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Art Snax: Woodturn a mead goblet, and other art events on local menu

Father’s Day is coming up and if your Dad is anything like mine, he’s extremely hard to buy for. But what is one of his life passions? You betcha, it’s beer. Instead of getting him a lame tie this year, why not woodturn your own beer/mead/beverage-of-choice goblet (fit for a BBQ king) with him on June 24 at the Florida School of Woodwork with Rudy Lopez?

“They are just fun things to do, so that’s why we’ve been calling them our Sunday Fundays, which get people introduced to the fun hobby of turning on a lathe. There a lot of things you can do, like plates and cups, and of course, beer goblets. It’s an easy hobby to get into because it doesn’t take up a whole lot of space or use a lot of tools. This is something you could do on your balcony or a little corner in your garage, so we wanted to give people the opportunity to do it in a really fun way,” says Kate Swann, executive director of the Florida School of Woodwork.

To make a goblet, what’s called a “blank” is put on the lathe. You start out making the cup part of it, using gouges to hollow out the middle of it before working on the outside of it. The goblets are about 4-5 inches by the end of the class, and they all come out uniquely yours. While they aren’t dishwasher safe, there are a few ways to seal the inside of them from torching the surface to adding a sealer.

Probably one of the best parts is you get to test it out next door at Garagiste Meadery right after. It’s clearly a win-win situation, but if alcoholic beverages aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other upcoming beginner classes to check out too.

“One of the things I’m doing now is working on the calendar for the rest of the year, so we will be including more Sunday Funday things like a beer mug or carving a spoon. These will be really fun classes were people can just come and play,” Swann says.

“Generally speaking, the demographics of the school are 40 percent female, 60 percent male. The age is between 23-65 for women, and older for the men -- 28-70 years old. We have all different professions: brain surgeons, teachers, and firemen. The bottom line is, people realize are longing to have something to do with their head and hands together. My belief is that evolution has given us a 3-pound brain, opposable thumbs, and heart -- and those things love moving together. This is why making anything is a really fun thing to do, and is so satisfying. With these classes, there isn’t a big barrier to woodworking.”

Other upcoming art events:

• Flaccid-barreled rifles and tasseled, bulbous American flags. … Who knew soft, plush sculptures could become weapons for political and social criticism? Open through June 16, “Power Play” at Cunsthaus features the soft sculptures of Natalie Baxter, a Brooklyn-based artist.

• Get ready for some summer jam sessions: on June 7, the Rock the Park free concert series at Curtis Hixon Park starts at 6:30 p.m. with bands including The Porch Sessions, Nathanael Hyer & The Rail Car Choir, and Danielle Mohr. 

• With the Dali Museum over in St. Pete, we tend to like our art a little weird in this town. Relish in the beautiful, surreal, but a bit bizarre films of Suzan Pitt on June 8 with the screening of three of her animated shorts -- “Asparagus,” “Joy Street,” and “El Doctor” -- hosted by Cinematheque Ybor at The Bunker from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

• Didn’t get enough of your inner weirdo out at during the screenings of Suzan Pitt (see event above) at The Bunker? You’re in luck because on June 13, the Second Screen Cult Cinema will be showing “Fantastic Planet” (1973) from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Never heard of it? Here’s a little sampling

• When you think about art collections of major institutions, it can be a little sad to think about all the beautiful artworks that are nestled away safely, but out of view of the public. In a huge effort to address that, USF CAM’s new exhibition “Restricted – Hidden Gems from the USF Collection” will be bringing artwork -- from the likes of Claes Oldenburg, John Cage, Lynda Benglis, Mernet Larsen, and many more -- out of the darkness. I know I have some burning questions to ask (like, who makes decisions on what pieces to collect? Is there a theme to their collection?), which is why the best time to visit the CAM will be on June 14th during their curator tour from 6-8 p.m.

• If you’re a musician looking to network and learn more about the music business from other professionals, then the Tampa Music Conference on June 16 might be worth putting on your iCalendar. Not only will there be panel discussions, there will also be performances in the evening but registration is required.

• I know, school’s finally out so why would you want to go to another class? Nixing the ole’ grading system, this one will keep your attention more than Chem. 101: On June 16, learn the art of Shibori Japanese Indigo fabric dying at The Paper Seahorse. Registration required beforehand.

• Summer is the time where you have all this free time to do the things you want to do, then you find yourself bored once you have it. Why not check out Mergeculture’s linoleum block printing workshop on June 21 and also on June 24? Hack away at a block for a few hours, then leave with a printmaking masterpiece.

• Creatives Exchange is a collective of local women artists -- ranging from photographers, painters, ceramicists, filmmakers, and sculptors -- who will be exhibiting at HCC Ybor City Campus Art Gallery on June 28. Featuring the works of Paula Brett, Jenny Carey, Suzanne Camp Crosby, Kimberli Cummings, Melissa Fair, Eileen Goldenberg, Brenda Gregory, Cynthia Hennessy, Victoria Jorgensen, Candace Knapp, Kim Radatz, Debra Radke, Rose Rosen, and Suzanne Williamson, “Seeing Now” is an exhibition gathering insight on a contemporary woman’s perspective. The show will be up through July 31.

