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The Telling Project: Veterans tell their stories of war experiences

Given that only 1 percent of the U.S. population has served in the military over the last dozen years of war, it may be hard for many to understand or relate to the experiences and struggles many veterans encounter. The Florida Humanities Council, based in St. Petersburg, and Tampa’s WEDU PBS TV are working to change this.

“Veterans: The Telling Project” is the result. It’s a TV documentary that follows six Tampa Bay area veterans and one military spouse who participated in an innovative theater project, providing intimate insight into individual challenges.

The documentary, which debuted last week in Tampa, will air again on Veteran’s Day, Wednesday, November 11, at 8 p.m. on WEDU+ which corresponds to Channel 605 on Brighthouse/476 Verizon/203 Comcast -- and throughout the week on other Florida PBS channels. Check your local TV listings. The program will air nationwide beginning in January.

“Veterans are coming back with injuries and issues and are feeling isolated because the general population is unaware,” says Barbara O’Reilley, Communications Director of the Florida Humanities Council. The Tampa Bay Telling Project, she says “is a way to bridge the communication gap between veterans and the population at large – tell their experiences directly to the communities.”

The Telling Project is a national performing arts nonprofit that “employs theater to deepen our understanding of the military and veterans’ experience.” Founded in 2008 by Jonathan Wei, the project was brought to Florida by the Florida Humanities Council (FHC), which hopes to expand the project to several cities in the state. Pensacola, which is home to a large veteran population, was picked for a second performance, which is currently underway.

Through an intensive interview process, Wei extracts the veterans’ stories and crafts a scripted play using their own words; the veterans also serve as the actors. The result is a deeply personal account of their military experiences and ongoing struggles, laid all the more bare because none of the Tampa Bay area veterans had ever performed on stage before. The Tampa Bay Telling Project plays took place this past spring around the region and included talk-back sessions afterward. 

Unique to the Tampa project is that FHC was able to partner with WEDU and chronicle the process of the project -- from creating the story to building performers -- in documentary form, accessible to all via public television.

Though FHC is a statewide organization, O’Reilley says they piloted the program locally  “so we could really be hands on.” She notes that the Tampa Bay region was ideal for the project with Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, a huge multi-generational veterans community and access to “great stage theater venues” in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

“Every single one [of the performances] received standing ovations,” says O’Reilley. She notes that the talk-back sessions were often as powerful, oftentimes with members of the audience saying, " 'I am a veteran and that happened to me, too, and it makes me feel better that I am not alone'.'' 

Temple Terrace Arts & Crafts Festival, Nov. 7-8

Run into any random pieces of photography lately, with a “take me, I’m free” note attached?   

Could be one of the 25 pieces of “abandoned” art strategically placed throughout the Tampa Bay area in a clever marketing effort by the Temple Terrace Arts Council to promote their 42nd annual Arts & Crafts Festival taking place this weekend -- 10 a.m- 4 p.m. -- November 7-8, 2015 at the seven-acre Greco Event Field in Temple Terrace.  Admission and parking are free.

“It’s a fun day that is free, family friendly, and it’s all about art,” says Kim Straub who spearheads the marketing efforts and organization of the festival. “The festival is kind of one of those well-kept secrets, and this year we are really trying to expand beyond Temple Terrace.” She says this is keeping with the all-volunteer Council’s mission statement, “to bring art to the community and beyond.” She notes that last year in a sampling they found attendance included 78 zip codes, including 13 from out of state, and over 7,000 attendees.

In addition to the 55 artist’s and crafter’s booths, food trucks and live entertainment, there are interactive arts activities to engage children and adults alike.  

Tampa-based artist Terry Klaaren (creator of the Recyclosaurus at the MOSI) will host demonstrations of painting “en plein air” techniques.  A display of 30 works of art by area elementary schoolchildren will be on exhibit and a dedicated kids arts area, “Fresh Impressionists,” will be available which will also include culinary activities scheduled throughout the day, provided by Farm 2 School.

For the first time, a “Public Pollock” collaborative art project will take place inviting people “of all ages and skill levels” to apply paint. 

“When you are involved with putting paint on the canvass – and that is what Jackson Pollock was all about – you become one with the paint and the painting,” says Straub. “It’s a different way of looking at art.”  The abstract expressionist masterpiece is slated to become a traveling exhibit after the festival.

