Shining Bright: The Arts Annual 2021 and Florida Botanical Gardens Light Up Pinellas County

Written by Harriet Monzon-Aguirre | December, 2021

Holiday Lights in the Gardens

Pergamo Paper Goods video installation

'Feedback' by Steph Hargrove

December is a month full to the brim with festive activities and events, but how often is it that you get a twofer? The Florida Botanical Gardens is sparkling bright this year with one million lights for their 21st annual Holiday Lights in the Gardens event which continues through to January 2nd. A must see for everyone. But those of you who plan to visit, go within the next 2 days, and you can also enjoy the Arts Annual 2021 at The Gallery at Creative Pinellas. I apologize if this sounds like a sales-pitch but this is a truly valuable experience. My kids and I took the opportunity the night of December 16th, and this is what we learned.

The Arts Annual brings together Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist and Professional Artist grant winners, but does not delineate between the two. In this space, the artists are equals. Where else can you see the coming together of work by the top creative professionals of Pinellas County under one roof? Did you know this incredible exhibition space stood empty for 10 years. As Barbara St Clair, CEO of Creative Pinellas, said at the closing ceremony a week earlier 'It takes the work of the artists to fill the walls.' At the same token, it takes the viewers to receive the messages being delivered and for metaphorical light bulbs to be turned on.

As we walked the gallery space, my older children (6 1/2 and 4 3/4) were immediately drawn to the video screen. They were fixated by the Mermaid Cat by Gianna Pergamo. They admired the paintings, the mixed media, the sculptures, and you could tell they understood the impact of Steph Hargrove's 'Feedback' when I explained that each plate represented 10 hungry children where we live. They immediately wanted to add their own food sticker to the plate on the table.

While observing "Distracted Driving" by Mark Mitchell my son William asked, "Do you wish you could paint like that?"
"Yes, yes I do." I replied.

At the back of my mind I was thinking - I am looking at your future, and it's coming sooner than I might like.

LANDEMIC, installation, Victoria Jorgensen

The final work we viewed was an installation by Linda Costa which appealed to William because they were in his words 'magic.'

For Creative Pinellas, Art Uplifts Humanity. I truly believe it's beneficial for humanity to engage children in creative arts as early as possible. So parents if you're in Pinellas County, check out the lights at the Florida Botanical Gardens and if you're there before December 19th, stop at the Poinsettia Entrance and take a look at the amazing art on display at The Gallery at Creative Pinellas.

'Landemic' by Victoria Jorgansen was the favorite installation for my youngest son Thomas probably because he was greeted by the statue of a dog. Thomas did not seem deterred when the shiny black dog remained still and silent. I leave it to others to interpret the relationship between spectators and objects: Thomas and the dog; me and the painting staring back.

The Gallery at Creative Pinellas is located 12211 Walsingham Rd, Largo, FL 33778.