Celebrating Tarpon Springs Artist Christopher Still

City of Tarpon Springs Celebrates and Honors
Visual Artist Christopher M. Still

Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum
Details here

On February 20, 2024, Tarpon Arts, the cultural division of the City of Tarpon Springs, unveiled the exhibition The Great State of Florida, Paintings by Christopher Still, at the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum.

This permanent installation explores the extraordinary work of acclaimed visual artist Christopher M. Still – which according to the City’s press release “promises to be a mesmerizing journey through Still’s masterful depictions of history, culture and the vibrant spirit of the State of Florida.”

Christopher Still is a favorite son artist of Tarpon Springs, a community which proudly nurtures a reputation as a “city of the arts” through its creative environment and arts legacy, which dates to the 1890s when artists first sought out the natural beauty of the area.

He is also claimed in Dunedin, where he was raised, taught classes at the Dunedin Fine Art Center, and where his brother Todd is the Vice President for Programming at that institution.

In Tallahassee Still is recognized as Artist in Residence of the Florida Legislature for the ten mural-size paintings he was commissioned to paint between 2000 and 2002 for the House of Representatives.

Many accolades have been awarded to Christopher Still and in 2010, at age 49, he was the youngest artist inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Today his paintings, which celebrate Florida’s natural and historic heritage, make him one of the most respected artists living in Florida.

Christopher Still, To Have and Have Not, 2000. Oil on linen, 10 ft. 6 in. x 4 ft. One of ten commissioned paintings for the Florida House of Representatives (Full-scale giclee reproduction courtesy of the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum)

Included in To Have and Have Not, one of ten large-scale works at the Florida House of Representatives, are many historical references including the Overseas Railway in the Keys, the orange industry, sponge diving in Tarpon Springs, cigar production in Ybor City (Tampa) and other events in Florida history.

Still often uses Tarpon Springs residents as models in his works. The young boy is Lyle Hoffman, son of architect Edward C. Hoffman, Jr. and Barbara Hoffman. The building that houses the The Great State of Florida exhibition was originally designed by Hoffman as a wing to the Tarpon Springs Public Library but now repurposed as the Heritage Museum.

The art of Christopher Still is more than “paint” on canvas. Each piece is painstakingly conceived through an analytical process of historical research, detailing and remarkable technical skill honed over years of dedication to his aesthetic.

Still’s training as a visual artist began young, nurtured by attending art classes at the Dunedin Fine Art Center, Gulf Coast Art Center (Belleair), and influenced by an impressive list of art mentors along the way.

Christopher Still, Sunrise Through the Pines, 2010. Oil on panel, 12 x 18 in. (An original painting donated to the Friends of Christopher Still by Roberta Bary and Family and loaned to the City of Tarpon Springs)

His talent led him to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the oldest and one of the most respected art schools in the United States. In Philadelphia opportunities abounded, from observing the great masters of American art in the City’s stellar museums, including Charles Wilson Peale, painter, inventor, naturalist and founder of the Pennsylvania Academy in 1801, and Trompe l’oeil (realistic optical illusion) painters William Harnett and John F. Peto.

Still also studied human anatomy at the Jefferson Medical School, applied for awards and recognition, including the prestigious Cresson Traveling Fellowship which allowed art travel in Europe and a unique apprenticeship to study traditional “old masters” techniques in Florence, Italy.

Returning to Florida in 1985, Christopher Still applied his academic training to probe the natural beauty of flora and fauna in Florida with his unsatiable interest in themes of culture and history.

In these paintings, Still’s attention to detail is studied for historical accuracy and with a naturalist point of view. His landscapes, still lifes, portraits, history paintings and narrative storytelling are interwoven with symbolism and pictorial verity.

Most of his commissioned art works are complemented with program guides that document his research and historical perspective – providing both an artistic and educational experience.

The large-scale public art commissions of Christopher Still include the Florida House of Representatives (Tallahassee), Tampa International Airport, Ruth Eckerd Hall (Clearwater), Sandpearl and Opal Sands Resorts (Clearwater Beach), Belleview Inn (Belleair), and most recently at AdventHealth North Pinellas (Tarpon Springs).

Christopher Still, Beneath the Waves, 2007. Oil on linen, 7 ft. x 14 ft. Commissioned by JMC Communities for the Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater (Full-scale giclee reproduction courtesy of the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum)

On view in The Great State of Florida exhibition there is also an underwater painting box that Christopher Still developed to work on maritime studies for finished paintings.

This fascinating invention allows Still, submerged in the water, to paint in a watertight container to attain visual accuracy.

Over the past 40 years, the paintings of Christopher Still have entered numerous public and private collections, including the Smithsonian Institution (Washington DC), State of Florida Collection (The Capitol, Tallahassee), Florida’s Governor’s Mansion (Tallahassee), Appleton Museum of Art (Ocala), John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota), and locally the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art (Tarpon Springs) and Tarpon Springs Public Library.

Still has had numerous exhibitions including a major 2008 exhibit, Coming Home Retrospective, at the Gulf Coast Museum of Art (after closing, it became the home of Creative Pinellas in Largo).

