Salvador Dali lived from 1904 to 1989 and is best known for his surreal paintings, many of which have ended up at the Dali Museum in Saint Petersburg. Longtime friends of Salvador and Gala Dali, Reynolds and Eleanor Morse donated their collection to the original museum in Ohio in 1971. It was moved to Florida in 1982. The current building opened in 2011.
Artists often bring a degree of symbolism to their work, though some deny it. Others are mysterious about the meanings or insist that one must find their own meaning. Sometimes the meaning is obvious. Sometimes it is hidden. Dali’s work is overflowing with symbolism and fortunately for us he made much of its meaning known through various writings, such as his 1942 autobiography The Secret Life of Salvador Dali. The wealth of information available is staggering; I’m still trying to process it.
Wandering through the nooks of the museum hall, I was able to discern several patterns once they were pointed out to me. Many paintings have layers of detail to them, with foreground and background elements combining to make more subtle images. Many are faces. Images that arise in multiple paintings include grasshoppers, flies, overhead views of the crucifixion, partial images borrowed from other artists, and more than anything else his wife. She ends up in everything. Some symbols are more subtle. It was recently discovered that the shadows in one painting line up reveal the light source not to be the sun, but his wife’s face. Was this intentional? What else might be waiting to be discovered that Dali has not told us? He did once say that when people start seriously studying his work they will realize what is currently known is just the tip of the iceberg.
Some of his paintings remind me of dreams in the way that one thing connects to another, which connects to another in a way that doesn’t seem to remain consistent with the first or with the whole. For lack of a better term, they are illogical. The difference is that when I wake up, my conscious mind imposes an order on what little I remember in order to make sense of it, while with the paintings I see the whole all at once and I am not allowed to impose my order on them (it would require a lot of chopping). Overall, I didn’t see one that I can say I really liked. They all lacked a certain balance. If a few of the cherries are linked to show the two Salvadors are the same person, why aren’t they all linked? I find the transitions too abrupt. Still, the more I think about them, the more I see the enormous potential they have if slightly tweaked. I do love symbolic art.
Written by Daniel Noe, WayOutLife.com
Once upon a time, Honeymoon Island was known as Hog Island and was owned by a pig farmer. Then a hurricane flooded the land and cut the channel known as Hurricane Pass. The former southern half of the island was renamed Caladesi and the former northern half was developed as a getaway for newlyweds. Honeymoon Island was born. It later became a state park. It is accessed by causeway.
The north of Honeymoon Island is split, forming Pelican Cove between the east and west arms. I first explored the eastern arm, which faces the mainland. I saw several nests in the trees. Ospreys and vultures were all over the place. There were even bald eagles. From October until May that section of the trail is closed so as not to disturb them. I also saw a moth sitting in a bush. It had an iridescent, hairy back that reminded me of a hummingbird.
Returning to the playground parking lot to eat, I saw a tortoise. So did the playground kids. They got enormous pleasure from watching it eat the grass, and I watched them watch it. When I finished, I headed for the west side of the island and walked north along the beach.
I could not find a high tide line and judging by the shells and seaweed strewn everywhere, I suspect that the entire western arm is submerged on a daily basis. The sand was moist and large gulleys led into Pelican cove from among the mangroves. I planned on hiking to the northern tip and back, but I found much to distract me and eventually ran out of sunlight. There was a path part of the way between two groves of trees and numerous doorways cut into them leading to some stunningly beautiful places...
For those who get up early enough, a free educational tour of the port is available on the Bay Spirit Two (which also does paid dolphin tours). Leaving from the back of the Florida Aquarium next to the American Victory Ship, I got see well-known buildings from the opposite side. I learned the history of how the channels were deepened from twelve feet to thirty feet to accommodate larger ships and how the excess sand was used to create islands such as Davis Island, Harbour Island, and several small “spoil islands” reserved for birds and other non-humans only.
Tampa imports and exports material from all over the world. I saw giant gantry cranes for moving shipping containers on and off ships. It’s hard to appreciate the size of these until you drive under them. Elsewhere, liquid cargo such as fruit juice is pumped through pipes. Giant silos store grain, phosphorous, sulfur, solar salts, and other materials. There are several dry docks that work by being filled with water until they sink, allowing a ship to slip into them, and then are raised by pumping the water out of them allowing them to float again. This allows workers to clean and repair ships without having to use scuba gear, which I gather is quite an inconvenience. I also imagine that welding might be a problem. There are also docks set aside for several shrimping boats and for the sheriff’s department.
The tour is a treasure to many. It makes for a good field trip and is a good way to kill some time waiting for the aquarium to open.