Another “big draw”: a free raffle to win $250 Saturday, $500 Sunday toward a “festival shopping spree” for adults. Children can enter two drawings to win free art kits filled will paints and supplies.  Winners will be announced at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively. 

For more information on the 42nd Temple Terrace Arts & Crafts Festival, click here

Consider Water highlights sustainability message through the arts

“Consider Water” debuting in Tampa at Hillsborough County Community College (HCC) Mainstage Theatre in Ybor City this weekend, October 30-31 at 7:30 p.m., is a performance at the intersection of art and environment.

Acclaimed New York-based dancer/choreographer and activist Davalois Fearon will perform the collaborative piece, which combines dance with original music and visual art, to raise awareness about issues that most concern her, in this case, water. 

“It isn’t just about arts and dance, but getting in front of some of the current issues going on right now,” says Angela Walters, HCC’s Community Relations and Marketing Manager. “We live in Tampa Bay -- and our available, clean water is something that we have to start thinking about.”

According to the United Nations Clean Water Facts, nearly 800 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Six million to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases. 

“Even here in the United States, 40 percent of the rivers and 46 percent of the lakes are polluted and are considered unhealthy for swimming, fishing or aquatic life,” notes Fearon.

The dance program at HCC, which Walters describes as “very, very, active,” regularly brings in artists from around the country to work with students onsite. However, Walters points out, HCC is also committed to sustainability and Fearon’s visit will serve to bridge the dance and science/sustainability departments through a series of workshops and discussion surrounding the performance. Fearon will also hold auditions early in the week for students to take part of Consider Water’s ensemble. 

“We are always looking for different ways to connect with other audiences and makes them think,” says Walters.  “The arts are something that connects individuals, a different medium, a creative way -- it’s showing them in an aspect that they can connect to.” 

The performance is open to the public with $10 general admission. All HCC students, faculty and staff are admitted free of charge with valid ID. For more information, click here.

Kickstarter campaign launches for Florida conservation

Less than 10 days before the controversial hunt for Florida’s barely-off-the-endangered-species-list-black bear begins, the Florida Wildlife Corridor will launch its Kickstarter campaign Thursday, Oct. 15th, to promote its new film and forthcoming book, The Forgotten Coast: The Return to Wild Florida, based on months of expeditions inspired by the Florida black bear’s journeys through the interior of the state.  

“[The Florida Wildlife Corridor] is hiding in plain sight -- we are all situated on the coast looking outward, and maybe forget about Florida heartlands,” says Florida Wildlife Corridor Executive Director Mallory Dimmitt who is spearheading the project and the expeditions behind it. She notes that there is an urgency to conservation and awareness as Florida’s population is estimated to reach 35 million by 2060. “We can still maintain wild Florida and all the creatures that rely on it as Florida grows.” 

The Florida Wildlife Corridor is both the name of the environmental advocacy organization as well as the term used to describe the territory it is dedicated to conserving: nearly 16 million acres of “lands and waters essential for the survival of Florida’s diverse wildlife” – including the 9.5 million acres already protected – that span the length and width of the state. 

The Forgotten Coast documentary is gleaned from the thousands of hours of footage taken during two Florida Wildlife Corridor expeditions traversing Florida undertaken by Dimmitt, wildlife Photographer Carlton Ward, Biologist Joe Guthrie, and Filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus on foot, bike and paddle. The idea, says Dimmitt, was to “explore wild Florida the way a bear or a panther could still travel through our state.” She says she hopes the film “inspires people to protect our quality of life, for all of Florida.”

During the first expedition in 2012, the team trekked more than 1,000 miles in 100 days from south-to-north, starting in the Everglades and finishing in the south of Georgia. From January to March of this year, the east-to-west expedition took the team from the Everglades Headwaters to the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the Florida Panhandle. 

The Kickstarter campaign will run until Friday Nov 20th, the day after the broadcast premiere of the film. The urgency to raise funds is critical and ambitious for the organization as Kickstarter is all-or-nothing crowdfunding, dependent on reaching the target fundraising goal of $37,000.  

