We recently had the opportunity to interview Fairgrounds St. Pete FLORIDARAMA Artist Eileen Goldenberg. Her diorama Poseidon Estates: A Retirement Community For Merpeople, shows that neither your age nor your fins can keep you down!
Eileen Goldenberg is a painter, sculptor and writer who enjoys mixed media, assemblage and mosaics. She has exhibited at the Tampa International Airport, St. Pancras Station in London, Gallery 221, Scarfone Gallery, Mize Gallery and Florida Craft Art and participated in group shows in NYC, New Jersey, LA and other locations. Eileen also writes and illustrates children’s books. She belongs to a woman’s art collective, Creatives Exchange, and serves on various art boards and committees, including the Outdoor Arts Foundation and Artspace. A recent project is the interactive Get out the Vote mural in Seminole Heights, honoring her shero, the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Of Fairgrounds, Eileen says, “I am excited to be a participant for this very innovative addition to Tampa Bay’s cultural landscape!”
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?
Eileen Goldenberg: I’m hoping mostly that it brings smiles, and that they may enjoy a few minutes inside the story in my head. Maybe wonder, who are these Merpeople? Why are they living on land, in a gated community? (Could it have anything to do with the destruction of the Coral Reefs?) Who are those humans waiting on them?
What about being a part of Fairgrounds St. Pete’s inaugural exhibition is most exciting to you?
EG: Two summers ago, I visited Meow Wolf in Santa Fe and immediately became obsessed with the hope that we’d get our own immersive art experience here. Not long after, I heard about Fairgrounds St. Pete, so thank you, Universe and Fairgrounds Team! When I was selected as an inaugural artist for FLORIDARAMA, I was beyond excited for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing, playful, joyful place.
What inspired your Fairgrounds St. Pete FLORIDARAMA?
EG: Who wouldn’t be inspired by the weird and wacky state of Florida?! Some of the jumping off points included McMansions, mermaids and the environment, so I decided to combine these three. I had just read “Dictionary of Imaginary Places” and had fun imagining what might go on in a secret gated community with expat Merpeople. I depicted a very busy birthday party for Nonmo- the oldest resident.
What is the most significant influence in your art practice?
EG: As a child, I was an obsessive reader and would only put my books down long enough to try to illustrate scenes from my books; mostly fairy tales and later science fiction. I still love viewing a painting that absorbs me with a narrative. But this is the hardest question of all, as there is so much that inspires me; from the paintings of the Renaissance, to the expressionists and surrealists, to artists I discover daily, to the talent and creative imaginations of the artists who live and work right here in my community!
Besides Fairgrounds St. Pete, do you have an upcoming project you’d like to share?
EG: Yes! I’m just finishing up a project for the City of Tampa: a mobile public art project called the Poetry Post. It’s interactive, and incorporates text by Tampa wordsmith Gianna Russo and local contest winners, and encourages viewers to submit their own written pieces as part of this large, colorful “movable sculpture” that will be displayed in multiple locations around the city.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
EG: I’d tell my younger self to embrace her quirkiness and not be so heartbreakingly self-conscious. (And that everything’s going to turn out – not just fine- but pretty great!)
What is your favorite FL destination or landmark?
EG: Ahh, another hard one: I happen to love my own neighborhood of Davis Islands, with its own weird Florida history and where I spent my formative years and still live. I love kayaking around the canals and treasure the occasional dolphin and manatee encounters. Also, St. Pete with its vibrant arts community, Duncan McClellan’s glass wonderland, the street art and galleries and now of course, the Factory and Fairgrounds St. Pete! I also love Wynwood in Miami and never miss Art Basel.