text by JULIE GARISTO
photos by DANIEL VEINTIMILLA
A Gilded Night of Art in St. Petersburg
Bekky Beukes’ show at the Station House St. Pete offers a promising collaboration between artists and venue with more to come.
The Station House St. Pete first served the city as a fire station, established in 1911. Fast-forward more than a century, and the historic building has reincarnated into a 23,000-square-foot business, tech and creative-lifestyle complex. Its centerpiece, a stylish event space provides an attractive backdrop for receptions of all types.
One of Station House’s most recent events gave us a less typical sort of soiree. On Feb. 23, painter Bekky Beukes displayed new works in an exhibition gala titled “Black-White-Gold” with featured artist Deidra Leigh.
Creative Pinellas popped in on the soiree, where attendees arrived, as requested, gussied-up in black, white and gold formal attire.
The chic decor of the Station House provided a complementary backdrop to Beukes’ paintings. Incorporating gold acrylic and oil paint in the titular three colors, the painter created otherworldly half women-half-creature subjects with mysterious glyphs and mythic overtones. Her figures were as powerful as they were heartbroken and triumphant, revealing an all-too-human vulnerability.
In her artist statement, Beukes explains that her recent collection takes on an emotional darkness, inspired by the events of 2017, a year “pregnant with political and social controversy, dramatized by environmental tragedies and personified through our individual delirium.”
She adds: “When we observe chaos objectively, without blame, without resistance, despite broken bones and vengeful shadows, a bloodless and tranquil consciousness emanates. This black, white and gold collection is being created with the intention to observe personal and external chaos, to shatter emotional, physical and technical ‘boundaries’ through the process of execution.”
Providing another striking combo of mood and fantastical elements, Deidra Leigh (aka Relic Imagery) brought a compelling mystique to the night. Her encaustic photography and mixed media displayed a provocative exploration of beauty, vanity, intimacy and sexuality.
Owner Steve Gianfilippo shared that the idea to showcase artists at Station House came up during a conversation with his colleagues about contributing the space to events hosted by nonprofit organizations. “I thought if I could help charities, I could help artists, too,” he said.
Muralist/sculptor James Oleson showed up to lend support. The former Bloom Art Center proprietor will be hosting “Perennial Bloom” an art show featuring Bloom Collective artists.
Beukes expressed gratitude to all who attended “for the abundance of electric energy but also for showing up looking like kings and queens,” she effused.
“Our creative industry is able to thrive and grow because Tampa Bay never fails to show up and throw love, and working with Station House was an absolute pleasure,” she added. “The venue was a perfect fit for this show. Peyton Samardzich (manager) and Emily Prance-Smith (events director) were both so gracious and accommodating throughout the duration of our preparation.”
Adding even more refinement to the night, harpist Rebecca Cosas performed and provided a tranquil, ephemeral soundtrack to the evening. “Her elegant performance was one of my personal highlights of the night,” Beukes said.
In addition to business tenants, The Station House St. Pete also encompasses TeBella Tea Company, Ichicoro Ane, the Mind Body Station yoga studio and a “Co-Working Space,” which provides a hybrid of inviting public spaces to set up your computer or conduct meetings and workshops.
With local artists’ shows in the mix, an exponentially beneficial symbiosis has taken occupancy of a beautiful historic structure.
More of Daniel Veintimilla‘s photos from the night below. Click on thumbnails to enlarge.