• With the 4th of July coming up, freshen up your history of America with “Pop Goes America: An American History Musical Revue!” by the Carrollwood Players Theatre. In a silly take on the pilgrims to the Civil War, this is a play the whole family can enjoy. Performances will be going on from June 29 to July 1.

New community-based grant program led by Arts Council of Hillsborough County

Many project-based grants given to arts organizations tend to be in centralized community hubs radiating from the downtown area, but what about the folks living on the outer edges of the county that might not have access to these programs?

Starting with the current Cultural Development Grants as a guideline, the Arts Council of Hillsborough County’s (ACHC) has pulled together a smaller sister program called the Community Arts Impact Grants (CAIG), which aim to bring the arts to underserved communities across Hillsborough County.

“Last year with our Cultural Development Grants program that has larger awards, we had a couple of organizations that were very small and applying for the first time without much experience,'' says Terri Simons, Director of Programs and Communications of the ACHC. "It became clear that there was a need for something that would help small organizations in the outer reaches of the county that had very worthy projects, and where it was easier to apply. We wanted something that would help incubate these programs so they could learn how to apply for grants while also noting that they have a different population to serve.”

Though this new CAIG grant is smaller, it’s still significant: Applicants can ask for up to $5,000 to support a specific arts- or culture-centered project, which could be anything from classes to murals or many other options.

The main prerequisite is that it brings these kinds of programs to areas of the county that don’t have immediate access to it (whether it be boundaries of geography, ethnicity, age, or disabilities) to bring inclusivity to the arts. Applications are due by Friday, July 13, at 4 p.m.

“The program could also serve veterans or people with special needs. Many parts of the county don’t have a formal cultural center building like Carrollwood, or the one in New Tampa they are currently working on. We’re hoping that organizations in underserved areas will be asking for grants. Applicants don’t necessarily have to be an arts or cultural nonprofit, but they could be. It could also be a neighborhood association partnering with an arts nonprofit,” Simons says.

The ACHC anticipates at least 24 of these grants to be dispersed, and they are hoping to soon have all parts of the grant process online.

Because smaller organizations are volunteer-run and might not have experience, an application workshop for both this CAIG Grant as well as the Cultural Development Grant will be held on Monday, May 21, from 10 a.m.-noon at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. Registration online at this link is required.

“This CAIG grant is pretty short and the application workshop will help applicants through that, as well as gathering more information about it. The workshop will cover both grants for cultural grants, but applicants cannot apply to both. There are different requirements for each program and this workshop will help organizations determine which one to apply to,” Simons says.

Nonprofit Grants Workshops are planned in two locations: May 21 at 10 a.m. in Ybor City; and May 30 at 10 am in Riverview. Registration is requested -- at TampaArts.org.

USF hosts New Grounds dance festival in Tampa

It started out as a modest but distinctive annual concert that gave young choreographers a chance to set their work on a professional stage. That was 17 years ago.

Now Moving Current’s New Grounds has evolved into a festival, with master classes and other ancillary events.

The centerpiece of the festival is still that performance of works by emerging choreographers. This year’s concert is scheduled for two performances this weekend.

Besides offering choreographers from around Florida the opportunity to stage their works, the New Grounds performances give local dance aficionados a chance to experience a wider breadth and variety of work.

“We put out a call for tapes,” says Cindy Hennessy, the Artistic Director of Moving Current, Tampa’s preeminent professional dance company. “Then we have a panel of dance professionals select the best six or eight or nine, depending on length.”

New Grounds has become increasingly prestigious and competitive over the years, so audiences can count on high-quality dance.

Besides the concert, the New Grounds Festival also includes a free event called “Show + Tell” that’s a little like an open-mic night for choreographers. Anyone who has created a dance work, or has a work in progress, can sign up to perform it and get feedback from other dancers, choreographers and fans of the art form.

The New Grounds Festival Performance is set for 8 p.m. Friday, May 12, and 2 p.m. the following day, Saturday, May 13, in Theatre 2 on the University of South Florida Tampa campus. Tickets for students and seniors are $15; all others are $20. You can get them at the door.

“Show + Tell”  event was Wednesday, May 10, at the USF Dance Department.

Call 813-237-0216 or go to the Moving Current website for more details.


Art Snax: OPUS art exhibition, and other art events on local menu for May

Let's have a round of applause for venues that not only don’t charge artists to submit entry fees, but they also don’t take a percentage of an artist’s sold works. The Tampa Covenant Church is doing just that with their 3rd year running their Opus art exhibition held on May 18 at 7 p.m., featuring local artists during a one-night pop-up show.
 
