Scenes of Transformation

Morean Arts Center, Oct. 2019

My very good friend Lisa Sawlit told me: “Not to bother with the why”, but rather that one should paint first and then ask themselves: “What did I do?”

I entered my first St. Pete Summer with some uncertainty: uncertainty around whether the weather would hold, uncertainty around my new studio situated in a 9x10ft. storage unit, and the lingering pre-summer uncertainty about what the future may hold. I was fairly confident that I would still be able to paint despite the downgrade in space, and that I would be more fruitful in my pleinaire inquiries.

Inquiries indeed: for Scenes of Transformation, I wanted to continue my investigation of St. Pete through personal secluded spaces and open public spaces. I’ve always been extremely interested in the balance between public and private and the power structure inherent in their difference. Most of what can be painted, mapped, explored, or in general seen, belong on public facing walls that encapsulate and hide private spaces. As Saint Petersburg expands, and changes- the walls which enclose the public also shift: from grass to glass and dusty lot to opaque concrete.

Underpinning Saint Petersburg’s slow and methodical transformation are old systems of thinking: more buildings without solar or renewable energy sources, more parking for more cars (and more congestion on the roads), and less parks and green space. Yet still, there is a mighty voice within St. Pete: concerned with plastics and looking to use less, concerned with transportation and biking more, concerned with food wastage and composting. St. Pete residents are a community that experiences great fluctuations in people and rabid property transformation, yet are determined to make space in their own image.