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11:11 In St. Petersburg: Setting The Stage For Creative Expression






St. Petersburg, Florida, may seem an unlikely venue for artistic expression that pushes the boundaries, but consider glass artist Dale Chihuly's towering pink rock candy sculpture on Beach Drive or the organic, free-flowing design of the new Salvador Dali Museum.  

Now the city will be the site of 11:11, a unique three-day interactive experience that celebrates visionary art – a creative movement that uses art to foster a change in consciousness.  Ami Bowen, co-creator of 11:11 with her husband Mike, defines visionary art as "an attempt to find a new visual language to express that which is beyond one's everyday perception."

Artists have always pushed the envelope, dared to express thoughts that were not the mainstream and provoked public debate.  The Bowens, a 30-something couple who own Bowen Imagery, are doing just that, but in a different way than many of today's young creative types.  

"So much of today's art has elements of shock and violence," says Ami. "We're using art to explore the idea of interconnection, to look at who or what we really are as humans, and to see what people can accomplish together to create a new possibility."

Creating A Sense Of Self

This is the second year for 11:11, which launched last year with a record-breaking 800 people in attendance.  This year's event takes place November 11-13 and is once again hosted by First Unity Church. The Bowens emphasize that the event is not a religious one, but about raising creative consciousness.

Mike Bowen sums it up best on the 11:11 website he created.  "We are all given talents, desires, dreams and visions.  It is up to us to take action and act upon these spiritual nudges,'' he writes. "We are creating this event to provide a highly inspired creative experience for everyone. We want the common person to feel that greater sense of self through an experiential light, sound and visual art medium."

The event will combine multimedia and video, art, live performance, music, dance, a display and auction of local artists' work and experiential workshops.  The theme is "Let there be light, sound and art."

What is the significance behind 11:11?  "It's a spiritual number for a lot of people, a symbol that represents oneness and the idea that we are all connected as fellow human beings," says Mike, whose artistic installation at the event will be a multimedia presentation of 1,111 eyes, a project he says is intended to represent the idea that "we are all the same and yet at the same time unique."

Over the past few months, he has been snapping photographs of eyes, mostly human, but also cats, dogs, goats, turtles and the occasional lizard.  That experience has been interesting he says, both in the reaction he has received when asking people for permission to photograph their eyes and in the realization that while the color, shape and size of each eye may vary, the pupil, the area of the eye that lets in light, is the one constant.  He also points out that the eye is the one part of the body that doesn't grow; it stays the same size from birth to death.

Accessing Visionary Perception

Other visionary artists featured at the three-day event include Adam Scott Miller, Michael Divine and Julia Watkins, who are coming from around the country to deliver a combination of live painting demonstrations and workshops.  Miller's talk on "Reality of Energy and Human Perception" will "delve into the evolutionary basis of perception, how we see, what we do not, and how to access visionary perception."  

Divine's workshop on "The Rebirth of the Inner Eye" will look at the development of contemporary visionary art starting with the birth of Modern Art in the late 1800s, while Watkins will talk about "Energism", an innovative art form she pioneered that uses large colorful swirls to represent energy.

Soulfire, a Tampa Bay drumming ensemble spearheaded by the Bowens, and Hip Expressions, a Pinellas County-based dance artist group known for contemporary improvisations on traditional Middle Eastern dance, will also be performing at the event.

Janan Talafer is a St. Petersburg-based freelance writer with a passion for swing dancing, tropical gardening and collecting shells.  She shares a home office with her faithful cat Milo and dog Bear. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.

Read more articles by Janan Talafer.

Janan Talafer enjoys writing for a diverse group of clients, including print and online publications, nonprofit organizations and public relations agencies. One of the highlights of her writing career was flying with the 91st Air Refueling Squadron out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa FL for a feature about this elite military team. A journalism graduate of Bowling Green State University (OH), Janan’s early career was in health care marketing and public relations for hospitals in Connecticut and Tampa Bay. She is an avid gardener, loves East Coast swing dance and enjoys touring around St. Petersburg on the back of her husband’s scooter.
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