“This is our third year and it’s growing steadily each year. We came up with the idea for OPUS since the Tampa Covenant Church has always had a huge influx of artists, so it’s always been a part of the culture of this church. The building itself was created by Alfonso Architects to be a work of art itself with lots of space so we thought it would be a great idea to open it up to show artists. We want to support local artists with artists keeping all of the money from the sales of their work,” says Rich Van Voorst, Creative Director of OPUS.
 
With rows of gridwall for exhibiting works, different artists apply each year. There are even first, second, and third place prizes with generous support from Dick Blick Art Materials. Open to the public, guests will be treated to hors d’oeuvres and drinks. In the past, roughly 300-400 people have meandered through the exhibition to check out the art.
 
“We are happy to do this for the artists. You can actually talk to the artists so you can hear more about their work. Part of the work we see ourselves doing is bringing art back to the city,” Van Voorst says.“We want people to read and engage in art slowly, which isn’t as prominent here than it is in European and Asian cultures. “
 
Other art events in May:
 
Interested in public art and wanting to learn more about public art trends, how to engage audiences, and where the future of public art is headed? On May 2-4, join other public art enthusiasts during the Florida Association of Public Art Professionals Conference for lectures, discussions, and even a tour of the newest commissioned works at the Tampa International Airport. To attend the conference, you must register up online (prices vary), but there is a pre-conference session that is free and open to all. 

Ah, Spring. The time of the year where it feels like summer, but you only know because of the plethora of festivals sprouting up around town; and the Tampa International Fringe Festival is one of those blooms you want to seek out. As a ten-day performing arts festival that is spread out across venues throughout Ybor City, you’ll be treated with shows from comedy, rock musicals, magic shows, and much more. The festival runs May 3-12 and tickets can be purchased online.

There will be music (and tantalizing smells) in the air on May 4-5 during Tampa Riverfest at Curtis Hixon Park and other venues along the Riverwalk. Come for the bands, but stick around for the Weiner Dog Derby.

Cinco de Mayo might be Cinco de Spend-o for some. On May 5, Graphicstudio will be hosting its Benefit Sale and Open house from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., with the funds going toward Graphicstudio’s research and education programs. Some of their newest releases include Alex Katz, Duke Riley, Abel Barroso, Esterio Segura, Aya Tarek, Kalup Linzy, and Diana Al-Hadid.

GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS is a new show (no, not that kind of show) coming to The Bricks Ybor on May 12.  In a 3-woman exhibition showcasing the works of Ashley Cantero, SooJin Brown, and Cheryl Cabbat Weber, the doors will be open from 8 p.m. – 3 a.m.

From May 16-20, listen to some varied tunes at the Orange Blossom Jamboree Music and Art Festival at Sertoma Ranch in Brooksville. This festival features over 50 bands, many which hail across Florida cities. Stay overnight and see if you can score the honor of “Coolest Campsite” in their contest.

On May 17, Jefferson High School students will debut their work at USF CAM in their “A Wave of Change” exhibition. The Contemporary Art Museum reception will be from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., and will be on view through May 18. 

Don’t get FOMO: from May 18-20, the Carrollwood Players will be hosting their One Act Weekend with eight short never-before-seen plays. Tickets can be purchased online.

In a three-person show featuring the works of Melvin Halsey Jr., Indie Reece, and Christopher Clark, the exhibition Ancient Roots will be opening at MergeCulture (previously Illsol) in North Tampa on May 19. Though each artist works in a different medium ranging from paintings to digital to multi-media, there are connections to African and Caribbean culture that ties their work together.

Works on paper never seem to get the same credit as paintings, but starting on May 26, printmaking will get its due recognition.  On view through August 19, “From Muse and Myth to Figure and Gesture: 50 Years of Prints from the Permanent Collection” at the Tampa Museum of Art will restore power to the paper with selections from artists like Lisa Yuskavage, Jim Dine, Alex Katz, Max Neumann, Keith Haring, and Niki de St. Phalle.

Boat sculpture near Tampa Riverwalk oozes kinetic energy

There’s more to see than just the Hillsborough River during your jaunt down the Tampa Riverwalk. 

While you might see some kayaks, rowboats or electric boats floating on the river, you’ll find only one boat-as-public-sculpture greeting walkers at the entrance of NOVEL Riverwalk -- a developing apartment complex run by Crescent Communities, who commissioned this project. This 27-foot skeletal yacht frame, with bow sticking upright in the air proudly, has been dubbed "Charley'' by its creator Mark Aeling of MGA Sculpture Studio in St. Pete.

But who is Charley?
 
Charley Morgan of Morgan Yachts is a bit of a boat genius, having designed and built over 10,000 yachts through his lifetime; he’s 88 years old and has only just retired a few years back.
 