The film’s exclusive broadcast premiere will air November 19th on WUSF-TV with a premiere event the week prior at the Tampa Theatre.  The new funds will allow the organizers to raise awareness and promote the film to PBS channels and film festivals around the country. 

Radio show podcast program teaches Tampa teens digital entrepreneurship

Local Tampa Bay area teenagers have the chance to learn about digital radio programming and podcast creation during a seven-week class at the Hillel Academy in Carrollwood.

Tampa Bay-based non-profit Forward Thinking Initiatives (FTI), in partnership with Life Improvement Radio, is teaching local students who range from 5th through 12th grades how to start their own radio podcast program at the Teen Radio Show: The Digital Entrepreneur program.

Students are learning “everything they need to know to create their own podcast program, including how to create scripts for actual guest interviews, how to use the technology, understanding how to finance their own show, how to create ads and sponsors, and how to interview exciting guests,” says FTI founder Debra Campbell.

Campbell hopes to see students take the skills they learn in the Teen Radio Show program, which began in mid-September and runs through mid-November, and apply them to other interests. 

“When young people think about starting their own business, they typically don't think to begin with their own passions and interests,” she explains. “Although all of our programs are under the umbrella of entrepreneurship and innovation, we frequently theme the programs to appeal more to the young people we work with.”

During the seven week digital entrepreneurship workshop, students learn about:
  • Technology used to create podcasts
  • Conducting an interview
  • Developing and writing scripts for guest interviews
  • Financing a radio show
  • Creating ads and sponsors for the show
  • Interviewing live guests on the air
Podcast programs created by students in the classes will run on Life Improvement Radio.

“What I hope the students will gain from the experience is a ‘no fear approach’ to learning something totally new, or even a bit intimidating,” Campbell says. 

Parents might just learn something, too: “Last time we ran the program, many parents stayed for the classes as well,” Campbell explains. “We welcome parents! It fosters great dinner conversations at home.”  
The two-month-long program takes place weekly on Friday evenings at the Hillel Academy in Carrollwood neighborhood of Tampa. 

Students in the Teen Radio program are "gaining entrepreneurial skills such as budgeting, how to finance their programs and how to market them,” Campbell says, “but my hope is this will be the kind of learning kids gain when they get a new game that they want to learn how to play. They don't think about the learning, they just jump in.”

FTI aims to engage young students in after-school programs that focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and creative thinking. A recent FTI program hosted at the St. Petersburg Greenhouse taught students from local Artz4Life Academy about helicopter design and innovative thinking. FTI programs and partners such as the Greenhouse and the John F. Germany Library have earned accolades including the Kauffman Foundation Platinum Award and The Freedoms Foundation Leavey Award for Private Enterprise Education.


Tampa JCC engages community, writers in Books & Conversations Festival

Tampa’s Jewish Book Festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary, is bringing in authors from the national stage as well as showcasing local authors in its two week “Books & Conversations” Festival that kicks off October 18, 2015. The festival is open to the public and most of the events take place at the Tampa Jewish Community Center located at 13009 Community Campus Drive near Citrus Park Mall. 

“We are offering experiences, not just a chance to hear an author talk about their book,” says Jewish Books & Conversation Committee Chair Debbie Doliner who says that in addition to promoting Jewish literature, the festival aims to engage attendees and the authors in conversation. 

“We don’t want just ‘readers’ — this is open to the entire Tampa Bay community,’’ Dominer says. “There is always great food and drink and some other interesting aspect.” 

Many of the authors write on Jewish themes, such as Washington-based Sarah Wildman’s award-winning Paper Love, Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind who discovered in her grandfather’s love letters and her subsequent research, the story of his escape from pre-World War II Europe and the lover he left behind. Dan Ephron, former Jerusalem Bureau Chief for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, explores the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and its continuing impact in Killing A King, The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel. Local author Lynda Lippman-Lockhart’s book, The Laundry Room, brings to life the true story of the clandestine ammunitions factory run by young Israelis to arm its troops at the end of the British occupation in the late 1940s. 

