In new solo show Rebekah Lazaridis pays tribute to the St. Pete that's 'slipping through our fingers'

'CIRCA' opens at Mize Gallery on Friday.

click to enlarge In new solo show Rebekah Lazaridis pays tribute to the St. Pete that's 'slipping through our fingers' (10)
Rebekah Lazaridis

It feels like forever ago, but 2020 was a year of things happening to us. A year of forced changes. A year in which we either searched frantically for an escape or fought tooth and nail to regain control of our lives. Or, best case scenario, made time for both activities. Some of us made small changes in 2020 and 2021. Others, like Rebekah Lazaridis, made more dramatic ones.

"The pandemic certainly changed a lot of things for me," Lazaridis told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay in a phone interview. "I was working as a scenic artist in the area for several different professional theater companies. So I wasn't able to work for a year, year-and-a-half, because the theater being shut down."
Location Details

Mize Gallery

689 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St., St. Petersburg St. Pete

727-251-8529

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The change forced Lazaridis to re-evaluate how she spends her time. Before the pandemic, Lazaridis wasn't making much personal work, but that changed in 2020-2021.

"When you're a scenic artist, when you're on a ladder all day painting things, that's really rewarding and amazing work, but at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is come home and paint or create for myself," says Lazaridis.

With scenic painting out of the equation, 2020-2021 gave Lazaridis the time and energy to create more for herself.

"While we were in lockdown, [my husband and I] bought a home, and I wanted to make a closing gift to thank our realtor," Lazaridis told CL. "So I did a home illustration of his house, but I wanted to do it in a different way, so I put it on colored cardstock and I made the emphasis the sky and the silhouette of the home."

Although Lazaridis never had much time for personal work, this wasn't the first time she'd focused her artist eyes on homes and neighborhoods. In 2019, she submitted a painting to "Creep," a show at Mize gallery; the work features a ghost walking down the street she lived on.
click to enlarge In new solo show Rebekah Lazaridis pays tribute to the St. Pete that's 'slipping through our fingers' (4)
Rebekah Lazaridis
"I got to paint this street and these houses, and I felt like I was immersed in it," Lazaridis told CL. "It was such an amazing escape...such a lovely way for me to lose myself. I felt like if I could keep that feeling in my work, then I would feel successful and happy with myself. In doing these home illustrations, it's the exact same feeling, because I feel like I can get lost. I get immersed in creating them. I feel like I'm actually in them."

These experiences led to a full-time career in home illustration in 2020-2021. Lazaridis also launched a series of drawings in which she depicts St. Petersburg through a selection of 40 off-the-beaten-path local landmarks. The series includes drawings of The Beach Theatre, Southland Roller Palace, Biff Burger, Sunken Gardens, the old Ovo Café and H D Cafeteria. Lazaridis depicts each in colored pencil on colored cardstock in the style of the home illustrations she completed during this same time period.

Making these drawings gave Lazaridis an opportunity to reflect on the past, to escape the present, and to move forward.

For a third-generation St. Pete native like Lazaridis, it's hard to separate family history from St. Pete history. Many of the places depicted in this series carry personal significance for Lazaridis, like H D Cafeteria, where she used to eat dinner with her grandparents every night. Others are based on community memory as expressed on "Remember When St. Pete FL." She drew some as they are now, and others as they were then. So much of this project is based on personal and collective memories of St. Pete, that memory itself became the theme of Lazaridis' fifth solo show, happening at Mize Gallery which opens on Friday and runs through Jan. 23.
click to enlarge In new solo show Rebekah Lazaridis pays tribute to the St. Pete that's 'slipping through our fingers' (3)
Rebekah Lazaridis
Lazaridis and Chad Mize touch on the theme of memory in "Circa: New works by Rebekah Lazaridis" in multiple ways. First they express the difficulty in attaching exact dates to personal memories via the show's title: Circa.

"Circa is just a word that refers to a time and a place," Lazaridis told CL. "I don't have one time period with each of these pieces, because some of these places are no longer in business. And I kind of wanted to create even more of a sense of nostalgia and story with some of these places. I thought that the word 'Circa' would be a way to indicate that."

Lazaridis drew the Ovo Café circa 1997, around when it first opened. She depicted Haslam's Book Store c. 2019, right before it closed due to COVID.

"St. Pete is changing so much," Lazaridis told CL. "I kind of wanted to focus on all these little places that I feel are slipping through our fingers in a way, and make them just as important and iconic. These places for me are the authenticity and heartbeat of St. Petersburg, apart from the art scene, which is why so many people are moving here."

In addition to the 40 eight-by-ten to 11-by-14-inch drawings, "Circa" includes a "nostalgia nook." Mize provided this additional space for Lazaridis to share her family's history in St. Pete. When I called, Lazaridis was already forming a pile of personal items to display at Mize Gallery this January. The collection includes a picture of her mother at Sunken Gardens c. 1955, one of her grandfather's high school track shoes, and an illustration of her grandmother's home c. 1960.

"It is very much a nod to nostalgia," says Lazaridis, "but a lot of these places are still here and around."

Lazaridis' "Circa" reminds us that nothing lasts forever. The small businesses that define St. Pete can't survive perpetually rising operating costs without our continual patronage. So they come and go as their popularity waxes and wanes through the years. "Don't forget these places," Lazaridis' work calls to us. "They made us who we are."
click to enlarge In new solo show Rebekah Lazaridis pays tribute to the St. Pete that's 'slipping through our fingers' (9)
Rebekah Lazaridis
click to enlarge In new solo show Rebekah Lazaridis pays tribute to the St. Pete that's 'slipping through our fingers' (8)
Rebekah Lazaridis
click to enlarge In new solo show Rebekah Lazaridis pays tribute to the St. Pete that's 'slipping through our fingers' (7)
Rebekah Lazaridis
click to enlarge In new solo show Rebekah Lazaridis pays tribute to the St. Pete that's 'slipping through our fingers' (5)
Rebekah Lazaridis
click to enlarge In new solo show Rebekah Lazaridis pays tribute to the St. Pete that's 'slipping through our fingers' (2)
Rebekah Lazaridis
click to enlarge In new solo show Rebekah Lazaridis pays tribute to the St. Pete that's 'slipping through our fingers'
Rebekah Lazaridis
click to enlarge In new solo show Rebekah Lazaridis pays tribute to the St. Pete that's 'slipping through our fingers' (6)
Rebekah Lazaridis
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About The Author

Jennifer Ring

Jennifer studied biology for six years, planning for a career in science, but the Universe had other plans. In 2011, Jen was diagnosed with a rare lung disease that sidelined her from scientific research. Her immune system, plagued by Scleroderma, had attacked her lungs to the point of no return. She now required...
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