The Panama City Center for the Arts opened three new exhibitions on September 3, with F/Stop Photography Competition and Exhibition, as well as work by local artists Michele Kimbrough, and Kelly Smith Dyer. The exhibitions will be on display until Saturday, September 25.
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.
“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.”
The F/Stop Photography Competition and Exhibition is now in its 33rd year (including the years in which the competition was named Faces and Facets). It is open to residents of all ages throughout Northwest Florida. There are six categories for the 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. Bonnie Tate-Woodby is a photographer and the owner of The Light Room in downtown Panama City. Bonnie 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 Bonnie channeled her passion for the art of photography into The Light Room, a gallery, classroom, and studio.
This month in the Miller Gallery, artist Michele Kimbrough’s work will be on display in a show titled, “Crucian Carnival Series.”
Michele 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,” said Michele, “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 a stylized realism in watercolor or fluid acrylics, or she uses another technique called paint pouring where the primary 3 colors are poured onto raised paper, and masking fluid is used to preserve the whites and lightest areas.
The experience and inspiration behind this exhibition was a visit that Michele and her husband took to St. Croix in January, 2017 during the annual Christmas parade. Michele stated, “this series enabled me to develop a portraiture style of the Crucian Carnival that I have never really focused on. 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.”
Before leaving the Center for the Arts, be sure to browse the gift shop and cafe where artist Kelly Smith Dyer’s work will be featured.
Kelly Smith Dyer was born in Somers Point, New Jersey before moving to Panama City in 1989. She uses modern cross stitch and embroidery techniques to create introspective mixed media pieces centering around the emotional journey of her life, pulling from the meditative qualities of thread art and the healing powers of creativity.
Kelly rediscovered stitching about a decade ago, 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 by volunteering 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 Kelly’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 & recovery, Hurricane Michael, and the pandemic — to find herself in a place of sustainable happiness that she had never known.
“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.”
The Center for the Arts will be open from 10am–5pm, Tuesday–Friday, and 10am–3pm, on Saturdays.
All visitors to the Center for the Arts are asked to wear masks inside the building to protect the staff and other visitors.