On a Clear Day: Theo Wujcik Paintings

April 5 – May 3, 2013
Tempus Projects, Tampa, FL

An exhibition of Theo Wujcik’s paintings whom is a professor emeritus of University of South Florida where he taught from 1972 to 2003.

April 5 – May 3, 2013
Tempus Projects, Tampa, FL

Theo Wujcik is a professor emeritus of University of South Florida where he taught from 1972 to 2003. Wujcik’s works have been included in exhibitions and in the permanent collections of America’s premier art institutions such as New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art; Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; and Yale University Art Gallery, Connecticut.


Internationally, exhibitions featuring Wujcik’s work were organized by the New World Museum in San Francisco through the United Nations World Environment Programme: Melting Ice: A Hot Topic, Envisioning Change, premiered at the Nobel Peace Center, Oslo, Norway; traveled to the Bozar Center for Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium; the Ministry of Culture in Monaco and closing at the Field House Museum in Chicago.

Wujcik is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, University of South Florida Research and Creative Scholarship Grant, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Individual Artist Fellowship, Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Fund for Mural Painting and a Fellowship Award from the National Academy of Design, New York.

Wujcik was a master lithographic printer for Tamarind and Gemini G.E.L. print studios, both in Los Angeles, California and the Detroit Lithography Workshop, Michigan and a shop manager for the University of South Florida’s Graphicstudio. He has worked with internationally renowned artists such as Robert Morris, James Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, Richard Anuszkiewicz and Nicholas Krushenick. Wujcik’s own prints have been published by Brooke Alexander Gallery in New York, Tamarind Lithography Workshop in California, Pyramid Arts and Graphicstudio.


5132 N. Florida Ave. Tampa, FL 33603

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Object Image / Erik Levine / Sculpture and Video

Now – September 23, 2012
This exhibition includes two recent video works, cocker (2010) and post time (2012) that explore his interest in the masculine figures. Levine is less concerned with the actual fight than with the rituals in which these men partake during fight preparation.

Now – September 23, 2012
Tampa Museum of Art

Erik Levine
New York-based sculptor Erik Levine rose to prominence, in part, because of his use of humble plywood in massive installations. In 2011, the Museum acquired one of his large-scale sculptures for its permanent collection. The ironically titled Hand-Held (1997) is made of Levine’s trademark material and measures an imposing 14 feet in length. This exhibition marks the debut of this new acquisition.

Levine began working with plywood as his material of choice and had an on- again, off-again relationship with it until 2001. He was intrigued by the contradictions and connotations of plywood. His sculptures seem to ask the question, “Can an everyday material — a common DIY staple – be the basis for a work of art? He seems to ask us to consider how we define art and how we define a utilitarian object. (A similar question is asked in our current antiquities exhibition, Utility and Aesthetics).

In his sculptural works, Levine is entranced by the question of scale. His room-sized installations demand the viewer to take notice and experience the work in its totality. The roughness of the finish is intentional. Nothing is polished or buffed.

In 2002, Levine went in search of a new medium and discovered video. This interest was piqued when he took his camera to a local park and witnessed a father yelling at his sons at a baseball game. The scene brought back Levine’s own childhood memories, and he began exploring the power of video to mine his emotions about fatherhood, masculinity, loneliness, and power. He has spent the last decade exploring the complexity of masculinity and its place in contemporary society.

Erik Levine
This exhibition includes two recent video works, cocker (2010) and post time (2012) that explore his interest in the masculine figures. In cocker, the preparation that leads to the cockfight is examined in vivid and revealing detail. Levine is less concerned with the actual fight than with the rituals in which these men partake during fight preparation.

In post time (2012), the artist turns his attention to the lonely world of horse race betting. This is the not the glamorous world of the Kentucky Derby. It is, however, the artist’s unflinching eye fixed upon the exclusive male enclave of the forbidden and forgotten racetrack. The viewer gets no cinematic joy from the work, as the main spectacle—the actual horse race—never occurs on screen. What we are asked to consider is the psyche of the men who spend their days at the track.

Levine’s work was included in the 1989 Whitney Biennial and in shows at LA MOCA, the High Museum of Art and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. His work is in such collections as the Whitney Museum of American Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gallery, The Walker Art Center, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo.

Sarasota has an art history, how about a future?

The likes of Sawyer, Farnsworth, Hartman and Solomon put Sarasota on the art world map, and both art makers and art lovers have been colonizing here ever since. The Sarasota County Arts Council has reported a data base of 3,000 people who define themselves as artists and live and work in Sarasota today.

by Joan Altabe

In the beginning… Soldiers returning from WWII came to town to make art their life. One of those soldiers was Syd Solomon, whose legs were frostbitten during the Battle of the Bulge. He was told to live in a warm climate and came to Sarasota on the first day of 1946. Solomon stayed on into old age to become an internationally recognized painter known for his abstract renditions of the area’s light and land. “When I landed in Sarasota, it was the high point of my life,” he told me in an interview in 1988.

Solomon knew at once that the town was for him because its art scene was already active and well-known. And throughout the years, artists have been drawn to Sarasota for its natural beauty and for the attention paid to art making.

Syd Solomon Dabbert Gallery
"Joust" by Syd Solomon 1951– Gouache (Dabbert Gallery, Sarasota)

You might say our art history began in 1931, when art lover John Ringling, whose circus wintered in Sarasota, founded his museum, along with the School of Fine and Applied Arts of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art – known today as the Ringling School of Art and Design. Staffed by 15 faculty members, the school attracted landscape and marine painters from the North.

