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Christopher Still: Coming Home
October 11, 2008 - January 25, 2009
This retrospective exhibition brings one of Florida's preeminent painters back to his roots. A Tampa Bay native, Christopher Still gained formal training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and has studied and traveled throughout Europe. Since his return to Florida, Still has established a remarkable career interweaving his academic training with themes featuring Florida culture and history. Featuring over thirty years of work, the exhibition includes fine examples of Still's richly symbolic still life, landscape and history paintings as well as fascinating studies from such important mural projects as those he completed for the Chambers of the Florida House of Representatives in Tallahassee, the Tampa International Airport, and the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater. (rght: Christopher Still, Land of Promise)
Born in 1961, Still spent much of his childhood in Dunedin, Florida, not far from where he now resides in Tarpon Springs. His artistic career began both early and auspiciously. Already drawing at any opportunity as soon as he could hold a pencil, Still began his formal art training at the age of seven, taking classes at what was then known as the Gulf Coast Art Center in Belleair, now the Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo. He soon enrolled in adult classes and by the age of fourteen, he had sold his first painting. This long connection between Still and the Gulf Coast Museum of Art adds significance to the exhibition's title, Coming Home.
Still's early talent attracted opportunity. He won awards from the Gulf Coast Art Center, the Dunedin Fine Arts Center, and the Miniature Arts Society of Florida that enabled him to continue with instruction throughout his childhood and teens. In 1979 he won a National Scholastic scholarship for entrance and tuition to the Pennsylvania Academy in Philadelphia. Still trained at this prestigious academy for four years, and was distinguished by several awards for composition, zoological drawing, and landscape painting. In 1984, he won the Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in the Fine Arts. Still also traveled to Europe to study, work and travel. There he was exposed to and influenced by the traditions and techniques of old masters and Impressionist painters.
In 1986 he returned to Florida. That same year the Tampa Museum of Art staged a one-man exhibition of his work. With this prestigious endorsement, the ongoing support of long-time patrons, and academic training behind him, Still hoped to build his growing reputation by applying his formal techniques to representations of his native Florida.
Today, Still is best known for his fascinating and artful representations of Florida life, history and culture. His works are carefully researched and meticulously produced, and feature the technical and compositional influences of his formal training and European studies blended with a modern approach. To achieve the accuracy and detail he requires for his work, Still has traipsed into the Florida wilderness to paint live alligators and other wildlife, used a specialized painting box to paint color studies underwater, interviewed scholars and descendants of historical figures, and researched countless aspects of Florida history, from the sponging industry, pioneer life and the Seminole Wars to the Space Shuttle program. (left: Christopher Still, The Passing of One Day)
His work is currently held in several public and private collections throughout the country, including The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, and the Florida's Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee.
Please click here to view a WEDU interview with Christopher Still.
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