It’s not every day that we get the opportunity to see the life work of a living legend. It’s even less likely we can find the work available for purchase. Sarasota’s Chasen Galleries is bringing Tampa Bay this very opportunity with the exhibition “Peter Max: The Retrospective 1960-2020 Collected Works from the Studio of America’s Iconic Pop Artist,” which closes on Jan. 26.
With bright colors and fluid lines, it isn’t hard to spot a Max piece. The trained graphic artist’s work has appeared throughout mainstream media and society for decades. He had exhibitions in Tampa (2016, Tampa Museum of Art) and in Safety Harbor (2019, Syd Entel Galleries), but Chasen curator Lesley Smith assured CL that “Retrospective” would be a unique experience. As she put it, “This is a fun show. More like a rock and roll concert, not a stuffy gallery show.”
“Peter Max: The Retrospective 1960-2020 Collected Works from the Studio of America’s Iconic Pop Artist”
Closes Jan. 26. Receptions Jan. 25 (6 p.m.-8 p.m.) and Jan. 26 (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.)
Chasen Galleries. 1830 S. Osprey Ave. No. 102, Sarasota.
Over the years of his career, Max has been the official artist for everything from the NHL to the Grammy awards; his work was shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art three times. The Sarasota show features a bat he painted for the Subway Series (that’s when the Yankees play the Mets in the Big Apple, for all the non-baseball people), as well as an painted hockey stick. Most of the works are on paper or canvas, making them slightly easier to display in your home. Prices start at $2,475 but Smith said there are payment plans available (with credit approval, of course). Smith also explained that collectors making a purchase of $9,000 or more will have an included trip to NYC for a studio visit with the artist and a one night stay. Since Peter Max won’t be present during the showing in Sarasota this would make for an incredible opportunity for those able to make that kind of purchase. Original artwork by a living legend and the opportunity to meet him in his creative space? Kind of priceless if you ask me. Those on tighter budgets still have a great opportunity since there’ll be 100 Max works on display in the gallery to get immersed in.
As Smith calls Max’s work “happy and colorful”, it seems the gallery will be an excellent environment for a little mood lift. A visit to a bright gallery with some good music could be what a lot of us need. No, it won’t end wars or put out the fires around the world but it could richly enhance your day and week.
Things have not always been so bright and happy, however, for Peter Max. Born in Berlin in 1937, his family fled Germany and the Nazi regime when he was only a small child. The family embarked on a world expedition spending time in China, various countries in Africa, and finally settling in the United States. What impressed me about Max was that, despite starting out in what most of us would consider a rough beginning, he has done nothing but bring beauty and joy into the world through colors and flow. We might be able to gather up some of his wisdom while surrounded by his works.
Since I was not able to chat with the artist himself, I took to the world of YouTube to watch some interviews and was not disappointed. This guy is incredible and lives his work. He often spoke about being in and creating in “the moment,” letting it all flow and not fighting the creative process. Those words were repeated in interviews that spanned from 1973 through 2015. Like I said, most of us will not have the opportunity to meet the artist himself but his work will be up at the Chasen Galleries in Sarasota from Thursday, Jan. 15 until Sunday, Jan. 26. Two receptions—one on Jan. 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and another on Jan. 26 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.—are free and open to the public, although RSVP is suggested. The gallery does also have regular hours throughout the week, if you can’t make the weekend.
The work of Peter Max has already been sprinkled throughout your life, even if you don’t realize it—regardless of your budget or credit score. His graphic designs have adorned coffee cups, stages, airplanes, and a million college dorm walls. Your parents likely have something of his stashed away in a box somewhere, buried decades ago. Chasen Galleries is presenting a truly unique experience for the Tampa Bay area.