Other themes are more universal – tickets are selling fast for author Judith Viorst’s luncheon at Maggiano’s. Viorst’s diverse writing ranges from newspaper to children’s books –- you may recognize Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day which sold over 2 million copies and was made into a Disney comedy last year -- to adult fiction and nonfiction. She is also slated as a highly entertaining personality and poet and to that end will discuss her latest book Wait For Me and Other Poems About the Irritations and Consolations of a Long Marriage. 

Joshua Braff, author of the The Daddy Diaries and until recently a Tampa Bay resident, and local author Barbara Post-Askin  who wrote Reflections of Liberty, A Memoir will also be presenting during the festival. 

Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation; reservations are recommended. 

James Rosenquist donates art for raffle at FIVE by FIVE in Tampa

The Arts Council of Hillsborough County is hosting its one-of-a-kind FIVE by FIVE art sale and fundraising event, now in its fourth year, at the Tampa Museum of Art on Friday, October 16, 2015 at 8 p.m. There is a $10 admission fee which includes access to TMA’s fall exhibition, XTO+J-C: Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

New this year is a donation by popular American Artist James Rosenquist, a “protagonist in the pop-art movement,” whose very large scale work and exhibitions have graced some of the most important museums in the world including the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the MoMA in New York, and many others. 

Rosenquist’s signed artist proof entitled “The Meteor Hits Picasso’s Bed” is a 11’’ x 14’’ black photogravure monoprint and is the twelfth of only 28 artist’s proofs. Clayton Galleries in Tampa donated the framing of the piece.

“Instead of auctioning it, we are going to raise money with this print through a raffle -- keeping the same philosophy, making it democratic,” says Terri Simons, Director of Program Services at the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and organizer of the event. Raffle tickets for the Rosenquist piece will go for $25.

The FIVE by FIVE event is in many ways “artists helping artists” notes Simons, as artists donate original artwork, the proceeds of which fund the Council’s individual artist grants and workshop programs. This concept, she says, is what inspired Rosenquist’s donation. She says that in addition to the exposure and prestige artists receive by participating in the event, the FIVE by FIVE also aims to “enable those who might not usually buy original art to start collecting and thereby benefit artists beyond this one-night event.” 

The FIVE by FIVE theme entwines itself throughout the event as nearly 600 pieces of 5”x 5” art created from a wide range of media -- and submitted from around the world -- will be on display for sale, at $25 per piece. The artwork is displayed anonymously, without the artist’s name being visible, to encourage buyers to choose the work on its appeal only, and not whether the artist is well-established. 

Local professionals in theater, dance, music and spoken word will perform in five- to 15-minute increments throughout the event in the FIVE by FIVE “Lounge” located in the Stephen Dickey Lecture Hall at the Tampa Museum of Art, set up with a club-like atmosphere with lighting, seating and bar for the evening. 

The complete list of performers is still shaping up, but attendees can look forward to The Kuumba Dancers, Lucha Libro Tampa Bay, Monday, Monday, Shoes at the Door, Soho Indigo and Yellowish Blue & Pink among others.

For more information, click here.

Design Week art installations to transform Selmon Greenway

A pop-up festival, art installations along the Selmon Greenway and design-inspired events throughout the local region are all part of the expanded Tampa Bay Design Week in October 2015.

“As our urban core continues to grow and we discuss issues of mobility, it is critical to engage the public in a conversation about design's impact on our daily lives,” explains Design Week chair Kim Headland.

Interested parties are welcome to attend a design charrette session on September 25 and join a team, Headland says. After that session, teams will begin the process of building and displaying their final installation along the Selmon Greenway path, which opened in spring 2015.

Already, teams include members from an array of design disciplines, such as architects, landscape architects, graphic artists, artists, photographers, planners, interior designers and students. Those interested in the role that public art plays in the local community may want to join.

Design charrettes are “an opportunity for guided brainstorming” for teams to begin developing concepts around the TBDW theme, 'Mobility and Connectivity','' explains Headland, a member of event sponsor American Institute of Design Architects.

Topics for consideration include:
  • What design elements will encourage pedestrian activity?
  • How does design and art impact our daily routines in the city?
  • What role does tactical urbanism play in our downtown community?
  • How can design influence the experience along the Greenway and make it "uniquely Tampa"?
  • What is the future potential of our City's under-utilized areas?
  • How can design elements and space adjacent, positively impact the greenway?
  • How can design promote economic growth and development along pedestrian paths?
  • How do historic events and places impact future design on a variety of scales?
The main objective of Design Week is “to promote the importance of design to the broader community, while engaging the community in relevant conversations about how design shapes our built environment,” Headland explains.

