcoves. As you make your way around from room to room you gain new perspectives, as if you were on the ridge of a canyon.
There are several rooms, each with it’s own theme. I really enjoyed the contemporary art by Native Americans, the jewelry collection and the modern art. There is also an event space for performances and music as well as a restaurant. Don’t miss it if you’re in town!
The decade ends with many lists - best breweries, worst fashion trends, 10 colors for your living room, etc. It’s interesting to catalog our memories and impressions. Work in my medium, polymer clay, continues to evolve as artists adapt and discover new ways to use it. Here are three trends of the last few years that I’ve observed.
1. Taking advantage of the resilience and lightweight nature of the material, jewelry has become more three dimensional and dramatic, like this imaginative organic brooch by Shelley Atwood. My monarch series fits right in.
2. Artists have moved beyond bowls, are intrigued by constructed boxes and vessels, evolving from wearable art to functional objects. The purple one is one of my recent creations and the black and white one is the work of fellow Portland artist Lea Gordinier.
Perhaps the most striking polymer clay trend is the increasing use of clay as a fine art medium to create wall art or abstract sculpture, often combining clay and other materials. I am astounded by the intricacy of Donna Greenberg’s new pieces, which she says are “inspired by the fantastic forms and colors of curious beauty that abounds in the natural world.”
As we enter 2020, however, it’s more interesting to leave the past behind and set intentions for next decade. Artists have all sorts of strategies to keep their work fresh and amusing - making earrings every day for a month, finding a word of intention to hone focus, or working with a three-color palette. Here’s the real question: “What will I do differently this year?”
Here are my artistic resolutions for the next decade:
1. Observe more astutely by drawing more.
2. Incorporate more natural forms and motifs into my work. Being a pattern addict, I’m intrigued by the idea of nautilus shells, featured in this cane I just made.
3. Create for the sheer joy of it - no branding, no marketing! For example, I love making these little pods and I’ve never sold a single one. More pods in 2020!
4. Revisit classes I’ve taken and be inspired again. Also I’m mostly self-taught, I have had the opportunity to take classes with some awesome artists. Sometimes a bit of knowledge shifts into my work, but there’s so much more to digest in those class notes and photos.
That ought to keep me busy, relaxed and happy. Here’s to a new decade!