Make reservations by calling 813-905-7678
Other Tours on Bay Spirit II
The Florida Aquarium has everything you would expect a large aquarium to have: fish, sea turtles, fish, sea cucumbers, fish, anemones, fish, spiny lobsters, fish, coral, fish, jellyfish, starfish, crabs, clams, fish, fish, fish, fish, and even fish.
There was a tank of garden eels where I could watch them pop their heads in and out of their holes. Every time someone would approach the tank they went down, and every time the person walked away they came up. There was an entire hallway devoted to pipefish, seahorses, and seadragons. Flash photography is prohibited because the light stresses them out. At least two tanks contained octopi, though there were usually hiding. Another tank had walking batfish. Those are the strangest-looking things ever to walk the seafloor – and my sister has walked the seafloor. The aquarium has a resident grouper weighing over three hundred pounds. One supersized tank extends past several large windows through which one can see an artificial reef of countless caverns and crevices hiding eels and countless other fish. Rays were everywhere. They slowly swooped upwards against the acrylic window showing off their mouth and gills. Sharks continually circle the tank. I just sat for a while and watched them go by. I find the movement of fish relaxing and the variety of life was satisfying. The aquarium makes full use of its space. There are even windows in the floor and ceilings of the hallways allowing views of tanks above and below. It seems they have attempted to create an immersive experience by giving several parts of the building walls resembling coral or cave rocks.
All this I expected from an aquarium. I did not expect them to also have three petting tanks. One tank held only starfish and large, non-stinging anemones. The anemones were so soft they seemed to be almost like wet tissue paper. Another tank held stingrays. They move so fast it is hard to get a good feel of them while being gentile and avoiding their sensitive areas – when you can get to them at all. I thought their fins were stiff and slightly slimy. Close to the entrance is a shallow tank of Indonesian bamboo sharks. They felt like rough cloth and were surprisingly squishy.
I also did not expect the extensive wetlands exhibit. Open tanks containing not only ponds and streams, but also dry land complete with trees and other plants completely surrounded me. Ducks, roseate spoonbills, and other birds flew free around the room and I was able to get right up next to them while they went about their business. Their business often included “doing their business.” You want to stay out of the way when that happens. In the various sections kept separate from each other were turtles, snakes, alligators, otters, and large fish. I even saw a blue crab.
701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, Florida
Located on the barrier island of Sand Key is Sand Key Park, which I visited in January. There is a playground, some trees, grassy areas, and a trail, but my visit started out as a bit boring. Finally, I took my chair out on the beach and just sat in the sun and wind. It wasn’t very crowded. I tried to read, but the book I had brought was also boring. I’m horrible at planning. That was when I started to walk around and noticed all the shells. There were a lot of shells both pretty and strange. Some were quite large. There were also numerous sponges and large bits of coral washed up all around me.
Inspiration struck and I started building sand castles. I made one with inner passages hidden by doors made from large shells. The other two castles somehow became sand volcanoes. I used sponges for the central fountains of lava in the craters, and red seaweed for the lava flowing down the sides. Broken red sea whips became the arcs of hot rocks thrown from the top. I lost all track of time.
While scrounging for more red seaweed to finish my lava flows, I came across the strange crab shown below. The head is at the pointed end. All the spines point this way. There was much animal life about. Sandpipers ran along the water’s edge, running back and forth to keep out of reach of the waves. Gulls flew by carrying tiny fish in their mouths, screeching the whole way.
When I finally left just before sunset, I walked along the beach to see what structures others had built. There were castles and even entire citadels. Somebody had even made a giant turtle covered in shells. All Florida beaches are treasures. How can one be bored at a beach?
1060 Gulf Boulevard, Clearwater, Florida
An often overlooked treasure in any community is the collective knowledge, wisdom, and experience of our elders. Having lived through so many great cultural and technological changes gives them additional perspective on things that younger generations lack. Learning about the past can broaden our understanding of the present, allowing us to better appreciate the progress we have made – or to keep us humble over what we might have lost. They keep history alive. What was school like? Transportation? Home life? Presidential campaigns? Having grown up in such a different world makes them the equivalent of immigrants from another country. Why visit Europe or Africa when you haven’t even visited past America?
I like stories of adventure. Not everyone has had an especially adventurous life, but since life itself is an adventure, everyone has a story of some kind. The longer the life, the more stories there are. What stories of bravery, cowardice, genius, and stupidity can our elders tell? I recently interviewed Robert Stoessner on his hundredth birthday in Dunedin to find out what stories he had to tell. It seems he has fought with the weather his whole life. During the Second World War, Stoessner was in the Tenth Mountain Division. He trained in Texas, which was “hotter than a son of a gun,” and in Colorado, which was “colder than hell.” Eventually, he was sent to Italy and the Axis powers surrendered soon after, but not before sixty men developed frostbite.
