We recently had the opportunity to interview Fairgrounds St. Pete FLORIDARAMA Artist Calan Ree. Her diorama Skunk Ape Shares Lima Beans with Martian, is aptly titled, as that’s exactly what it depicts!
Originally from NY, Calan Ree has called St. Pete, FL home for 20 years. Her ceramic and mixed media figurative sculptures have been shown in group exhibitions and solo shows and can be found in the homes of collectors in the US and abroad. Her work can be described as haunting and sweet, macabre yet humorous. Ree uses dichotomy to reach the viewer on a subconscious level. Says Calan, “I am always striving to create work that will gently tug at the viewer’s heart strings. By creating work that moves me in some way, I can often create a similar experience in others. Whether it brings to mind a personal memory, a deep emotion or a simple smile, the art’s ability to stir something in the viewer is evidence of a human connection we all share; a connection that is undeniably beautiful.”
Read on to learn more about what the experience of being part of our inaugural exhibit is like for her!
What do you want the public to take away from experiencing the FLORIDARAMA diorama you have created for Fairgrounds St. Pete?
CALAN REE: Joy and Curiosity!
What about being a part of Fairgrounds St. Pete’s inaugural exhibition is most exciting to you?
CR: Fairgrounds St. Pete being an immersive art experience rather than a gallery is very compelling. This being the inaugural exhibition is very exciting, in and of itself. While I have a general idea of what Fairgrounds St. Pete might be like, for the most part I’ll be experiencing this brand new art destination for the first time like any other visitor. I love the anticipation, the newness. I can’t wait to see what the other artists created and to experience the world that will exist when all of our efforts are combined.
What or what inspired your Fairgrounds St. Pete FLORIDARAMA?
CR: Florida folklore, particularly the BigFoot-like cryptid, SkunkApe, and its habitat in the Everglades forest. I found there are some theories that propose this type of cryptid may be alien. I also read some reports of alien and UFO encounters originating in the same forest. So, all of this came together to create a narrative in my mind that is the basis of my FLORIDARAMA.
Who or what is the most significant influence in your art practice?
CR: I’m currently reading a large book of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales and am realizing more and more how huge of an influence these stories are on my art and my childhood. It’s not that I specifically re-create fairy tale characters, but all my characters could have jumped out of the pages of one. There is a lot of anthropomorphism happening in my imagination all the time. This has been the case as long as I can remember and I think my art reflects that.
Besides Fairgrounds St. Pete, do you have an upcoming project you’d like to share?
CR: Yes! I’m thrilled to have been invited to exhibit at the Kirk Gallery in Denmark. I will have a handful of pieces in the group exhibition entitled Dreambags and Jaguar Shoes opening on the 29th of May.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
CR: Every time I try to answer this question I feel like I’m ultimately trying to save my younger self from some mistake…which implies regret. I’ve made lots of mistakes but I don’t believe in regret. So, I think I’ll just let mini-me figure it out. She’s going to be okay, no matter what.
What is your favorite FL destination or landmark?
CR: The Florida Reef (seaward of Key Largo)