Monday, January 11, 2016

Museum of Fine Arts- St.Petersburg, Fl.

Our impetus for seeing this museum was an article in the paper concerning a current exhibit.  One of the greatest living practitioners of sand mandalas, a Buddhist monk Losang Samten, is at the museum until Jan.16.  Samten once served as the Dalai Lama's personal attendant.
We found him working on a sand mandala in the lobby of the museum.  The picture above shows how he delicately lays down grains of colored sand with two tapered tubes.  The bottom one contains sand, the one above it vibrates the lower one as it slowly drops down sand onto the picture.
You may notice lines outside of the picture above.  That is what Samten has to fill in by Jan. 16 when the picture will be destroyed.  There is information available regarding this sand mandala, which is best explained by quoting from that material.  Mandalas are "healing for an individual's body, speech, mind, environment". "They are used to enhance the spiritual practice environment through image and meditation to overcome suffering."   In the center of the above picture is a Medicine Buddha, and  there is a blue light of healing radiating from him in all directions.  The creation of the mandala, as well as its design, is a ritualistic process.  While the Buddhist monk works there is soft Tibetan flute music playing and if there is any speaking at all it is done in whispers.  There are chairs for people to sit, watch and meditate as long as they wished to do so, but John and I moved on to check out other exhibits of the museum.
After such a serious note, it almost seems wrong to post the above picture.  Another current exhibit of the museum is titled Marks Made: Prints by American Women from the 1960s to the Present".  It is a celebration of the printmaking medium and the many women who have contributed to its development.  In this exhibit I learned about the Guerrilla Girls, an organization which tries to get the word out that "less than 5% of artists in modern art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are females".  That latter fact has especially bothered me when I have toured art galleries!
Another very interesting but sobering current exhibit is titled "I Remember Birmingham".  Seven glass blocks and prints done by John Scott are a memorial to the race-related bombing of a Baptist church in 1963 when 4 African American girls attending Sunday school were killed.  On the glass block above is written the words: "I am closed out of my dreams by someone who didn't know me- why?"
Another interesting current exhibit is by Carrie Schneider on "Reading Women".  She did a 4 hour video on women reading women's books, of course we only took a few minutes to watch that!  We probably should have dedicated a whole day to St. Petersburg's art museum because we certainly did not see it all in the 4 hours we were there!  As we have learned in touring art museums all over the nation, we never know what we will see in those museums.  Most often, as we discovered at the St. Petersburg art museum, it was a most pleasant and enjoyable surprise!  We felt that we had learned and seen so much regarding different forms of art.

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