But even before Ringling’s school began to draw World War II veterans intent on studying art under the G.I. Bill of Rights, the Farnsworth School of Art opened in Sarasota in 1941, attracting students from the United States and Canada and from as far away as the Dutch East Indies.

The Farnsworth School was founded by the husband and wife team of Helen Sawyer and Jerry Farnsworth, two New York City artists with established reputations.

Helen Sawyer Dabbert Gallery
"Soriee" by Helen Sawyer – Oil on Board (Dabbert Gallery, Sarasota)

Sawyer’s New York exhibit credits included the Whitney Museum of American Art, which acquired her work. Many of her paintings have been reprinted for greeting cards by the American Artists Group. Farnsworth’s work also is in the collections of the Whitney, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His portrait paintings – 23 of which were reprinted for Fortune Magazine and 10 for Time Magazine – included likenesses of three presidents: Truman, Roosevelt and Harding.

The couple opened their school in a leaky, made-over cleaning and pressing shop, later they moved it over a garage and then into the original post office in the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport. Students flocked to the school, and over the next 30 years, more than 5,000 came – ultimately to a location on Higel Avenue on Siesta Key. By 1970, classes had to be limited to about 35 students with tuition costs beginning at $60 for a two-week period.

Farnsworth students were so serious about their work, Sawyer told the Herald-Tribune in 1970, “If anyone would ever hum or whistle while they worked, they would be hissed.” Many of these students liked Sarasota so much, they made it their home, and in the process, made the town’s reputation as an art center.

Jerry Farnsworth Dabbert Gallery
"Pony Tail" by Jerry Farnsworth – Oil on Canvas (Dabbert Gallery, Sarasota)

One of these was the late William Hartman, the first artist in his home state of Michigan hired under the Federal WPA Program of the Arts. He came to Sarasota in 1946 to study art under the G.I. Bill at the Farnsworth School, the Ringling School and the Hilton Leech Studio, begun by noted landscape watercolorist and teacher for which the school was named.

Leech, a nationally known artist and long-time member of the celebrated American Watercolor Society, came to Sarasota in 1931 and helped organize Ringling’s school. His own school thrives to this day as Friends of the Arts and Sciences.

“Many good artists were already in Sarasota, then,” Hartman told the Herald-Tribune in 1986. He met his future wife, Martha, when both were art students at the Ringling School; they opened their own gallery and school in Sarasota in 1952.

Hilton Leech Dabbert Gallery
"Hidden Lake" by Hilton Leech– Watercolor & Mixed Media (Lee Corbino Galleries, Sarasota)

The couple was so popular that a Herald-Tribune article in the `50s commented: “If there were an election to select royalty in the Sarasota art field, it is safe to say that most people would vote for Sawyer-Farnsworth.”

Speaking about why they chose Sarasota in which to live and work, Sawyer has said, because, “Here we find congenial friends, indoor activities in the fields of music, art, theater; outdoor activities; sailing, fishing, swimming. And such a variety of subject-matter for painting! The swamps and forests of the back country for landscapes and the shores and waters of the Gulf; tropical fruits, flowers, vegetables and sea things, as well as fisher-folk and circus folk. So here we find the spice and substance of the good life.”

The good life in Sarasota inspired paintings that earned Sawyer raves from noted critics. Ernest W. Watson, early editor of American Artist magazine, wrote of Sawyer’s depictions of Siesta Key beaches in 1949: “Always she paints to express a mood rather than to record a particular scene – the threat and fury of seas and sky rather than a particular place in time of storm.” Elizabeth Luther Cary, writing for The New York Times at the time, compared Sawyer’s thunderclouds to Francisco Goya’s and found the 19th-century Spanish master’s wanting. Lauding Sawyer’s skies, she said, “We may think of Goya’s carnival scenes under stormy skies, but I cannot recall any by Goya in which the battle of the two extremes plays such a passionate part.”

Always, though, the good life for Sawyer included teaching, she said. “Teaching never became hum-drum. I fed my students my eyes, my heart. They all swallowed them whole and did the most marvelous things.”
Inspiration for local artists also came from the presence of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which wintered in Sarasota.

Ringling Poster
Circus Poster

“One of the great things we used to do was put on a circus art show. Only circus subjects. It was great,” said Solomon, who studied with the Farnsworths, in a newspaper article. “Jurors invariably included someone from the circus – one of the great performers or one of the great entrepreneurs like Buddy North. It was a very important theme show, and perfectly natural for Sarasota.”

The likes of Sawyer, Farnsworth, Hartman and Solomon put Sarasota on the art world map, and both art makers and art lovers have been colonizing here ever since. The Sarasota County Arts Council has reported a data base of 3,000 people who define themselves as artists and live and work in Sarasota today.

Yet, something is missing. We boast the birth of an arts community. The question is, have we grown? With all the boutique-y galleries, tourist art and match-the-slipcover decorator stuff, not to mention Sarasota signal monument on our bay front – the monstrous “Unconditional Surrender” – it feels as if fine art has moved to another town.

Joan Altabe

Former visual arts critic for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Bradenton Herald, former New York City art teacher and longtime award-winning art and architecture critic for U.S. and overseas publications, is referenced in “Who’s Who in American Art” and “Who’s Who of American Women” and currently writes as the St. Petersburg art Examiner and National art Examiner. Altabe has written several books including “Art Behind the Scenes” (100 painters in and out of their studio) and “Sculpture off the Pedestal” (25 sculptors in and out of their studio). Both available at Amazon.com.