"I had met Charley through the St. Pete Artwalk, but I had heard his name before because he is very respected in the sailing community and internationally,'' Aeling says. "I was doing research on wooden boat hulls for this project and had a hunch Charley had more information. I found out he had worked on an amazing project 'Heritage' designed in the 1970s for the America's Cup [one of the biggest races in sailing]. It was an absolutely gorgeous boat.''

"Charley has an unbelievable breadth of experience, and I felt like the piece should be dedicated to his life’s work.''
 
As a self-taught engineer, Charley has led an exciting life from an early age: When he was 17, he entered a boating race that went from St. Pete to Cuba. He had to have special permission to race because the boat that he built in his own backyard didn’t have a motor. This ended up launching his career in becoming a specialist in hull design.
 
"Charley even helped consult on the structural engineering of the sculpture itself because the aluminum needs to sustain hurricane winds,'' Aeling adds.
 
Using the famous racing yacht "Heritage'' as inspiration, it took 4 months from concept to completion before it was installed in late March across from the Tampa Bay Times building near The Straz. It has similar aesthetics as MGA Sculpture Studio’s “Budding Vortex” sculpture that was also commissioned by Crescent Communities back in 2016 at the entrance of one of their communities on North Lois Ave.; they both have a kinetic sculpture quality with their blade-like construction.
 
"When you repeat forms in space, it creates a visual resonance and makes you want to move around the piece, so it's kinetic in a way in that it makes you move yourself in relation to the piece,'' Aeling says. "We wanted to create traction to draw people in and relate to that notion of the Riverwalk.''

NYT reports on investments in Downtown Tampa, Bay Area

Tampa's recent growth, including multibillion dollar investments in downtown and along the waterfront, are highlighted in a recent New York Times article, "How Developers Discovered Tampa's 'Best Kept Secret'.''

The publicity alone, not to mention the actual investments, are spurring growth unseen in Tampa since the late-1970s, early 1980s as witnessed by John Naisbitt in his book, "Megatrends.''

Read the complete story.
 

Art Snax: Represent, and other art events on local menu in April

Over the course of time, artists and galleries have been questioning the works being shown in exhibition spaces: What is determined as “art” or “fine art?” Is graphic design “art?” Why are ceramics sometimes deemed just “craft?” 

In a move considered more off-the-beaten-path, Cass Contemporary in Tampa will be presenting the works of illustrators in “Represent.”
 
“This is our first all-illustrators exhibit, so we’re really excited. With this show we picked illustrators that were experts in their craft, and the rest was up to them. We give them the artistic freedom to make whatever they want. The work is all different, so it’s been a surprise everyday when we get a package of work for the show,” says Janet Malin, Gallery Director of Cass Contemporary.
 
Eight artists will be participating with two of them local artists you may already know: Conrad Garner and Palehorse. National artists include Monica Garwood, Rewina Beshue, and Skye Bolluyt. International illustrators Hilda Palafox, Lorraine Sorlet, and Agostino Iacuri hail from Mexico, France, and Germany, respectively.
 
“What we’re doing is holding the opening night on April 27 at 7 p.m. at Armature Works in their theater, then the exhibit will run at the gallery (2722 S. MacDill Ave.) as usual where it will be up for 12 weeks,” Malin says. "Armature Works is a multi-use space. The part that everyone is hearing about is their food hall, but they also have a big courtyard, the theater that’s on the second floor, and an upscale rooftop lounge that will be opening up soon.”
 
The opening reception is free and open to the public with food, drinks, and a great crowd.
 
Other upcoming art events:
  • If you’re a fan of the handbuilt, a touch of kitsch, and a bit of the grotesque, don’t miss out on the next USF Kennedy Family Visiting Artist Lecture on April 3 from 4-5 p.m. at FAH 101. Roxanne Jackson is a ceramicist and sculptor who is interested in themes of extinction, death, and transformation, creating narrative-ish objects that riff off horror films and pop culture.
  • PhilFest hosted at the Phillipine Cultural Foundation will be coming back to town from April 6-8. Touted as the biggest Phillippine Festival in Florida, come see who will be dubbed Mrs. Philfest, check out the art exhibit at the Bayanihan Arts and Events Center’s Grand Sampaguita Ballroom, and we can’t forget the Yugyugan Street Dancing Competition. The full entertainment schedule can be found on the PhilFest website to plan ahead.
  • The Kitchen Table Literary Arts is sending out a call for Tampa-area Black women and women of color who are writers, poets, publishers, editors for a networking mixer on April 7 from 1-3 p.m. at Stageworks Theater.
  • Feelin’ jazzy? On April 9, Brain Rainwater and the Florida College Jazz Band will be dishing out tunes from jazz to swing to blues during their jazz concert at Florida College’s Puckett Auditorium from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • After merely watching a YouTube video of their America’s Got Talent performance, it’s clear Sons of Serendip has got that it factor. Don’t miss their April 12 performance at the Straz Center and get your tickets now.
  • Looking to support the local art scene, but also wanting an invite to a killer party? The Tampa Museum of Art has you covered with their Strange Beauty: Pride & Passion 13 fundraiser on April 14, which will have a surrealist spin this year.
  • During the University of Tampa Alumni Reader Series on April 17, Donna Long, Christian Collier, and Jen A. Miller will be coming back to their alma mater to read experts from their work at the Scarfone/Harley Gallery from 7-8 p.m.
  • Never heard of Carnival? It’s just one of those things you have to experience instead of explain. On April 21, the 13th Annual Tampa Bay Caribbean Carnival will be heading to the Florida State Fairgrounds for a day of dancing, music, colorful headpieces, and definitely a lot more.
  • As the school year winds to a close, USF will be presenting the opening reception for their BFA Thesis Exhibition “25 Cents Per Play” held at the Carolyn M. Wilson Gallery on April 27 from 7-9 p.m. The exhibition will be open from April 23-May 3.
  • People usually think of oranges and strawberries when they think of Florida, but don’t discount those tomatoes! On April 28, eat your way through the Ruskin Tomato and Heritage Festival from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. They'll even be picking a Tomato Festival Queen. And what about a tomato eating contest, and some arts and crafts? You have that here too.

