Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Art? If you say so

It's true. Art is in the eye of the beholder. Today, my eye did not see too much beholding, although I appreciated the opportunity to view "masterpieces" firsthand.

We decided to spend the day in Tampa/St. Petersburg, less than two hours from where we are staying. Jim acted as our researcher on what to do (an appropriate role, I think, for a former travel agent). His agenda consisted on three items: the Dali Gallery, the St. Petersburg pier, and Ybor City in Tampa.

I'll be honest: I was familiar with the name Salvador Dali, and I probably had seen pictures of some of his work at some time in my life, but I really did not know what to expect. The gallery contains more than 2,000 pieces of his work, most donated by one family, who was friends of Dali and knew him well.

The gallery documents Dali's artistic progress--if you could call it that. Dali, who was born into a highly dysfunctional family (he was a replacement son, also called Salvador, who died at a very early age), started painting when he was a boy. To me, his work as a teenager was his best. His was influenced by the impressionists and the cubists. Then something happened...he started to create what he called "anti-art."

And anti-art it was. He was a member of the surrealism movement. Surrealism is hardly adequate to describe the weirdness he created, mostly as a painter, but also as a sculptor.

Now, I will give you this: He was very gifted. The details on his paintings were very precise. He also was able to paint illusions. In one painting, a very large one, his wife (a frequent model) was standing in front of a window nude. But when the picture is viewed at 20 meters, a picture of Abraham Lincoln can be seen (if you look carefully).

We were not allowed to take pictures in the gallery. The one I have posted is from Wikipedia. The gallery, however, is a tribute to Dali.
The museum has glass walls. Every pane is unique. This is looking out toward Tampa Bay.

Spirals were important to Dali. The staircase in the museum is a spiral.

I know Dali's paintings are worth a lot of money, but if I were given one, I would sell it for the cash.

Like I said, art is in the eye of the beholder.

We spent several hours at the gallery, first with a docent, then walking around with an audio guide. After finishing our tour of Dali's works, we headed to the unique pier in St. Petersburg.

The pier is unique because it is built like an inverted pyramid. We intended to browse, but it was about a half-mile walk from the parking lot, and by this time, my feet were aching! I saw the uniqueness of the edifice, however, and that was what Jim wanted to share with me.

Our last stop was Ybor City, an old area of Tampa settled by Cuban immigrants who brought their cigar-making skills with them.

The main drag is Seventh Street, where many hand-rolled cigars are still made. I think the street probably comes alive after dark, since it had many, many night clubs as well as restaurants.

By the time we got to Ybor City, it was too late to visit the state-run museum. We had not eaten all day, so after a walk down Seventh Street, we found a Cuban restaurant. Or, we thought it was supposed to be a Cuban restaurant.

We made a bad choice. We really like Cuban food. We ordered the day's special, picadillo, which we have eaten many times, in many different Cuban restaurants, both in Jacksonville and in West Palm Beach.

What we got was terrible. It was like spaghetti sauce on rice. Terrible. The only thing we could taste was the tomato sauce, which tasted like it came out of a can. The name of this restaurant we will never return to? Gaspar's Grotto.

To make up for the disappointment, on the way home, we went out of way to go back to Webb's Citrus Candy Shop, where we had stopped last night on the way back from yesterday's adventures. Yesterday we bought some candy. Tonight we treated ourselves to some very, very fine ice cream. Yum!

It was a long day; tomorrow will be even longer. I'll tell you about it in another blog.

Until later,
Your Reluctant RoVer,
Seventh St. in Ybor City.

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