Standing Still and Moving Forward

Our cruise was not really cruising. We went out a bit and then sat…with the stabilizers and motors on to keep us in one place. Even a big boat drifts, which gave the impression we were moving when really, the skyline of Miami stayed pretty much in the same place all day. It was a beautiful puffy cloud day, with clouds that would shame baroque painters all sculpted, grey and gold, cream and white, paynes gray and blue. With the breeze blowing, it was a perfect moment.

Steve Gibbs, Annette Sheppard, Lewis Olsen (note rave about Lew at Art Basel Miami last December), and Kurt all put on some amazing glass demonstrations throughout the day from making an enormous conch shell to a delicate, orange footed vase with bits and applied decoration to an off hand, blue crab with wit and gesture. They drew good crowds of people—many coming back for each show—with cheering and questions and real curiousity about the medium and the making. I like that, medium and the making—save that idea for later. The set up for the show is on the 15th floor of the ship. The tippy top, next to the lawn club where Celebrity’s Richard Fain insisted there would be grass…and there was. So, glass and grass. There was an overspill of people..which may suggest a slightly different programming for the future vessels (next one to launch next year. The Solstice is the first of five of this class of ship…and the glass show goes with this class. I was very proud of the home team from the Museum of Glass. They gave a good presentation with solid messages that linked the vision of the Solstice to that of the Museum.

I did a bit of hopping around and chatting with people yesterday. I walked the shops which could be tweaked to my thinking insofar as product mix. Celebrity knows their customers…but the low end tees and visors flanking conservative high end necklaces and bracelets along with a liquor store seemed to be the mix. Not many paperbacks, nor mid range art objects to reinforce the art experience this ship offers. I think they may be missing some easy money. But hey, thankfully I do not run the universe.

I had a nice chat with the person who runs their art enterprise. Solstice has a new vendor for art—a gallery that has Dale Chihuly glass and drawings, some interesting glass artists represented, painters, digital artists and some encaustic works (works in wax). They are a bit flashy, but the real deal –and new, contemporary practicing artists. It was disconcerting to me in our former cruising experience to see tons of Leroy Neimans and painters of that ilk showcased along with uncertified, real Rembrandt and Chagall prints/etchings etc. It seemed like art that was good for you, not necessarily art that spoke to you, that you want to live with, that makes you happy. This new gallery seems to understand this and appeals to a wide range of people without dumbing the assortment down—respectfully showing work that is affordable for collectors, easy to get into, and guides that person to select something to remember their trip that has artistic integrity and merit which matches with their experience aboard the Solstice.

We got off the ship after meeting a bit with the team, and ended up in Fort Lauderdale which is very small townish, nice with beautiful beaches, great tropical plants and trees (took a bunch of reference for my garden of Eden work), with pink sidewalks, parrots flying and screeching, bird trees filled with birds eating plump fruit. We walked down the beach and saw the Solstice steaming out of Port Everglades with another load of guest for another two night tour to sharpen up the staff prior to their first paying gig, thanksgiving week. She was elegant and to our happiness and delight, we saw the hot glass glory hole on the 15th floor at a distance...the brightest light on the ship. And to my thinking, the Museum is a bright light for this new class of ships. We are very excited about the future.