The Design Week team hopes to accomplish that goal by demonstrating the impact of design on local community through temporary art installations by the design teams, which will be placed along the Selmon Greenway, between the Tampa Riverwalk and Jefferson Street.

Headland hopes to see the designs “engage festival goers in thinking about 'Mobility and Connectivity,’ specifically along the Greenway.”

Events for TBDW will begin October 9 and conclude with a “Made in the Shade" event and a pop-up festival on October 17th.

The free, family-friendly pop-up fest is set to coincide with Tampa’s Streetcar Fest on the same day. The TBDW lineup has also expanded to include stops in St. Petersburg: a Dining by Design event, and a panel discussion with Rogers Partners Architects and ASD about the new St. Pete Pier designs.  

“Tampa Bay Design Week brings together designers, enthusiasts, leaders and citizens to celebrate, inspire, showcase and grow Tampa Bay’s creative community,” Headland says.

For a full schedule of events or to learn more about the Sept. 25 design charrette, visit the Tampa Bay Design Week website

Top comedian returns home to Tampa to perform

Ranked as one of the 50 greatest stand-up comedians by shareranks.com, Tampa native Steven Lolli is bringing his High Class Poverty comedy tour to the Carrollwood Cultural Center September 18 at 8 p.m. Hand-picked by Lolli, up-and-coming comedians Tyler Horvath and Tarik Lewis, also locals, will open and emcee the two-hour show in the heart of Carrollwood.

Lolli, a graduate of Gaither High School, moved to Los Angeles in search of comedic success and began earning his underground status as the only Jewish comedian in black comedy clubs in south L.A. in early 2002.  His brand of comedy is described on his website as “controversial,” “dirty,” “foul-mouthed” and “sexual” and has garnered acclaim by some of the most important faces in comedy today, collaborating with the likes of Katt Williams and headlining for an awards benefit honoring Lily Tomlin, Jane Lynch and the President of HBO. Lolli’s video “Yoga Ho” may give you some insight into his sense of humor.

Steven Lolli is “a bit of a grittier comic, a little bit edgier than what we typically have programmed,” says Adrienne Hutelmyer, Marketing & Community Relations Director at the Carrollwood Cultural Center, which hosted him successfully last year as well. She notes that the Center offers “something for everyone -- audiences like to go to a comedy show. They are very loyal and laughing is good for everybody.” 

Hutelmyer says the Cultural Center has been offering different kinds of comedy shows for over four years, which has proven popular. Girls Night Out is next on their comedic agenda featuring comedians Catherine Maloney, Traci “The Princess of Parodies” Kanaan and Aniria. 

For more information or tickets for the shows, follow this link.

Tampa Museum of Art hosts high fashion to raise awareness of domestic violence

Tampa Bay area fashionistas will unite at the Tampa Museum of Art (TMA) to see the acclaimed New York City-based designer Zang Toi’s spring 2016 collection, Saturday, September 19 in a runway event that kicks off at 7pm.  The fashion show, the sixth annual CITY: Fashion+Art+Culture, is a collaboration between the Tampa Museum of Art and its new partner this year Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota.   

Zang Toi, a celebrated designer championed from early in his career by U.S. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, has won national awards for his designs and has been repeatedly featured in fashion and mainstream media -- from Vogue and Vanity Fair to The New York Times, among many others.

“Zang Toi is very excited about the Tampa Museum of Art as the venue to showcase his Spring 2016 collection for the very first time following his recent show at the New York Fashion Week this last weekend,” commented Sally Schule, Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota’s Director of Marketing.

“Making the arts accessible to everyone is a priority for the Tampa Museum of Art,” says Robin C. Sharp, Museum Trustee and Chair of CITY 2015. TMA spokeswoman Nancy Kipnis says that in addition to bringing  “a fresh approach to fashion and one-of-a-kind entertainment” to downtown Tampa, the event is a fundraiser benefiting the Museum’s exhibition and education programming. Last year the event raised $116,000.

