Gregg Perkins: Sunshine City

February 10 through May 27, 2018

From urban legends to generational games of telephone, upholding local historical narratives is rarely a smooth process. Driven by historical research, Gregg Perkins uses the mediums of film, video, and photography to explore the fluidity of cultural narratives.

For his exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Perkins was inspired by a 1930s E.G. Barnhill postcard depicting the skyline of St. Petersburg, with the now-demolished Hotel Soreno standing at center. Barnhill was known for his atmospheric, hand-colored photographs that established a unique type of tourist art celebrating the luscious colors of Florida. Sunshine City includes the original Barnhill postcard, as well as a photograph by Perkins depicting the same vista of St. Petersburg in the present day. Using animation and digital photography programs, Perkins updates the tourist postcard to reflect the changing skyline of our city as well as developments in technology.

The destruction of the Hotel Soreno was fraught with controversy, and highlights the conflict between preservation and development. With the help of local historians and archivists, Perkins will create a digital model of the Soreno, available as a digital app. The Sunshine City will allow visitors to engage with unknown histories of St. Petersburg, and to reflect upon the rapid development inherent to urban growth.

Perkins earned a B.A. in philosophy and an M.F.A. in painting from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He taught studio art and art history at the University of Wisconsin, and was guest faculty in the graduate painting division at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Currently he is an Associate Professor of Film, Animation, and New Media at The University of Tampa. Perkins’ wok has been exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

[Image: Gregg Perkins, Sunshine City, 2018. Inkjet print. Courtesy of the Artist.]