Carli had a couple days off and we took advantage by heading for the hills. Figurative hills, there are no hills in Florida. We left early and aimed for St. Petersburg,a city which proclaims an average of 361 days of sunshine a year. With those odds, we figured spending a half day inside a museum wouldn’t reduce our chances for catching some sun-fun later.
We visited the Dalí Museum. I had always felt a sort of affinity with Dalí, for the only reason that we had similar names: spelling and pronunciation. Whenever questioned about they way I pronounce my name, I would offer other “ali” words that would be pronounced similarly, Salvador Dalí being one of them. (Others would include Bali or Mali).
After visiting the museum, I can confirm that’s where our similarities pretty much end. What an eccentric man, who lived a crazy life!
The museum welcomed photography, so I can post a few, and let you in on a couple stories the docent shared.
First, a personal story: when I was in high school I had a chance to see a Picasso exhibit. I didn’t appreciate it, didn’t understand the art. But, something changed in me when I saw the artists’ work when he was a youth. Specifically, a precise and realistic sketch of a human hand. It was clear to me this person was extremely talented. At that moment, art connected for me, and I gained a true interest in art history.
Moving on here, let’s check out one of Dalí’s early paintings.
The docent described this as an obligatory painting required to graduate from a fine arts school. Known for criticizing his professors as incompetent, I visualize him painting this, and then saying, “Adios realism, I’m outta here!”
He had a couple of clever tricks to inspire his paintings. One was to capture his dreams. His technique was to fall asleep sitting upright, with a spoon or marbles in his hand and a tin plate on the floor. As soon as he was in the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep, the spoon would fall from his hand, bang on the tin plate, waking the artist so he could capture those mercurial visions. Another approach was to generate phosphenes – those floating lights you’d see when you rub your eyes, except he’d use his fists, or he’d get an assist from his wife who would press cotton swabbed “wands” on his eyes. The painting, The Hallucinogenic Toreador, captures the appearance of those phosphene, floating above the bull.
The entire painting is about 10 x 12 feet, I can’t capture all the stories in it, but can you see the toreador? His tie is green, and the red drape on one of the Venus de Milo’s symbolizes the toreadors’ cape. I understand the painting is representative of a famous bull fight where the toreador was gored to death, before the bull was killed.
One more Dalí tidbit. He collaborated with Walt Disney to create a film, Destino. War disrupted funding, and wasn’t pieced together until 2003 by Disney’s nephew. I love the distinctive narrative these men used to describe the film: one was, “A magical display of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time.” And, the other, “A simple story about a young girl in search of true love.” Bet you can tell who said what! You can check out the 6 minute video on YouTube.
Added Museum Benefit: Frida Kahlo Exhibit
From Dalí’s mustache to Frida’s unibrow.
For this portion of the museum, headsets guided us. Frida Kahlo lived a tormented life, tortured with both physical and mental anguish. Most of her compositions are self portraits; long bouts of illness and lonely bed rest led to her person being the subject of her work. But we see animals too, they were often her companions. In this painting, her pooch is giving the viewer a grave stare down:From the museum we marched with the MLK parade off for a late lunch. Mexican food on an outdoor patio. Art permeated our walk – murals surround St. Petes:
And, my personal favorite – Grandma on a skateboard:
We wrapped our visit by spending the next day outdoors – a day on kayaks where we paddled with the manatees. We didn’t see much of the manatees – a nose here, a nose there, oh, and some body part rolling around over there!
Overall, an enjoyable getaway…