OTT: Vintage St. Pete postcard sparks new exhibit

By Virginia Johnson, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 5:06 PM EST

An entire exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg started all because of one vintage post card.

Sunshine City, by artist Gregg Perkins, is on display in the Lee Malone Gallery through May 27, as part of the museum's "Spotlight Series" focusing on local artists.

Perkins is currently an Associate Professor of Film Animation and New Media at the University of Tampa.

The postcard that inspired Perkins is a landscape of St. Petersburg circa 1930 by E.G. Barnhill, with the now demolished Hotel Soreno near the middle.

Barnhill shot the black and white photograph on film, and then hand painted it with color.

"So I basically found the vantage point for that photograph," said Perkins, who saw a new city through his lens.

Perkins' picture is circa summer 2017, and like the view, its creation is a mix of the old and the new.

"This is kind of a hybrid in that it's still shot on film to be true to the original but then it was painted with digital tools - Adobe Photoshop and illustrator," said Perkins, "using contemporary tools to achieve similar outcomes."

The Soreno sat on the downtown corner of First and First -- also the name of Perkins' high definition film being shown in the gallery.

"It spans the gap between older traditional media and new media in general," explained Perkins.

"This is kind of a hybrid in that it's still shot on film to be true to the original but then it was painted with digital tools." - Gregg Perkins

Perkins used archival footage of the hotel's 1992 demolition, and more than 20 software applications to create an artistic interpretation of sight and sound -- even adding touches of the hotel's interior.

"Orchids showed up so I created 3-dimensional orchids," said Perkins.

The flowers float up during parts of the seven-minute film.

Among other subjects, the exhibition evokes how we value the historic, how we think about redevelopment and how we consider urban planning.

Perkins says we don't own our cities -- we simply inhabit them.

"It points to this idea that these things are changing and then we have to sort of collectively think about landscape as this thing that generates identity," said Perkins.

As a final piece -- Perkins offers a touchpad 3-D look into the Soreno —- that will build and become more intricate as the exhibition continues.