Art Snax: Writers and Writing Programs, Gasparilla festivals, arts events on local menu

It’s time to take your wordy skills to the next level with the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference and Bookfair coming to town from March 7-10 that draws an international crowd, with more than enough off-site events and parties to keep your schedule packed tight.
 
Since the University of Tampa’s Creative Writing Low Residency MFA program is sponsoring this year’s conference, as part of their offsite readings/outreach they will be hosting their Premier Reading Authors Patricia Smith and Brock Clarke on Mar. 8 from 6-7:30 p.m.at the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery. It should be an incredibly special night,  mostly due to the fact Smith just won the prestigious Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize of $100,000 for her volume of work “Incendiary Art” (largest prize in the world for a single piece of poetry).
 
“It’s insane, it’s one of the biggest awards in the world that’s given for a single piece of poetry,'' says Erica Dawson, PhD Director of the Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing and Associate Professor of English and Writing. "Brock also has a new collection of stories that will be coming out next week so both will be presenting new works for the public.”
  
Smith’s book "Incendiary Art'' encompasses discussions of racial attitudes, self-delusion, and underpinnings of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, while Clarke’s short story collection The Price of a Haircut provides 11 stories of individuals dealing with racism, societal expectations, or marriage problems.
 
Smith and Clarke were selected due to their ties to the program: Clarke is a professor at UT and Smith was a guest artist with the writing program. Regardless, the talk will be inspirational for outsiders as well as students -- whose goals might be one day to be the next Kingsley Tufts winner.
 
“For our program, what we’re trying to do is get authors of all kind to become the writer they’ve always dreamed of being. We have an incredibly diverse program from those who might be 22 and just finished undergrad, to people who are 60 and finally following their passion,” Dawson says.
 
There will be a reception beforehand for the authors held at the Vaughn Student Center Courtyard at UT from 4-6 p.m. as a festive “Meet the Author” before the reading.
 
