Archive for June, 2009

Allen Leepa, founder of Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, dies at age 90

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     ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 29, 2009) — Allen Leepa, a noted abstract Expressionist and Minimalist artist who, along with his then-wife Isabelle, donated a valuable art collection to St. Petersburg College that became the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, died Friday.  He was 90.
     A professor of art for many years at Michigan State University, he retired to Tarpon Springs. In 1997, the Leepas decided to donate their extensive art collection to St. Petersburg College, which in turn established the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at the Tarpon Springs Campus.

Artist Allen Leepa

Artist Allen Leepa

     The collection, consisting of thousands of works by Leepa; his mother, Esther Gentle Rattner; and his stepfather, figurative expressionist Abraham Rattner; as well as by Picasso, Chagall, Rouault, Hans Hofmann and others, is valued at more than $20 million.
     Besides the art collection, the Leepas gave the college $2.5 million to put toward establishing the new museum.
      The gift was praised by the Florida Legislature, Fortune and Newsweek magazines, and Microsoft’s Slate 60 online magazine. Fortune magazine named the Leepas among 1996’s 40 most generous Americans; Newsweek called the gift one of national significance.
      The groundbreaking for the 58,000-square-foot museum complex was Nov. 9, 1999, and it opened in January 2002. The building itself is tall, starkly angled and contoured in a style reminiscent of the work that it houses. Besides the museum, the building also houses the Tarpon Springs Campus’s Fine Arts Education Center and its Michael M. Bennett Library.
      At the groundbreaking, Leepa described his vision for the museum.
      “This museum is a vehicle to promote education through the arts,” he said. “The creative and emotional development attainable through personal involvement in art can offer profound guidelines in education and to the personal growth of the college student and public spectator.”
     SPC President Carl M. Kuttler Jr. remembered Leepa’s gift and discussed its meaning to the college as well as to the community.
     “This very generous gift of such magnificent works by Allen and Isabelle Leepa has become one of St. Petersburg College’s most valuable assets,” he said. “It also has added greatly to the cultural value of West Central Florida. We are proud that they chose our college to become their collection’s permanent home.”
      Allen Leepa was born in Brooklyn, N. Y. He spent his early years in California, but returned to New York at age 14 to attend high school.
      He received training in the visual arts in WPA classes at the The Art Students League in New York City. In 1937, he received a scholarship to the New Bauhaus school of design, established by László Moholy-Nagy in Chicago.  That period introduced him to European modernism and to the importance of art education.
 He studied at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts before earning undergraduate and graduate degrees at Columbia University in New York City.
      Dr. Leepa had a number of one-man and group exhibitions in New York, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida, France and Brazil. He wrote many articles and published two books, The Challenge of Modern Art, an art appreciation text book in its fifth printing, and “Rattner,” a biography of the life and art of Abraham Rattner, his stepfather.
      Isabelle Leepa died in 2006 at age 78.
      Funeral arrangements are being handled by Vinson Funeral Home, Tarpon Springs. Services are pending.


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            ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 19, 2009) – St. Petersburg College announced today it will open its state-of-the-art shooting range to the public this month, and will offer a gun safety course taught by National Rifle Association (NRA) certified instructors.

             JC Brock, campus executive officer at the Allstate Center, said the sessions will run through August and will be limited to 10 students. The cost is $90.55 per person.

            “There is a great demand now for concealed weapons permits and for gun safety classes,” Brock said. “We want to leverage our indoor range to support that community demand.”

            Brock said the training program will be available to college employees, a number of whom have asked whether the gun range could be made available for training of non-law enforcement personnel.

            The four-hour training sessions, which satisfy the state of Florida’s requirement for concealed weapon permits, started June 6. They will be held on the following Saturdays:

  • July 18
  • Aug. 1
  • Aug. 15
  • Aug. 29

            Other courses may be scheduled after that if demand warrants it, Brock said.

            The college’s indoor range, Brock said, has 30 lanes and offers a climate-controlled, lead-free environment. Its primary function is to support weapons training for law enforcement personnel.

            To learn more, contact Randy Lewis at 341-4518, or at lewis.randy@spcollege.edu.



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student services picture 2        ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 19, 2009) — St. Petersburg College today obtained LEED Gold certification for the new Student Services Building on the St. Petersburg/Gibbs campus, one of the first buildings in Pinellas County to earn the designation.

            LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Gold is its second highest designation.

            Susan Reiter, SPC’s Vice President of Facilities Planning and Institutional Services, said the U.S. Green Building Council finalized the LEED review process and issued the certification.

            The new building, built by Biltmore Construction Company, was designed to serve as the campus “living room.”

            “The main soul of the building is a two-story space that enhances the living/learning experiences of the students, faculty and staff on the Gibbs Campus,” said Leo Arroyo, Principal and Director of Design at Canerday, Belfsky + Arroyo, Architects, the building’s architect. “The students gravitate to it to play, collaborate on group projects, and study in-between classes.”

            In January the college opened the new building along with the Natural Science and Mathematics Building on the Clearwater campus; both were built to conform to the LEED Green Building Rating System™, a nationally accepted certifier of high performance green buildings. The Clearwater building is awaiting Gold certification.

            Both buildings were designed to decrease pollution and negative impacts on the environment; decrease impact on local aquifers; decrease energy consumption; and increase the quality of indoor air.

            Some of the Student Services Building’s sustainable features include “Energy Star” product specification, and a large, energy-efficient industrial ceiling fan that makes the surrounding area feel between 8-16ºF cooler.

The building utilizes “Green Cleaning” products, and permanent entryway systems capture dirt and particulates.  Reflective roofing and paving materials result in cooler surfaces.

Preferred parking is provided for fuel-efficient vehicles/carpools, and bicycle storage and shower/changing facilities are located within 200 yards of entranceways. Composite wood products contain no added urea formaldehyde, and all adhesives, paints and carpets meet low volatile organic compound (VOC) standards.

There is no smoking within 25 feet of any entry.

“The completion of the new Student Services building demonstrates environmental sensitivity and works hand-in-hand with the new environmental degree programs recently developed at the college,” said Jason Green, SPC’s Sustainability Director.

            With only a handful of other LEED buildings in Pinellas County, the Student Services Building is an example of the many initiatives SPC is undertaking to become a leader in the sustainability movement.

            Additional facts about the building:

  • 40 percent water savings achieved through low-flow fixtures, dual-flush toilets and waterless urinals.
  • At least 75 percent of all construction waste recycled.
  • 30 percent of the total value of construction materials contains recycled content.
  • At least 20 percent of materials or products used were extracted, harvested, recovered, and/or manufactured within 500 miles.
  • At least 2.5 percent of the total value of building materials and products used are considered rapidly renewable building materials and products.
  • 95 percent of wood-based materials and products were certified in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council’s Principles and Criteria.

            For more information, visit www.spcollege.edu/sustainability.


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American Stage Theatre supporters tour new space
TampaBay.com, June 7

American Stage gets an improved theater
HeraldTribune.com, June 7

American Stage’s sparkling Act II
TampaBay.com, June 4

American Stage reflects as it prepares to move into new space at SPC
TampaBay.com, April 26

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