Glass artworks dazzle at Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg

Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times/TNS
·2 min read

ST. PETERSBURG — Aliens. 1,000 Buddhas. Impeccably created geometric shapes. A river, interpreted. All of these glass creations and more await at St. Petersburg’s Imagine Museum.

It’s the United Nations’ International Year of Glass and the museum celebrates with “Florida: In Transformation,” on view through Oct. 30 and showcasing 37 artists’ works reflecting personal narratives or the state’s influence. The exhibition includes local glass stalwarts Duncan McClellan, Chuck Boux and Sam Brewster, to name a few. But it also introduces artists from outside of Tampa Bay doing clever things, like Miami Beach’s Jenna Efrain and her “Catch of the Day,” blown glass fish in a casting net.

The museum’s ever-growing permanent collection includes contemporary glass from some of the best artists around the world. While it’s been at the museum for a few years, you can find something new each time in Anthony James’ marvelous mirrored “Portal Icosahedron,” made of titanium and specialized glass. Look for the special spot where you can see your own eyeball.

The museum showcases artists from the Czech Republic, a place famous for fine art glass. Artists Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova’s collaborative works “T-Head” and “Open Pyramid” are standouts. The blues and greens of “Assembled Geometry” by Vladimira Klumpar dance in the light. Václav Cigler’s “Clear Pyramid” is a feat of perfection, without any faults to be found.

Things get celestial with “Journey of the Imagination.” Martin Janecky’s hot sculpted glass aliens seem to say “greetings, earthling,” while in a section called The Watchers, Bertil Vallien’s series of double-sided larger-than-life cast glass sculptures do feel like ancient guardians.

American artist Martin Blank was commissioned by the museum’s founder, Trish Duggan, to create a site-specific installation that would be reflective of the environment. The result is “If a River Could Tell a Story,” an 8-foot-tall, 13-foot-long sculpture composed of 52 elements. It’s awesome in the truest sense of the word, and creates a sense of motion or current. It’s on view through the end of the year.

Don’t miss Duggan’s installation, “Nirvana (1000 Buddhas),” based on the idea that if a person makes 1,000 Buddhas, it will be easier for them to reach nirvana. Tucked in a darkened gallery upstairs, the dramatically lit exhibit does make you feel like you’ve gone on a spiritual journey. And you can, if you let yourself be swept away by the breadth of work and talent this museum holds.

If you go

Imagine Museum

$10-$15, $5 after 5 p.m. on Thursdays; $7.50 for Tampa Bay residents through the end of summer. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. 1901 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 727-300-1700.