Kipnis notes that this year and through the support of presenting sponsor Verizon Wireless, the event aims to create awareness in the fight against domestic violence. “Throughout the evening, messages of inspiration to domestic violence survivors striving for the freedom and confidence to stand out and express themselves can be shared by tagging event photos throughout the evening with #StandOutWithVZW,” says Kipnis.
Organizers warn the event sells out every year. For ticket information, follow this link to CITY: Fashion + Art + Culture

Celebrating the art of storytelling in Tampa Bay

Stories told through dance, photography, song, documentary and theater performances will be celebrated at the second annual Story Days in Tampa Bay from Sept. 8-12.

Presented by Your Real Stories, a nonprofit organization headed by co-artistic directors Lillian Dunlap and Jaye Sheldon, Story Days offers an “opportunity for people to tell and hear stories in all kinds of ways,” says Dunlap.

An affiliate member at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg and CEO of Communication Research Enterprises, Dunlap says, “Stories have an ability to cut across previously impenetrable barriers and divisions to reach people. They have a magical power.” 

Another one of Dunlap and Sheldon’s ongoing projects is St. Pete Stories featured earlier in 83 Degrees.  

The featured event at this year’s Story Days in Tampa Bay is the screening of a powerful documentary Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China

The film will be shown at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg on Sept. 9 and at the University of South Florida School of Music Concert Hall on Sept. 10. In the documentary, Paula Madison, former GM and President of KNBC in Los Angeles and former news Director and VP for diversity at NBC in New York, recounts her search for her ancestry, which she traces back to Jamaica and before that, China, where her family’s tree goes back 3,000 years – 153 generations.

Several of her Chinese family members live in Tampa.  

“I’ve known Paula since the 1990s and she has wanted to tell her family’s story for many years,” says Dunlap.

Madison’s narrative begins with the story of her grandfather, Samuel Lowe, a Chinese laborer who immigrated to Jamaica in 1905. He fathered several children and then returned to China decades later. Madison’s mother, who was his oldest child, was three years old when he left. She never saw him again and always felt the loss.  

After retiring from NBC in 2011, Madison decided to begin the search for her grandfather, eventually finding her ancestral village in Shenzen, China. She reunited with hundreds of relatives who had not known about the existence of their extended family in the U.S.

Additional storytelling events during Story Days include an opening night reception on September 8 at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum www.woodsonmuseum.org in St. Petersburg. The museum will host a photography exhibition titled: My Soul Looks Back: The Decades of Day Work. 

Both archival photos and original portraits by Tampa Bay Times Director of Photography Boyzell Hosey will document the life of local domestic day workers – the African-American maids – and the white families that employed them during the time period from the 1930s through the 1970s.  

Photography and storytelling will also be highlighted at The Florida Holocaust Museum through another archival photography exhibition, This Light of Ours:  Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement. That exhibit will be on display Sept. 8 through Dec. 1.

The power of storytelling through dance will be showcased in I Remember the Days. USF graduate Vanessa Vargas has choreographed two dance movements, one based on her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease, and the other on the grief she experienced after the death of her fiancée.

For a little lighter fare, a evening of Reggae and Stories will take place at the landmark Chattaways Restaurant in South St. Petersburg, and Bicycle Stories, sponsored by Shift StPete, a nonprofit advocate for bicyclists and pedestrians, invites the public to share personal stories about the joys of bike riding, including learning to ride a bike and favorite bike trips. 

For those interested in telling their own stories, Dunlap and Sheldon have invited digital media expert Andrew Thornhill to discuss the art of digital storytelling and the steps required for success.  He offers two presentations at the Poynter Institute and the USF Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications in Tampa.

Local storytelling expert, Paula Stahel, past president of the Association of Personal Historians, will present a workshop offering tips on who to write your own memoir.

For more information about Story Days, including where to purchase tickets, send an email here, call 727-432-1602 or go to the Your Real Stories website.

Tampa exhibit features photos of sealife, oceans

Something fishy is going on in downtown Tampa.  

Marvels of the Reef opens Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA). The exhibit was produced in collaboration with the Florida Aquarium and runs through the end of the year. 