Other upcoming art events:
  •  On March 1, art will cross boundaries in an interdisciplinary panel discussion revolving around art, pop culture, and race issues at Gallery 3 @ HCC. Led by Princess Smith (currently showing work there), artist/journalist Dalia Colon, and James Martin, instructor of Political Science at HCC, lively discussion will be paired with food, drinks, and live music. Reception is from 5-8 p.m., with the panel starting at 6 p.m.
  • In case you missed last month’s ArtSnax, here's a friendly reminder that the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is headed right for Curtis Hixon Park March 3-4. In addition to these daytime festivities, galaRE: presented by the Oxford Exchange and the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts on March 3 at the Tampa Museum of Art is an event for those who, firstly, don’t want the party to end, but also want to get a sort of behind-the-scenes experience with the award-winning artworks and artists as well as the juror. Make sure to grab your tickets now.
  • In an additional reading hosted by UT and Volt Books during the AWP Conference, they will be presenting “Cover Stories: A Reading” with Writers Jeff Parker, Terese Svoboda, Derek Nikitas, and Jane Dykema at the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery on March 8 from 2:30-4 p.m.(before the opening reception at the Vaughn Student Center for Patricia Smith and Brock Clarke). Using classic stories to start, each writer has reinterpreted it in their own voice for a unique spin on a familiar tale.
  • As the sun beats down harder this time of the year, so will the beats during the Gasparilla Music Festival on March 10-11 in downtown Tampa. With a great line-up of soul, electronic, hip-hop, rock, and everything in between. Here’s two recommendations for ya: Get your tickets early, and stock up on SPF 100.
  • If you’re not into the music fest, you could plan on checking out the Apollo Beach Manatee Festival of the Arts & Music also held on March 10-11 at E.G. Simmons Regional Park.
  • All kids need a little more art in their lives, and they can get it during Camp SpARTan: Animals of Florida, which provides spring break art classes for Hillsborough County Schools Elementary ESE Students from March 12-16. Hosted by VSA Florida and the UT Art Therapy Department, the cost is only $50 for a full week of activities at the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery.
  • While not associated with Gasparilla, GASP! packs its own heat. Hosted by Creative Loafing Tampa and the Tampa Museum of Art, this performance-based event will be abounding with acrobatics, theatrics, dance, cabaret, and music. On March 16, prepare for a night that will potentially overload the senses.
  • Besides the beer, there is much more to be celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day. Like getting to know Irish culture through food, games, dance, and live music during the Tampa Mayor’s River O’Green Fest at Curtis Hixon Park on March 17. As you may have guessed: The river will be quite green and perfect for some great photos along the Riverwalk, or--if you’re up for it--during the inaugural River O’Green Gallop 2-mile run.
  • With all of the art events surrounding everything “Gasparilla,” it is truly establishing itself as a Spring cultural bomb that blooms every year--and the Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) is no exception to the mass of events. From March 20-25, GIFF will be partnering with the Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival for 6-day event full of screenings, industry panels, and parties across various venues, so it’s best to check out their website for the full program guide.
  • Notably recording every toilet, meal, and other banal detail of his life in pictures to send to the F.B.I. to make all of his private life public, Hasan Elahi is quite a controversial artist -- which means he’ll make a great visiting artist lecture at USF. Dealing with issues of surveillance, citizenship, migration, and borders, he will be speaking on March 20 from 4-5 p.m. 
  • People tend to think a Highwayman’s depiction of a Florida sunset is fake or overly imaginative with its vibrant pinks and harsh oranges, but those who know Florida truly understand. Join Dr. Mallory O’Connor as she discusses Florida-inspired art through the ages, and how that essence of our state is captured in
  • “Strangers in a Strange Land: Florida’s History through Art” at the Sulfur Springs Museum and Heritage Center on March 25.


  • The USF MFA Graduation Exhibition is just around the corner, and students will use every second they have between now and then to prepare. Titled “Buried Alone,” you can check out the works of Samir Cabrera, Gloria Ceren, William Douglas, Benjamin Galaday, Nestor Caparros Martin, Zakriya Rabani, and Kim Turner-Smith on March 30 from 7-9 p.m. at the Contemporary Art Museum. The show will run though May 5 for those who can’t make it to the opening. Coinciding with the this event is USF’s 20th Annual Arthouse, combining a juried student exhibition at the Carolyn M. Wilson Gallery with a general open house of the art studios on campus. There’s a lot going on at USF this night, and worth clearing your calendar to participate. Find out more by visiting the USF Arts Calendar.

Startups impress local media with innovative pitches

Tampa Bay Startup Week features local companies focused on food delivery, drones, tutoring, tech innovations and more during a panel discussion featuring reps from local media, including the Tampa Bay Times, TechCrunch, ABC Action News, the Tampa Bay Business Journal and 83 Degrees Media.

Read the complete story.




 

Portico Cafe, homeless people thrive together

A coffee shop in downtown Tampa is thriving with zero job turnover since its meager beginnings built on a mission to employ the homeless.

The Portico Cafe, created by the United Methodist Church, is a safe place to gather and take classes too.

Read the complete story
 

Tampa business leaders, Rays team up for new stadium

Baseball forever! That's the new mantra touted by business leaders behind an effort to build the Tampa Bay Rays a new stadium in Ybor City, just minutes from downtown Tampa.

Chuck Sykes and Ron Christaldi, along with elected officials Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, say a new stadium would be a good investment for the region. 

Read the complete story.
 

Art Snax: Julie Heffernan at UT, other art events on local menu

For those who fear the future of our Floridian lifestyle due to climate change, Julie Heffernan’s solo exhibition “When the Water Rises” at University of Tampa’s Scarfone/Hartley Gallery provides alternatives to living in the potential world that awaits us in the future.
 
Always a stickler for detailed narrative paintings depicting the figure, her work changed significantly in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina and 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, with the climate change conversation starting to swirl.
 
“I realized that if I could be yelling from the rooftops about these issues, I would, but that wouldn’t be as effective than using my skills as a painter as a bullet point for change. I use painting to work through the things I hear through media,” Heffernan says during her artist talk.
 
Mixing a bit of the strangeness of Hieronymus Bosch with the sublime of a J.M.W. Turner, Heffernan exhibits her strengths in “imagination calisthenics” as she calls it.
 
“The thing that is impressive about her work is how intense the work is with labor, research, and thinking. It’s storytelling that reveals itself over time,” says Francesca Bacci, UT Associate Professor and curator, during Heffernan’s artist talk on Wednesday.
 
You still have time to revel in the exquisite detail of her allegorical paintings: her exhibition will be open through March 3. Learn more here.
 