The Tenth is known for moments great and not-so-great. They were pivotal in ousting the Germans from the Alps after scaling Riva Ridge in the middle of winter – at night – to make a surprise attack from a direction the Germans didn’t even patrol because they deemed it unclimbable. It was a great moment. They were also the ones who lost more men to friendly fire than they did to the Japanese while in the Aleutian Islands. It happens.
After returning to the United States Stoessner lived in Ohio. He was married for seventy years, raised three sons, and worked in Ford’s foundry until finally escaping the “terrible weather” of Cleveland by moving to Florida in 1977. I asked him what the best thing was about Florida. “It’s warm,” he said. Stoessner now lives in Rosewood House managed by Angels Senior Living, which strives to keep the retirement years fun – and at just the right temperature.
Most of us know someone over seventy. What can they tell you?
In downtown Tampa since 2009 sits Samaria Café, named for the Samaria gorge in Crete. They serve breakfast and lunch until four every day. All the food has a bit of a Mediterranean slant. Every time I go, I order the house potato chips with my meal. They make these themselves and season them with little green flecks of I-have-no-idea-what-but-I-want-more. Last time I went, I got a Tuscan chicken sandwich with my chips. It came with Swiss cheese, mushrooms, sweet red bell pepper, and most of all it gave me something to put my chips into. It’s as if they built the place knowing that I would one day visit. They even have Tabasco sauce at each table proving they understand me well.
502 North Tampa Street
The Dog House is the place in Ruskin for everything barbeque. Seating is outdoors at covered picnic tables surrounded by tiki statues. Everything is smoked on the premises and their pork always has the perfect ratio of smoke to meat. You can really taste the smoke. They certainly have the instinct to understand what makes good pork. The sandwiches are the best. The pulled pork sandwiches and boneless rib sandwiches are local favorites. I like the southwest burger, which comes with onions, bacon, barbeque sauce, and southwest seasoning worked into the meat. It was amazing. They also have a variety of beef hot dogs, other burgers, chili, macaroni and cheese, tacos, seafood, and ice cream. Why would you ever go anywhere else? After eating all that, how would you go anywhere else? It’s easy to get full there.
106 N US-41, Ruskin, Florida
Sometimes you just need some sugar, and the rest of the time, you also need sugar. Swah-rey is a dessert bar with real barstools that also serves wine, beer, tea, and delicious Kahwa coffee roasted right here in Tampa Bay. They have a variety of cakes, pies, cheesecakes, macrons, and what they call minis, which are bite-sized cupcakes often set atop a small glass of matching beverage. You can try a lemon mini perched over a shot of ice tea or a coffee mini perched over espresso. The pies also come in glasses, as if pie isn’t already the best thing invented no matter what it comes in. They have peanut butter chocolate cake, espresso cake, orange pie, and key lime cheesecake. They have carrot cake with coconut, pineapple, and pecans in it. What else could you ask for? Steak?
There is even a nook for your pooch and desserts called pup cakes. Pup cakes are made with peanut butter, eggs, bacon, carrots, oats, honey, and other ingredients that pups like.
2105 Central Avenue, Saint Petersburg, Florida
It showcases and sells art from all over Florida, but Florida Craft Art is headquartered right here in Tampa Bay – on Central Avenue in Saint Petersburg to be precise. This is quite possibly the most interesting gallery I have ever been in, which is really saying something considering how good some of the others are. The pieces are so unique, detailed, and brightly-colored. One can easily lose track of the time and spend two hours there, thinking you are in some emperor’s collection from all over the world.
The mission of the organization is to find great artists and introduce them to the community. All art must be three-dimensional (not paintings) and of very high quality. There are the textile abstracts of Leah Gillette, the furniture of David Calvin, the glass-copper pieces of Terry Andrews, and the clay sea life sculptures of William Kidd. It was difficult to find a piece I didn’t love.
I had to know who made it and what they called it, but could not find a label. The lady at the counter told me she and another employee had actually made it and they did not have a title for it, telling me to come up with one. After thinking it over a couple days, I have decided to call it The Ghost Planet 1966. If you think you know why, leave a comment below.
The organization provides studios and classes upstairs from its roomy retail gallery and exhibition gallery. It has existed in its current location since 1995 and in Saint Petersburg since 1986, when it was known as Florida Craftsmen.
501 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL
We Tell Stories
We tell stories about local hidden treasures found in Tampa Bay.