Summer of Art

By Xina Scuderi

Artistic Grant Projects

This is my new image titled 5 Year Goal. I created this piece for the September Déjà vu show at MIZE Gallery in St. Petersburg.

I am currently under an Individual Artist Grant with the St. Pete Arts Alliance. This is one of my art projects for the grant. It is showing with Stop Asking Why I Do This (2015) that presents the words “Invest In Your Happy Ness.”

I am often the weird artist in Mize shows. You walk the show and artists make similar works to their older works. When you see my art, you might think, ‘ok this seems related, but I don’t understand it.’ The art doesn’t align with the rest of the exhibition.

When you see this image – how do you think she feels? To me she is free. She is free to be herself.

This was a shoot I’ve been wanting to produce for years. Covid really affected my art. It set me back. I am not sure if I can get back to what I wanted to make 3 years ago.

Back then I was ready to make a collection of waterscapes and nudes. After all this time, it’s like life moved on.

Models are expensive. Tampa Bay is not a good area to try to photograph nude models. Pro models are afraid to be caught shooting nude photography in public. It can lead up to being arrested and registered as a sex offender. It was a long hard hot sunny August summer day in FL, but we did enjoy our time on the boat. Thank you to model Nova D’Armour and captain Mike Kellum for working on this project.

The inspiration to execute the shoot was inspired by the message in my old work “Invest In Your Happiness.” I keep this piece over my desk to remind myself to ‘stop asking why I do this’ (art, photography or whatever) and just do it.

The model here is free. She isn’t controlled. She can be naked on the beach – if she wants. So I called it 5 Year Goal. I want to be more free.

Weird train of thinking. When I see her nude on the beach it’s like – I want to be free, too. In my world that means reaching my 5 year goal. I’ve been on track to meet a 5 year goal for a few years now. I can’t give details. Soon I’ll be naked on the beach?

The piece feels unfinished. I’ll play with it more later. I will probably take it into mixed media.

In the past I have received the St. Pete Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant for my annual art show Files & Film. This time I wanted it for my art.

I am not represented by any gallery. I have relatively no following on social media. I have no fan base. We are very fortunate in Pinellas County that these grant programs exist. If they didn’t – I would’ve quit. If I didn’t have the one gallery that shows my work – MIZE – plus these programs, I virtually wouldn’t exist as an artist.

Somehow my art is good enough, I have enough professional acquaintance relationships out there and successful projects that I can earn the SPAA grant purely for my art. Not a project for the community – the typical strategy to receive these grants. Of course I had to have projects on my list that were to show out in the community to earn the grant. I had shows coming up and art I wanted to make, so that’s what I submitted.

Images from my Miami trip under the Individual Artist Grant with St. Pete Arts Alliance.

The first project in the grant was my 5-day trip to Miami in May to create new architecture images. I love Miami! I would never live there, though. I have been visiting Miami for about 10 years. I’ve been studying architecture for about 2 years. I love mid-century modern and art deco. Miami is a special area for art deco.

I drove down there by myself and shot photography for 5 days straight to begin my Art Deco architecture series in Miami. I exhibited 2 new pieces – Deco 1 & 2 at Files & Film.

At the time I submitted for the grant, I was taking exams for college, applying for jobs, and managing Files & Film, all while running a commercial service photography business and working full time. It was a relief that I received it because I had already committed to all these projects to propose the grant. Thank you, St. Pete Arts Alliance for supporting my all of my art projects in the back half of the year.

I often experience people arguing with me about my photography. Here you see a group of beach umbrella attendants on Miami Beach blocking my shot of umbrellas under orders from their beach umbrella boss at The Faena. They had no guests.

Art Beyond the Walls

Deco 1 & 2 – 24” x 36” resin panels currently on display at The Bilmar Resort

I merged my SPAA grant with another project I wanted to do called Art Beyond the Walls with Creative Pinellas. In advance I contacted Cindy Stovall. I told her I wanted to participate in Art Beyond The Walls, and list the project in my grant projects. There was no promise I would be selected, but we both agreed that my newer Florida architecture and lifestyle images would be great to offer the hotels. So I went for it. Cindy went for it. I was selected.

Making 4 new pieces of art for the Bilmar Beach Resort in Treasure Island was challenging. In the program the art is usually already made. I also presented the 2 Art Deco pieces from Files & Film at the Bilmar. The timeline was tight. I was going on vacation for 5 days between being selected and installing. I had to finish the project to build a 5’ wood circle panel for artist Margaret Juul – AND deliver a family beach session to a client AND my fall semester had started – before I flew out to Colorado. I had to order the prints for Cindy and MIZE before I flew out. I ordered the prints at 11 p.m. before my flight at 5:30 a.m.

I remember waking up the first morning back after flying in at 1:30 a.m., opening my eyes, seeing the fan on our ceiling, and thinking ‘Omigaawddd! I’m home!!!!!!’ getting up out of bed, putting my engagement ring on, smiling at my (new status) ‘fiancé’ – and immediately making art.

The next day I had to go back to work. Cindy, her team, and I worked together – got it done. I delivered the art in the middle of September. Looks wonderful!

They made a video about my art. I absolutely hate myself on camera. I forced myself knowing it would be good for me. I let the pros do their work. I’ve seen their videos for the program. There’s no way this is going to be horrible. I can’t wait to see it! Thank you, Cindy Stovall, Freddie, Clyde – GM at The Bilmar, and Starfruit Productions for working with me!

Images from my trip to the Florida Keys in March 2022. The first two images are on display at The Bilmar Resort for Art Beyond the Walls.

Arts Annual

My next and last part of my grant work is the Arts Annual 2022 at Creative Pinellas. I could show almost anything I want. It’s not a themed show, or an environment with a look and lifestyle to match with the art.

I met with Beth Gelman. We decided I would make architecture art. She is going to give me the freedom to make whatever I want, so this could change. I love one of the images from my Miami trip in May called The Pink House. This can be my excuse to make it.

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