Articles At A Glance
Florida Artist Donald Blake is Antique Shop Venue
By: Lani Czyzewski
As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, July 2007
Donald Blake was a prominent and prolific Florida artist, and the full extent of his talent is just being rediscovered. Although skilled in many art media, his love of landscape painting comes to life through vibrant and expressive watercolors and oil paintings. The majority of these show scenes of Florida coastal fishing villages, beaches, old oak trees covered with moss and mountain scenes from western North Carolina.
Recently, around 40 of his works from the 1930s and 1940s were placed on the market by a relative, Rosalind Blake, Donald’s niece by marriage. This collection of watercolors and oil paintings is thought to be the largest grouping of his work known to be offered for sale since his death in 1964. In December last year, the premier viewing of these works was a very well received event at Lani’s Antiques and Collectibles in Temple Terrace, Florida. Nearly a hundred people attended a two-hour opening reception – a Temple Terrace record and an unusual event for an antique shop. “I was amazed that nearly half of the paintings were sold that evening, but many excellent ones remain,” said Lani Czyzewski.
Born in Bushnell, Florida in 1889, Donald and his family moved to Tampa when he was six years old. He graduated from Hillsborough High School and spent four years at the Philadelphia School of Fine Arts. There he was awarded the Cressan scholarship for study abroad where he studied and painted in England, France, Belgium, Holland, and Italy.
Prior to and after serving in the Army during World War I, he was a commercial artist in New York City working as an illustrator for McCall’s magazine. He joined the faculty of the Ringling School of Art in 1933, teaching commercial art until his retirement in 1954. During summers from 1941-1945 the Ringling sponsored a special program where students and faculty lived and studied together as they painted from nature for three months each year, and Donald Blake was one of the lead faculty for this program.
An exhibition by the full Ringling faculty, including Blake, was said to have “brought the largest crowd ever to see an art exhibition in the history of Sarasota,” according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune. In 1947, Blake was one of six faculty members whose watercolors were on exhibition at the Orlando Art Association. This exhibition was described as “one of the finest watercolor exhibits ever to be staged in Orlando.”
After retiring from Ringling, Donald Blake spent many enjoyable years painting in his large Tampa Heights backyard studio. It was specially designed with a platform under a massive skylight that allowed natural daylight to flow through the space.
Lani's Antiques & Collectibles is located at 8858 N. 56th Street, in the Terrace Plaza Shopping Center (east of 56th Street and south of Busch Blvd./Bullard Parkway). The shop is between the Temple Terrace Post Office and a Payless Shoe Store. Store hours are 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday - Friday, and 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday. They are closed Sunday and Monday. Owners Lani and Paul Czyzewski may be reached by phone at: 813-899-6010.
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