PANAMA CITY — A picture-perfect Friday is expected, at least in the main gallery at the Panama City Center for the Arts.
The F/Stop Photography Competition and Exhibition will open alongside two other exhibits featuring work by local artists Michele Kimbrough and Kelly Smith Dyer. The exhibitions will be on display until Sept. 25.
“Our F/Stop exhibition is one of the most interesting exhibitions of the year,” said Jayson Kretzer, executive director of Bay Arts Alliance. “Every year, we get to see where our community has been visiting and what they’ve been up to. It’s like a family photo album on the wall, full of great memories.”
2019:Photography competition opens Friday
The public can peruse the shows during an opening reception for all of the exhibitions from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, with F/Stop competition awards being announced at 6 p.m.
Now in its 33rd year, the F/Stop Photography Competition and Exhibition (originally named “Faces and Facets”) is open to residents of all ages throughout Northwest Florida. There are six categories for adults — nature, people, architecture, abstract/altered, landscape and traditional — and a special category for youth photographers.
This year’s judge is local photographer and artist Bonnie Tate-Woodby, owner of The Light Room in downtown Panama City. Tate-Woodby studied creative writing and photography at Florida State University and later received an MFA in photography at the University of Memphis. She has worked in several areas including portrait photography, fine art and as a photography instructor at Gulf Coast State College and the former Visual Arts Center of Northwest Florida.
In 2017, Tate-Woodby channeled her passion for the art of photography into The Light Room, a gallery, classroom and photo studio at 306 Harrison Ave.
Kimbrough’s ‘Crucian Carnival Series’
This month in the Miller Gallery, artist Michele Kimbrough’s work will be on display in a show titled, “Crucian Carnival Series.” Kimbrough started pursuing art as a profession in 2001. She has always created, but her first watercolor class in 1996 helped her to define which medium she wanted to pursue.
“Most of my work comes from my own photography,” Kimbrough said. “Over the years, I’ve come to call my artwork ‘Celebrating the American Dream’ because everything I’ve created is about our current lives.”
Her work is anchored in realism but more stylized, and she used one of two techniques to achieve this current body of work. Much of Kimbrough’s work is watercolor or fluid acrylics, or she uses another technique called paint pouring where the primary 3 colors are poured onto raised paper, and a masking fluid is used to preserve the whites and lightest areas.
The experience and inspiration behind this exhibition was a visit that Kimbrough and her husband took to St. Croix in January 2017, during the annual Christmas parade.
“This series enabled me to develop a portraiture style of the Crucian Carnival that I have never really focused on,” she said. “I feel like I have arrived at the right time where my art has matured greatly since the past five years, and I hope that others will enjoy my work.”
Dyer stitches life together
The gift shop and cafe will feature artist Kelly Smith Dyer’s work. Born in Somers Point, New Jersey, she moved to Panama City in 1989. She uses modern cross stitch and embroidery techniques to create introspective mixed media pieces centering on the emotional journey of her life, pulling from the meditative qualities of thread art and the healing powers of creativity.
“There is something poetic in the action of embroidery itself,” said Anastasia Dengerud, exhibition coordinator at the Center for the Arts. “Kelly Smith expresses that poetic nature endowed with her own experience, making beautiful and personal artwork — everyone can enjoy it.”
Dyer rediscovered stitching about a decade ago, she said, falling in love with its peaceful process as well as the quirkiness of using an ancient craft in a new, modern way. It became her way of coping through (and then healing from) trauma.
When all things in her life were falling apart at once — in her home, her body and her town — she found refuge in surrounding herself in art. She volunteered with local community arts metropolis Floriopolis and its eclectic group of artists during her brain surgery recovery. Through that, she found her creativity again.
This is Dyer’s debut exhibition. It offers a glimpse into how she used thread art to heal during a time of extreme emotional and physical chaos — her marriage ending, her life-saving brain surgery and recovery, the impact of Hurricane Michael and the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, to find herself in a place of sustainable happiness that she had never known.
The Higby Gallery will be closed for the month as the Center for the Arts staff prepares for an immersive October exhibition, an experience in the Spider Cave. The Center for the Arts, 19 E. Fourth St., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is free.
All visitors to the Center for the Arts are asked to wear masks inside the building to protect the staff and other visitors. For more information, visit PCCenterForTheArts.com.