The collection, which showcases “mysteries of the sea” by seven international photographers whose work has appeared in National Geographic, is also intended to highlight the importance of environmental protection and environmental studies, a theme of relevance to the Tampa Bay community. 

“We are surrounded by water, which is important for every aspect of day-to-day life, [yet] it can be overlooked how important our bay is in Tampa,” says FMoPA executive director Zora Carrier. The exhibit, she says, “places the viewer at the scene of interaction; the images emphasize the spectacles of deep sea life and appreciation for aquatic nature.”   

“It’s an honor to partner with the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts on this exhibit,” Thom Stork, president and CEO of The Florida Aquarium said in a press release. “Through this exhibit, our community has yet another way to revel in the beauty of the ocean and hopefully become inspired to protect this very important asset.” 

A portion of the show’s proceeds will go toward the Florida Aquarium’s conservation efforts including the rescue and rehabilitation of animals.

About a five-minute drive from the Aquarium in the Channel District, The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, is located inside the Cube next to the Sykes building in the waterfront arts district in downtown Tampa. It is one of fewer than 10 museums in the United States dedicated exclusively to photography and one of two such museums in Florida.

Carrier says the two museums are working on putting together a weekend to give free admission to members of the opposite organization. 

Local actors put on 2nd festival in downtown Tampa

Drawing on its debut success last year and added star power, the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival is calling on area actors and theatre enthusiasts to attend the three-day event Sept. 4-6, 2015.

Festival events will take place at the Straz downtown, Stageworks Theatre in Grand Central at Kennedy in the Channel District and at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Ybor Main Stage. The Festival is packed with original plays and workshops, including quite a coup for such a new festival: master acting class with Broadway, TV actor/director and NBC’s Blacklist co-star Harry Lennix.  

“My goal is to empower the local actor,” says Festival Founder Rory Lawrence, a Tampa resident who founded his own theatre companies, RQL Productions and RL Stage, about six years ago and will present his latest comedy, “Hour Confessions,’’ at the opening events of the festival. Lawrence says he started the festival here because he had attended theatre festivals in other parts of the country, and realized, “Man, we don’t have a festival here!” 

He believed local theatre actors needed more support and networking opportunities. “There are so many actors here that don’t know how or where to go,” says Lawrence.

With much nail-biting leading up to last year’s first Tampa Bay Theatre Festival given the event’s meager pre-sales, he was thrilled when, by his most conservative estimate, more than 1,200 people attended, with several events sold out. “Plays were packed, workshops filled.” Lawrence says this year, they have expanded and are hoping to double attendance.

Thanks to the venue sponsors and the event’s premier sponsor, local law firm Maney Gordon, the festival is reasonably priced and accessible – with professionally taught workshops priced at $10, or $45 gets you into all of them throughout the weekend with discounts for other activities (the Lennix master class is charged separately). Several events are free of charge. 

In addition to the workshops and networking, there will be short- and long-form playwriting contests taking place as well as a monologue contest. Five full-length original plays written by local playwrights will be presented over the course of the weekend. Winners will be announced at the concluding awards ceremony, which is already sold out, though Lawrence may open more seats closer to the event. 

Advance tickets to the festival may be purchased through its website

Tampa International Airport issues worldwide call for artists

Artists from around the world have the opportunity to showcase their talents as part of Tampa International Airport’s $953-million, multi-year upgrade. TIA and Hillsborough County’s Aviation Authority Board will award contracts to 12 artists for art pieces to display throughout the refurbished airport.

“The new public artwork is an essential part of the upgrades,” says TIA Communications Manager Danny Valentine. “We strongly believe that public art will enhance and enrich the experience for the more than 17 million guests who visit our airport every year.”

The call for artists comes in a year when the airport jumped from No. 3 to No. 2 in the Airport Service Quality Awards, and began construction on extensive upgrades that are expected to be completed by 2017.

TIA will issue a call to artists on Monday, August 17, but interested parties can begin building an online CaFÉ portfolio now at CallForEntry.org. The deadline for submissions is Monday, September 14.

Many types of art will be considered, from sculpture to hanging art.

“We have intentionally left the call open to all visual artists so as to get a robust and wide range of forms of artwork,” Valentine says. “The choice of artwork will be up to the Public Art Committee.”

