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Show explores the possibilities, variety of art


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2001

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH -- Many times, art consists of paint applied to canvas and paper.

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH -- Many times, art consists of paint applied to canvas and paper.

In the first Tampa Bay Surface Design Guild show at the Beach Art Center, the 90 artworks from 24 artists are fashioned of fabrics, fibers, metals and other materials.

The instruments of choice are needle and thread, sewing machines, dye vats and an occasional hammer.

"When you're an artist, weird things pop into your mind at weird times," said Mei-Ling St. Leger, of Clearwater, guild president and one of four co-founders. "Having a show like this, which we hope to do annually, will educate the public on the possibilities and varieties of art."

A whimsical Granny Gray made of felt and merino sheep's wool took the show's grand prize from. Kathy Hays, of Seminole, said her three-dimensional piece resembles the face of a gray-haired grandmother. Hays also won first place in the three-dimensional category for her Mushroom Fairy.

The artworks -- each artist could enter as many as five -- were shoehorned into two categories: three-dimensional and two-dimensional. They ranged from jewelry to clothing to a large piece adorned with floppy discs.

"Surface design can be flat with a relief of some type, which is usually considered two-dimensional or can stick out, which is three-dimensional" said St. Leger, 59, who won fifth-place for her three-dimensional silk cape called Faux Feathers. She described it as "a recreation of Montezuma's cape sent to the king of Spain." Margaret Carr, 76, of Clearwater, won an honorable mention in the three-dimensional category for a vintage pierced linen and lace jacket.

"Margaret is such a sweet lady," St. Leger said Monday. "She was here for two days helping us set up the show."

The Tampa Bay Surface Guild, part of a national organization, got its start in 1997, when seven people, including St. Leger, met to experiment with various surface design techniques. The first formal meeting was in September 1998.

There are about 70 members. The guild now meets from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the second Monday of the month at the Countryside Branch of the Clearwater Public Library, 2741 State Road 580. Dues are $25 a year. Prospective members can contact Becky Deady at (813) 681-4169 or by e-mail:

If you go

The Tampa Bay Surface Design Guild Show is open 9 a.m.-noon weekdays at the Beach Art Center, 1515 Bay Palm Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach. Free tours and demonstrations are available at 1-4 p.m. Sunday; 6-8 p.m. Sept. 21; 1-4 p.m. Sept. 23 and 6-8 p.m. Sept. 28, along with an auction for East Indian textile artists whose workshops suffered earthquake damage last year. Preview 6-7 p.m.; auction, 7:15-7:45 p.m. (727) 791-4109.

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