Imagine Museum

Reading this week:

  • The Sculptors of Mapungubwe by Zakes Mda

The first joke in today’s post is that you don’t have to imagine this museum, it actually exists! That’s right over the holiday break my super amazing fiancée (!!!!!) (for anyone keeping close track she wasn’t actually my fiancée at the time but between then and me writing this she has become my fiancée! Though I gotta marry her soon because getting the accent on the e here is very annoying) and I took my mom to the Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was my super amazing fiancée’s idea; she spotted their ad in the airport.

A note before we begin. The above piece of artwork is part of a series titled “Flight and Illusion” by Trish Duggan. I liked it a lot. Ms. Duggan’s work is featured fairly prominently, which seems appropriate because she founded the museum. I spoke at length in my last post about how the thing to do if you are unimaginably wealthy is to found an art museum (or two), so some extreme kudos to the then-plural Duggans here. I also made a point in the last post of not looking up what exactly those founders did for a living. But about 3/4 of our way through the museum, when it became evident that Trish Duggan’s name was popping up a lot my super amazing fiancée did some light googling and discovered that the Duggans were some of the biggest donors to Scientology (an organization Mr. Duggan credits for his riches) and since their divorce Ms. Duggan has also become a major Trump donor. So, you know, do with that information what you will!

If what you do with that information however is go to the Imagine Museum, you will be rewarded! Admission is $15 for adults (they gave me a veteran discount), so I don’t know how you feel about putting your money towards this organization but the art is phenomenal! We were all legitimately blown away and my mom especially was just absolutely floored with what these artists were doing with glass. A major item we learned was how young the Studio Glass movement was. We simply hadn’t realized because glass is something has been around for quite a long time, as the lovely display at the museum on the history of glass will let you know. But it was only in the early 1960s that Harvey Littleton invented a small furnace for individual artists. That made the art in the Imagine Museum much more contemporary than I was expecting, and it felt cool to be in the midst of a whole bunch of art that was both of a certain genre but clearly still very early in the experimentation stage of what art with glass could be!

Bijin, Karen Lamonte, 2011

Another fun thing the museum was doing that day was having a scavenger hunt. Like I said mom was floored by this museum and I thought it was extremely cute how much she got into the scavenger hunt they had going on. You were supposed to find these little glass cupcakes hidden around the art which did indeed go far in ensuring that we carefully inspected each and every one. The prize at the end was like a 5% discount in the gift shop which we did put to use. On our careful inspection however the first mind-blowing pieces were a whole series similar to the above by Karen Lamonte, who has developed a technique to carefully cast glass so that it models a fabric outfit worn by a woman with all the intricate details of the folds and even the pattern of the fabric. Extremely impressive stuff. There was another part of the series where the same outfit was cast in a variety of materials, including glass, iron, and bronze, and that was really cool.

Matrix Series: Cubism VI Double Core/Meander Construct…D, Brent Kee Young, 2017

I also really enjoyed seeing the above pieces, which are intricately sculpted from borosilicate glass which I guess is a type of glass which lets you do that. Those sphere in the middle are only suspended by a few points and man like, how do you transport this stuff? “Carefully” is probably the answer. I liked how all the different layers interlocked and were different but exposed something of each other. Surrounded by all the other intricate, creative, mesmerizing glass pieces I am honestly at a loss for words. It was all really great! But perhaps the single largest and most intriguing piece was the one pictured at the top, which use what I assume are a series of one-way mirrors to allow you to walk all around the icosahedron and look in every single way, conjuring up the wormhole from Interstellar in the way looking in seems to open up a portal to some other fantastical place. And my super amazing fiancée and I were vindicated in our taste when we finally got around to seeing Glass Onion and discovered the set designers also thought it was really cool.

Portal Icosahedron, Anthony James, 2018

But yeah that was the Imagine Museum. Never meet your heroes and never google your art museum founders, but the sheer breadth of different and phenomenal types of glass art on display will take your breath away if you have any sense in you at all. I can tell you for sure it has a ringing endorsement from my mom, who also was deeply entertained by the scavenger hunt. A wonderful afternoon in St. Petersburg!