The committee, which will judge submitted work and make a final artist recommendation to the Aviation Authority Board, includes the following members of the Tampa Bay community:
  • Former Aviation Authority Board member Ken Anthony
  • Seth D. Pevnick, Chief Curator and Richard E. Perry Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Tampa Museum of Art
  • Kent Lydecker, Museum Director at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
  • Margaret Miller, Professor and Director at the University of South Florida
  • Robin Nigh, Public Art Manager with the City of Tampa
  • Dan Myers, Public Art Coordinator with Hillsborough County
  • Joe Lopano, Airport Chief Executive Officer
  • Chris Minner, Airport Vice President of Marketing
  • Jeff Siddle, Airport Assistant Vice President of Planning & Development
  • Paul Ridgeway, Airport Director of Maintenance.
TIA’s committee will select up to 12 finalists and present the artists to the board for “final approval and contract award,” Valentine explains.

The Tampa airport’s public art inventory is valued at $11 million, with art from over 30 different collections distributed throughout the airport’s many public spaces. Common themes include the Tampa Bay area and aviation, but decades of artworks from international and local artists combine to give the airport’s collection a wide range. In one baggage claim area, 22 tapestries woven by 20 women from Swaziland, Africa, hang as both an art display and an improvement on acoustics; a flower sculpture that weighs over 1,000 pounds hangs in one airside. A set of murals by a local St. Petersburg artist, George Snow Hill, dates back to 1939.  

Interested in adding your artwork to the collection? Criteria for artist submissions include:
  • A statement of interest that articulates the Artist’s, or Artist Team’s, desire to participate.
  • A resume (one resume per artist team), emphasizing experience in public art and working with public agencies.
  • Confirmation that Artist has completed a commission or sold, at a minimum, one piece of artwork at a value of at least $15,000
  • No more than 10 images that fairly represent the Artist’s, or Artist Team’s, body of work.
  • Three references for recently completed projects.
Local, state, national and international artists will be considered. Interested artists who have not met the minimum qualifications may enter the competition as an Artist Team by collaborating with another artist to submit an application.

To learn more, visit the TIA Call for Artists page or the Public Art program website.

Businesses and the arts align for Tampa streetcar

Twenty to thirty 4-foot streetcar sculptures will be painted by local artists paired with Tampa Bay business sponsors in a collaborative public works initiative slated for installation this Fall.  

Spearheading the project is Commercial Real Estate Women Tampa Bay (CREW), a business networking organization comprised of 130 local members, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in Tampa in 2016. Under a program it calls artLOUD!, the streetcar initiative will be CREW’s fourth public works project, which have included public sculpture and facade mural initiatives in downtown Tampa. 

CREW Tampa Bay is committed to bringing art to Tampa to create a sense of place, encourage tourism, beautify and make our city streets more vibrant for the community,” says Kristin Mora, a real estate attorney with the Pettit Worrell law firm. Mora is a member of CREW and co-chairs its artLOUD! Program. 

Artists from the Greater Tampa Bay region who submit their credentials will be considered for selection by the area businesses sponsoring the streetcar sculptures and will work together in creating individual concepts. 

Public works of this nature have been a trend around the country, but Mora says that she hopes that using streetcars as the subject matter will have a compounded impact for Tampa. Not only is the streetcar part of Tampa’s history and heritage, but she envisions the possibility of people using the downtown streetcars as a mode to tour and view the artworks themselves. 

“This is a step further for promoting the streetcar,” says Mora, adding that she hopes the project will “gain attention and ridership for the streetcar.” 

To date, more than 20 sponsors have been confirmed including The Dohring Group; Construction Services of Tampa; Cushman & Wakefield; Tampa Downtown Partnership; Coppertail Brewing/Pepin Distributing; Channelside District Community Redevelopment Area; Tampa Housing Authority, and CREW Tampa Bay. 

Yacht Starship, the dining cruise line that docks in Channelside and in Clearwater, proposed the concept to CREW and will host the preview party in October 2015 when the sculptures will be revealed. The sculptures will be installed in downtown Tampa, the Channel District and Ybor City. They will be subject to city approval and, according to Mora, the exact locations may also be influenced by the design of the streetcars themselves.
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