"MIRROR" exhibit reflects the natural beauty of Safety Harbor

Living in Safety Harbor, artist Harriet Monzon-Aguirre finds inspiration all around her. 

Her paintings capture waterfront scenes from Philippe Park and the City Marina. She’s found creative ideas for her surface pattern artwork in the border design of a historical marker about Count Odet Philippe in the park that bears his name, the swamp lilies growing next to her son’s school, the Native American pottery on display in the Safety Harbor Museum & Cultural Center and the padlocks left on the waterfront boardwalk to symbolize unbreakable love.

English-born artist Harriet Monzon-Aguirre finds inspiration in the waterfront and natural beauty of her adopted hometown of Safety Harbor.The English- born artist’s artwork inspired by her adopted hometown is on display in “MIRROR,” a new exhibition at the Museum & Cultural Center. Thanks to a micro-grant from the Gobioff Foundation, the exhibit includes a documentary video, with Spanish subtitles, detailing Monzon-Aguirre’s creative process for the surface pattern design artwork on display in the exhibit.

Monzon-Aguirre describes her oil paintings as “bayscapes,” that depict the viewpoint from a canoe looking back toward shore or looking out over the water from the waterfront. 

“What I really love is when the water is still, almost like a mirror, and you get that reflection,” she says.

Monzon-Aguirre has a master’s in fine arts from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. After earning her degree and struggling to find work in the art field, she moved to Tampa Bay, where her parents lived, and worked in marketing in the spirits and wine industry. She put art aside while learning new skills like Photoshop and website design, met her future husband, got married and started a family. 

Then, two years ago, the death of a loved one drove Monzon-Aguirre to return to art.

“I felt like it was a message to me that you have limited time on this planet, go for what your dreams are, don’t waste any more time,” she says. “Then, every artist needs a niche. I decided to focus on the one thing that brought me to Safety Harbor, which is the water. That sense of where healing waters flow really sunk into my bones.”

“MIRROR” is on display at the Safety Harbor Museum & Cultural Center, which is located at 329 Bayshore Blvd. S. and open Thursday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., through September 3rd. An opening reception is scheduled from  6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, August 18th, during downtown Safety Harbor’s monthly Third Friday event.

In addition to “MIRROR,” the Gobioff Foundation’s latest micro-grant cycle funded these projects:
  • “The Dancing Queen,” an annual event the women-led organization She’s Got It organizes to empower and celebrate women in the local freestyle/street style dance community. 
  • The launch event for “The Hatchet Sun,” a collection of works from poet Victoria Dym, followed by an open mic event at the Kress Building, 1624 E. Seventh Ave. in Ybor City, on September 2nd.
  • “Look Who Decided to Stop By,” by Erin Titus, a “collaborative body of work that plays with the constant paradoxes between symbolism and function of objects in the home,” on display at Drift at the Kress Building, 1624 E. Seventh Ave. in Ybor City, on September 28th.

The current application cycle for Gobioff Foundation microgrants closes on September 1st and will fund projects taking place from November 1, 2023, through April 3, 2024.

For more information, go to Gobioff Foundation, Safety Harbor Museum and Cultural Center, Bahia Studios.
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Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.