Virginia Hoffman is a sculptor in metal and glass. She's made a name for herself (and made her mark in our area) for her signature, free-standing sculpture, architectural glass pieces and sculptural furniture. Lately, she's been pouring her energies into fine art and mixed-media photography. This upcoming exhibit, at the Sarasota County Visitor Information Center, showcases Hoffman's fine art photography, along with work by Matt Allison, Brian Braun, Salvatore Brancifort, Dale Ann Clancy and Richard Porter.
Hoffman's haunting photographs reveal old Florida buildings, abandoned factories, and ruins and relics from our state's endless cycles of boom-and-bust.
Hoffman's "Citrus Grower's House Rt. 60" is a leftover from the glory days of Florida's citrus industry. Here, the growers were field workers, not citrus barons. Their abandoned house is a wooden structure with a sagging tin roof, not a fancy mansion out of "Gone With the Wind." The marvel of the house isn't its dilapidated state. The marvel is how long it's survived more or less intact. Her image is a testament to cracker toughness.
“Willow Bridge” is another ruin — not just any old iron, but a railroad trestle bridge without a railroad. Thanks to its remote location, the abandoned structure lacks the insults of vandalism and midnight beer parties. Time has softened it with a natural patina — as nature slowly and patiently reabsorbs the artificial.
“Dead Elephants” reveals a pile of old, galvanized culverts, abandoned on the edge of the Fakahatchee Strand — one of many half-completed artifacts of boom years sprinkled across the Sunshine State. According to Hoffman, “Developers start and stop, that's the typical pattern. When times are good, they cover our state with housing developments and strip malls. When the bottom drops out, they leave behind barren land and rusted relics.” As Neil Young pointed out, "Rust never sleeps." But rust has its own unintentional beauty.
Hoffman has nicely captured it.
Artists' reception: March 1, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Through March 31 at the Sarasota County Visitor Information Center and History Center Museum, 701 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; 400-5217.