Other upcoming art events in Hillsborough County:
 
  • There’s something oddly satisfying about watching someone paint. On Feb. 1, Enrico Isamu Oyama will be presenting a live painting performance at USF’s Carolyn M. Wilson Gallery from 5-7 p.m. Using the full-body motions and sweeping gestures with his arms (and even implementing a ladder), you get to see action painting -- but still in action.
  • It’s about that time to peek into some more artists’ workspaces. The Santaella Studios Art Show and Open House kicks off on Feb. 2 to celebrate new beginnings in the studio and meet the artists. A portion of proceeds from this event will go towards Children’s Cancer Center.
  • Most museums discourage touching the art, but the Glazer Children’s Museum newest interactive installation “Light Cloud” created by Ivan Depeña insists that you put your hands all over it. On Feb. 2 at 10 a.m., the public is invited to a ribbon-cutting event to enjoy playing with the art by touching various sensors that change the light and sound inside the cloud. Not just for fun, this kind of interactive learning will educate kids (and adults alike) in mixing colored light.
  • It ain’t Ybor if there ain’t chicks! Well, chickens, that is. Featuring these beloved feathered friends (or foes, depending on if they’re in attack mode), Lynn Rattray’s paintings in “The Chicken Dance: Ybor Style” will be on display Feb. 4-March 4 at The Bunker in Ybor. A portion of the art sales will even be gifted to the Ybor Chickens Society.
  • Can’t escape to New Orleans to celebrate a legit Mardi Gras? Get your fix with “T-Bone Hamilton Big East Revue Mardi Gras Celebration” at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin. Make sure to bring your dancin’ shoes and your ticket: advanced pricing is $18 members/$23 non-members. You can still get in the day of the show for $23 members/$28 non-members.
  • It’s hard not to be a sucker for Highwaymen paintings: they depict the essence of Florida from a humble, truthful viewpoint with luscious palettes. On Feb. 11, Gary Monroe will be speaking about these artists during “Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters” at the Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center.
  • If you can’t mentally walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, “Picture My Life: A Refugee Story” attaches visuals to experience. In a photo-based mentor program, a dozen refugee youth currently living in Tampa Bay are given cameras to document their experience. Their work will be shown on Feb. 22 at the FMoPA.
  • Coming together for the cause, the Heights Unites Music & Arts Festival on Feb. 24 plans to raise money for local improvement projects in the neighborhood and to kick-start a scholarship in the name of recent homicide victims from the Seminole Heights killer. Brought to life by the South Seminole Heights Civic Association and Brew Bus Brewing, the neighborhood will revitalize with music from almost two dozen local musicians, live mural painting, and many other events throughout the day.
  • Part Irish dance, part drama: “Rhythm in the Night, The Irish Dance Spectacular” at Busch Gardens ties traditional Irish dancing to the narrative of a hero’s rise from the ashes. And see if your eyes can follow their feet! Show dates range from Feb. 26 through Mar. 3.
  • Well, the main arts event of the year hardly needs an introduction, but the 48th Annual Gasparilla Festival of the Arts will once again return to Curtis Hixon Park on Mar. 3-4. Growing larger each year (or so it seems), it always brings quite the crowd with over 250 vendors, live music, great food truck snacks, and the Emerging Artist booths -- which is always a fan favorite.

Call for site-specific public art for Water Street Tampa

Just when artistic opportunities seem few and far between, there come some heavy-hitting ones like this: A professional artist is sought to create a site-specific piece of public art to be incorporated into the open plaza area -- designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects -- located between the new USF Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute and the Water Street Tampa Community Wellness Center’s office tower in  downtown Tampa.
 
The project budget is $600,000, with three funding sources of the city, which is contributing $400,000; USF, contributing 100,000; and Strategic Property Partners, LLC adding in $100,000. The project is to be completed by Spring 2020. Applications are due Feb. 23 by 5 p.m., with decisions made by all three parties.
 
““They don’t have any preconceived notions. They’ll be looking at existing works from artists and asking for proposals. The plaza is an open space that called for it. The properties around it are all ones that through one program or another all generate funds for public arts, which is why the city is involved. We’re working with them to make sure it’s a wholistic artwork that pulls the whole site together,” says Robin Nigh, manager of the City of Tampa’s Art Programs Division.
 
With more building and renovation happening in the downtown Tampa area, the incorporation of arts into the infrastructure and planning of the city is more important than ever. Tampa’s Public Art Program has invested in around 560 works throughout the years, with the oldest piece dating back to 1903 with T. Ramos Blanco’s sculpture “Honors to Mothers.” This is in line -- but somewhat lower -- than Miami’s Public Art Collection that boasts over 700 pieces.
 
“The arts have always been involved in the development of Tampa. The ordinance was just revised last year and allows a lot of projects like this to happen. It’s just a tremendous opportunity for artists. They will be selecting whatever works best for the plaza, but of course local artists will be considered,” Nigh says.
 
Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park already has multiple public art projects underway, and Nigh hints that there are additional calls to artists coming soon.
 
