Discovering Dali in New Ways
By Kai Rambow
Ansel Adams and Salvador Dali as inspirations? “When you do it in black and white you’re not a realist, because it’s an abstraction,” explained Clyde Butcher. Butcher, frequently described as the Ansel Adams of the Everglades, was commissioned by the museum to photograph Dali’s home and surroundings in Spain. The photographs are captivating; the connection to Dali fascinating.
Visions of Dali’s Spain
Early in his career, Butcher “loved Star Trek and Star Wars, decided to do abstract pictures of outer space, a Dalinesque thing in color. I’ve always seen outside of the box. Most people photograph things; I photograph environments. Dali was really into the landscape, shapes of rocks.”
It was Butcher’s first trip to Spain and he had no idea what it was going to be like. “No one said take pictures of this. I didn’t realize it at the time, many of the photos I took were the backgrounds he painted.” Several of these similarities are illustrated by the title captions.
Tip: Be sure to get the audio guides, included with admission. Over 30 minutes of commentary enrich viewing.
Dreams of Dali
Ever like a painting so much you wanted to jump into it? Well, now you can. Tucked away in the Dali galleries is a virtual reality experience. Dreams of Dali enables you to go through one of Dali’s paintings complete with sound. While you’re exploring, others waiting in line are able to see where you are in the painting. This is fun to watch and be part of, and one I look forward to doing again in the future.
If you love architecture, these tours take you back to the design and construction of the museum. Some aspects are absolutely fascinating. For example, each glass pane is a different measurement. Argon gas is sealed in between the double panes to keep the building cool.
This is an easy tour because it takes place in one spot indoors. Docents use large laminated photos taken during construction to help illustrate. Architecture tours are free with admission, but only run on Saturdays and Sundays.
This tour does not show up on radar. Theoretically it’s on the website, but I’ve never found it. Only one docent, Marlys, leads this one hour tour. Her wonderful enthusiasm for both Dali’s work and the museum provides fresh insights into all kinds of things you might glance at and think nothing more. For example, Marlys described one part of the building as “real fake.” I’ll leave this discovery for the tour.
Maryls know her subject well, and just as important, kept us in the shade as we toured the garden on a hot day. Tours are currently offered on some Mondays at 10:30. Call a few days before and press extension 4 to confirm the tour is running. Reservations are not required nor is there an extra charge.
Tips for a Great Trip
Suggested Itinerary: Now that you know a bit more, plan on combining a few activities on your next visit. For example, you could take the garden tour, then see Butcher’s photographs and finish with the virtual reality experience. Remember, if you arrive at opening time, it’s less crowded.
You’ll Be Cool: Once you’ve experienced these little-known gems, you can be the cool one with relatives and friends by leading them to the not so obvious.
Special thanks to Clyde Butcher for his invaluable assistance.
Photos of Dali’s Spain
Until November 25, 2018
1 Dali Blvd. St. Petersburg, FL 33701