PJC students venture to St. Petersburg in search of art

Home Features PJC students venture to St. Petersburg in search of art

Moria Dailey

Published: April 26, 2006

I left PJC at an ungodly hour for the second time in the past year on April 7; the first was to leave for Italy, this time it was to leave for St. Petersburg for a twice cancelled honor’s trip.

We left PJC at 3:30 a.m. and headed for St. Petersburg.  We made it there after a long [cold] bus ride and went directly to the Salvador Dali Museum.

If you’ve ever seen Salvador Dali’s work, you understand that the man was an incredible painter.  Seeing his work in “real life”, not reproduced, is a completely different experience.  He did things with paint I never thought possible.

The museum houses the largest collection of Dali’s work in the world; it includes 96 oil paintings, as well as numerous other objects d’art that were collected by Elanore and A. Reynolds Morse.  The works included date from 1917 to 1970, giving the viewer a well rounded view of Dali’s major themes and symbols.

“He [Dali] felt all styles of art belonged in surrealism.  Any style that portrayed a certain feeling or emotion was useful to him,” Adam Cope, a philosophy major at PJC and Dali aficionado who was asked to lecture us on Dali, explained.

Prior to the current museum opening, the Morses had opened a museum near their home in Ohio.  However, they began searching for a permanent home for the collection in the late 1970s, with one stipulation-the entire collection stay together.  After no museums would agree to the stipulation, local leaders of St. Petersburg persuaded the Morses to choose the town by offering to build a new museum to host the collection. 

“I like Dali because he was one of the most recognized surrealists because of his innovative style and his refusal to be pigeonholed into only one school of thought or style.  He’d mix all kinds of styles in his paintings and most surrealists would stick to a single style, a more ‘pure’ surrealism,” Cope said.

After meandering about the Dali Museum, we loaded back onto the bus and headed for our hotel on St. Pete Beach where my compatriots and I spent the evening swimming. 

We left the next morning for Sarasota to visit the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art.

The Ringling Museum, which is recognized as the official State Museum of Art in Florida, is great.  I spent the day wandering around with an ever-changing group of people looking at artwork by people I’d heard about in every history related class I’ve ever taken.

The Ringling Museum was established in 1927 as the legacy of John Ringling, who, along with his brother, became famous for the Ringling Brother’s Circus.  The museum’s the grounds (all 68-acres) house three smaller museums: The Museum of Art, the C… d’Zan (John and Mabel Ringling’s Venetian gothic-style mansion) and the Circus Museum, which houses memorabilia from the time of the Ringling Brother’s Circus.

It also houses a canon.  Yes, a canon-one of those canons that people were shot out of.

The Art Museum was fantastic; we saw tapestries by Peter Paul Rubens, El Greco paintings, as well as replications of famous statuary located in the Museum of Art’s court-yards.

Possibly the most important part of the Museum of Art is the Old Master’s Collection, which holds about 750 paintings, including some from Italian artists that make the Ringling’s collection one of the most impressive in the nation.

And beyond the actual artwork, the architecture of the museums is amazing and art in its own right.

We unfortunately left south Florida the next morning, but the (way too-short) time I was there was really nice.

You could sum up the trip (at least my part of it) in just a few words: awesome, art, pools, and relaxation.