He is known for open studio events through which he has cultivated a dedicated group of collectors who have commissioned or purchased works. The loyalty of these collectors has contributed to the development of the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum’s exhibition through the donation of original works of art to the Friends of Christopher Still nonprofit, which loaned them to the City of Tarpon Springs for The Great State of Florida exhibition.

Prior to this exhibition, Tarpon Arts Cultural & Civic Services Director Diane Wood stated, “the Heritage Museum has exhibited beautiful reproductions of Christopher Still’s paintings in our Ecology Wing for many years and now to become stewards of nine original masterpieces that our residents and visitors can enjoy really solidified Tarpon Springs as a prominent cultural and arts destination.”

Christopher Still, Florida Harvest, 1993. Oil on linen, 40 in. x 30 in. (An original painting donated to the Friends of Christopher Still by Elizabeth and Michael Coachman and loaned to the City of Tarpon Springs)

Florida Harvest is the earliest painting in The Great State of Florida exhibition and is an example of Still’s interest in Florida’s flora, fauna and history – in what he calls “story paintings.” Representing Florida’s bountiful harvest, it references specific sites associated with the citrus industry in Pinellas County.

Roberta Bary, a New York City and Clearwater Beach resident, is one of Christopher Still’s major collectors.  She has amassed her collection over the past 25 years and donated six paintings to the exhibition. Several of the works reflect her love of nature and Florida’s Gulf Coast, subjects shared by Still.

The Great State of Florida, Paintings by Christopher Still is an impressive permanent exhibition that honors the career of Christopher Still. The exhibition evolved using consultants to work with Still and Tarpon Arts to create a state-of-the-art installation.

Visitors will be captivated on several artistic, sensory and educational levels. The exhibition engages from the professional reproductions of some of Still’s best-known works (including the Florida House of Representatives’ murals), to the large and impressive Come What May seascape that greets entering visitors – to several locations within the show where you can “snap a photo suitable for a memorable social media post,” including a curved wall vignette with the Anclote Lighthouse as a backdrop and life-size cut-out of Still standing by his outdoor painting easel.

Christopher Still says of The Great State of Florida exhibition that it is “an effort to define a sense of place and who we are as Floridians and celebrate the beautiful and historic city of Tampa Springs”

These experiences are further enhanced by QR codes with cell phone access to short videos of Still in front of specific works providing a visual narrative (complimentary earbuds are included with admission.)

An informative video, produced and directed by filmmaker Kevin Starkey, documents Still’s four-year journey researching and painting the Beautiful and Historic Tarpon Springs commission for AdventHealth North Pinellas.

This 30-minute presentation, on view in the museum’s theater room, is narrated by local TV personality John Wilson, and documents the history of Tarpon Springs through interviews with living contributors and descendants of historical figures, and a cadre of historians, naturalists and scholars who have assisted Still in his research for historical and pictorial accuracy.

Christopher Still says of The Great State of Florida exhibition that it is “an effort to define a sense of place and who we are as Floridians and celebrate the beautiful and historic city of Tampa Springs.”

Even with the enhancements to the visitor experience, the true showstoppers in The Great State of Florida, Paintings by Christopher Still exhibition are the remarkable original paintings and drawings on view.

The featured Beautiful and Historic Tarpon Springs, a preliminary full-scale study created for the AdventHealth North Pinellas commission in 2019, dominates the introductory space at 8 ft. 7 in. square. This charcoal work is a tour-de-force of Still’s talent and executed in grisaille (shades of gray) as a compositional study for detail in light and shade to advance the underpainting of the finished work.

Other highlights in the exhibition include well-written labels that provide insight into the background research and evolution of the creative process. For La Florida, a seminal work Still created for the 500th anniversary of explorer Ponce de Leon’s naming of Florida, the label didactics specifically detail the extent to which Christopher Still seeks out connections and greater meaning when developing a painting.

Christopher Still, Beautiful and Historic Tarpon Springs, 2019. Charcoal on paper, 8 ft. 7 in. x 8’ ft. 7 in. (Donated by Kelly and Christopher Still to the City of Tarpon Springs)

The opportunity to view The Great State of Florida exhibition is to experience the work of Christopher Still as seen in the landscapes, waterscapes and still lifes he has created based on his focused observations of nature. The veritas of the objects and portraits he selects provide for narrative storytelling with cultural and historical accuracy.

As an artist, Still’s realist style is expressed in complex compositions of precise brushwork and a visual command for color, texture, and spatial dimension.

It’s said that the life’s work of Christoper Still represents a “commitment of preserving and celebrating the unique heritage of Florida.” For us, the viewer of this exhibition, the pictorial clarity of his art is a special opportunity to learn, experience and take pride in the unique beauty and history of our state – and as more paintings are added to the exhibition in the future, our understanding and appreciation of Christopher Still’s aesthetic will continue to grow.

To tour The Great State of Florida, Paintings by Christopher Still exhibition, you can visit the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum, 100 Beekman Lane in Craig Park. The Museum also houses permanent displays outlining the history of Tarpon Springs and its Greek heritage.


Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum
100 Beekman Lane in Craig Park
Tarpon Springs FL 34689

Monday through Friday 10 am-4 pm





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