Follow this link to find out more about the project and application.

Liberty Group to build new hotel in Channel District

Liberty Group CEO Punit Shah plans to build a new hotel containing Hampton Inn and Home2Suites on the same piece of property in downtown Tampa's Channel District. 

“The reason I love dual-branded properties is there are just so many efficiencies associated with them, both in the design and the operation,” Shah tells the Business Observer. “There’s one front desk, there’s one pool, and other amenities are shared. And we’ve found that the two different brands often appeal to two different customers.”

Read the complete story.
 

Art Snax: The Urban Conga lecture, and other art events on local menu

As an award-winning design and architecture firm, The Urban Conga is serious about fun and gathering people together to interact in real time. On Jan. 9, founder and executive direction Ryan Swanson will be presenting “Playable Cities” as a free event in part of the USF School of Architecture & Community Design’s Spring 2018 lecture series.
 
“Play is a strong activity where people break barriers and engage with people they wouldn’t normally interact with. When we think of city development, we think about creating buildings and parking, but we forget about how a person travels through this space. There are these really great community gathering spots, but people are still disconnected so we ask how we can get people to interact with one another. We think of it as place-making through play-making,” Swanson says.
 
The lecture will in part be an overview of who The Urban Conga is and what they do, but also digging into how they accomplish their projects. As a graduate of the USF School of Architecture, Swanson will be discussing the potential of “play” to be a game-changer for urban planning in the future.
 
The responses to Urban Conga’s projects have been energetic, but sometimes cities question it at first … until thousands of people show up the week their project is installed. Because of this initial doubt from municipalities, they have been working with the British Council to develop qualitative and quantitative studies to see how their work affects cities, from personal experiences to the traffic and revenue it can create.
 
“We’re looking at things that already exist in the public realm and architecture, and take it one step further. It’s the idea of how play can be used in everyday spaces. It’s not just about kid’s playgrounds, but it could also be sidewalks, alleyways, or benches that act as platforms for community activity and allow people to escape their monotonous routine,” Swanson explains.
 
Other art events coming up:
 
  • CASS presents ''Naughty by Nature'' at its satellite gallery, the Epicurean Hotel, on Jan. 12. Featuring new watercolors by Jason Pulgarin, his street art aesthetic -- inspired by cartoons, fashion, and graffiti -- is captured in works on paper.
  • On Jan. 12, join artists Javier Castro, Yunior Aguiar Perdomo of Celia y Yunior, and Glexis Novoa at the USF CAM for a lively discussion surrounding art, politics, and the environment during the exhibition reception for ''Climate Change: Cuba/USA.'' The artist talk, moderated by curator Noel Smith, will start at 6 p.m. at the Barness Recital Hall, followed by the exhibition reception from 7-9 p.m.
  • Get on your boogie shoes and get ready to bust a move at Tempus Project’s (NO MEDIA) Dance Party on Jan. 13. Just as the name states: no phones, cameras, or screens to get some real face time with your friends. Just disconnect and dance!
  • Part fashion show, part art party -- you can’t really go wrong with that combination. On Jan. 13, see who’s rocking the runway during ''Cocktails & Couture: Apocalipstick'' at The Ritz Ybor, with designs from Elizabeth Carson Racker Fashion Design Boutique, Halle Elizabeth Couture, Juliet Retro, Kingsland by Kevin Arnett, Sew Addicted, and Spellbound Stitches. Come for the fashion, but stick around for the music and performances. Tickets range from $13-60.
  • Even if you don’t have a yard for a big garden, you can learn how to utilize wall space for planting at the Vertical Garden Workshop: Design and Maintenance hosted by Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association on Jan. 16. But these gardens aren’t just beautiful; they’re also beneficial (who doesn’t want noise reduction and lower A/C costs?) The workshop will be run by Hal Thorne, Debbie Kotalic, and Dan Ballay of GSky Plant Systems, and cost $75 per person ($90 after Jan. 5).
  • The group exhibition "Beyond Tradition: Contemporary Reflections in East Asia,'' featuring works by 8 East Asian artists who explore traditional styles and techniques in a contemporary manner, will exhibit at USF’s Carolyn M. Wilson Gallery from Jan. 17 – Feb. 1. The free lecture, “Embrace or Rebel?,” by Dr. Hyewon Yi surrounding this exhibition will be on Jan. 18 in FAH 101.
  • About once a year, Santaella Studios opens their doors for an art show and open house so the public can see what the artists’ have been up to their unique cigar factory studio spaces. The event will be on Feb. 2, and a portion of the proceeds of this event will go toward Children’s Cancer Center.
  • If you’re into punkish sounds, energetic beats, or experimental drums, you should check out the bands Career, Permanent Makeup, and Sean Hamilton who are lined up to play at CL Space in Ybor on Feb. 9. Adam Roberts’ photography exhibition will provide the backdrop for the concert.
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