Photographic exhibition takes a historical voyage into old Florida tourism and St. Petersburg
through the unearthly palette of E.G. Barnhill
The hand-painted photographs of E.G. Barnhill (1894-1987) offer a unique voyage into the natural splendors of Florida during the early part of the twentieth century in Glow: The Hand-Painted Photographs of E.G. Barnhill, opening January 12, 2019 at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.
An artist, photographer, businessman, and adventurer, Barnhill arrived in St. Petersburg in 1913. He set up numerous businesses across the city hawking cameras and hand-colored photographs on paper and glass to area tourists. Much of his work focuses on St. Petersburg and other Florida scenery, augmenting natural beauty with painstaking heightened hand-colorization.
Barnhill claimed to be “the only man in America to use the photographic process of uranium dyes on glass.” It was a painting technique he learned from famed photographer Edward S. Curtis as a teenager and he later sourced his supplies directly from Germany, before anyone understood the element’s radioactive potential. Falling somewhere between photography and vernacular art, these “glowing” works combine ethereal beauty with Barnhill’s unique sense of showmanship.
“Barnhill was an entrepreneur and artist during the Florida tourism boom of the early 1900s,” explained photographic collection curator Robin O’Dell. “He interpreted Florida scenery with his own sense of light and vivid palette to create colorful visions that tourists purchased and cherished as memories of their travels.”
The exhibition, which runs from January 12 through April 7, 2019, consists of historically framed hand-painted glass plates from the collections of Lisa Stone, Dr. Robert and Chitranee Drapkin, Michael Turbeville, as well as a selection of paper prints from the MFA collection.
On Sunday, January 27, from 3-4 p.m., MFA curator Robin O’Dell will host a gallery talk centered around Barnhill’s practice and influence. The discussion is free with museum admission.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
The MFA at 255 Beach Drive NE has a world-class collection, with works by Monet, Morisot, Rodin, O’Keeffe, Willem de Kooning, and many other great artists. Also displayed are ancient Greek and Roman, Egyptian, Asian, African, pre-Columbian, and Native American art. Selections from the photography collection, one of the largest and finest in the Southeast, are on view in a gallery dedicated solely to the medium. Kristen A. Shepherd is the Executive Director.
Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, until 8 p.m. on Thursday, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Regular admission is $20 for adults; $15 for those 65 and older, Florida educators, college students, and military; and $10 for students 7 and older. Children under 7 and Museum members are admitted free. Groups of 10 or more adults pay only $14 per person and children $4 each with prior reservations. Also, admission is only $10 after 5 p.m. on Thursday. The MFA Café is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. For more information, please call 727-896-2667 or visit mfastpete.org.