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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
 

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.

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.

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts gives emerging artists a big opportunity

Getting your footing in the art world can be a struggle for emerging artists, but the Emerging Artist Program at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts gives a unique opportunity to show work in one of the largest outdoor festivals in the country.
 
“The idea was to encourage artists who were just starting out and didn’t have the portfolio to compete with career art fair artists so they could see what it was like and have a mentoring aspect along the way,” says Ann-Eliza Taylor, Chair of the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts Emerging Artists program.
 
The number of candidates has gone up each year, with 125 submissions last year. This year, they will be selecting 15 artists to show their works. What’s even better is that there is no booth cost to the artist; in fact, selected artists get paid a $250 stipend for show expenses. Additionally, they will provide a tent for the weekend as well as mentoring.
 
“Last year, Libbi Ponce was selected and she did an interested installation piece along with smaller works she sold. Because the emerging artists have the benefit of not having to pay booth fees, they can take more risks. They don’t have to be concerned about making money, but they can use this as a catalyst to apply for other exhibitions and shows. We are really trying to break out of the mold. It doesn’t have to be a traditional art fair booth, so we are really encouraging the artists to be as creative as they want to be,” Taylor says.
 
Not only is the festival a great way to garner collectors and art sales, one of the emerging artists will be selected for the $1,500 Emerging Artist Award by jury.
 
So what exactly qualifies as an emerging artist? As long as you don’t have a professional artist record of exhibiting in museums, art centers, major galleries or juried outdoor art exhibitions and you don’t have more than 25 percent of your total income produced from artwork sales, you are eligible to apply.
 
“For the future of this program, I want to continue to support new artists and would like the program to be more involved with interaction and mentorship throughout they year. As a festival, we are trying to be more involved in the community and do more outside the month of the festival,” Taylor explains.
 
The deadline to apply is Jan. 7. You can find additional information, see the works of previous emerging artists, and get the link to the application (with a small application fee of $10) here.

Air filter created by USF researchers among top inventions

A specially designed air filter that zaps particles and pollutants indoors, making it easier for asthma sufferers and others to breathe clean air makes TIME magazine's list of top inventions for 2017.

The filter, designed at USF's Clean Energy Research Center, retails for close to $900.

Read the complete story.
 

Local artists eligible for professional development grants, grant panels

If you’re an artist looking for ways to fund your next big idea, now is your chance to apply for the Arts Council of Hillsborough County Professional Development for Artists (PDA) Grants, providing up to $2,000 toward a specific project. Open to visual, performing, or literary artists living in Hillsborough County (last year’s grantees ranged from dancers to storytellers to musicians), the ACHC will be accepting applications until Dec. 15 at 4 p.m.

As a project-based grant, the focus is placed upon funding attendance to a professional development experience (like conferences, artist residencies, or workshops), or the purchase/rental of equipment that will help push an artist’s career forward.

This grant program differs from the Individual Arts Grant Program they have been running in the past, but you can check out the specifics at Tampa Arts.

Looking at the list of awardees through the years, you can see how the program has grown and including more and more artists from the eight grantees in 2013 to 14 in 2017. As always, it’s best to review the guidelines and eligibility before getting started.

Tips from a previous ACHC grant recipient

Michael Parker seems to be gifted with the grant-writing touch: he received an ACHC grant plus the Carolyn Heller Visual Arts Award -- a bonus of $1,000 given to the highest scoring visual artist -- in 2017, but he also won both of these grants back in 2013. For Parker’s most recent proposal, he wanted to use grant funs to by specialty automotive interference pigments to take his work in a new direction.

“The grant was the perfect opportunity for me to pull the trigger on this project, or else I’d sit around and say that it’s out of my range. This made it a whole lot easier to say it’s time to get these materials and actually start using it. I’m so cheap; I reuse and recycle everything. I take old paintings and give them a new life, so it’s hard for me to drop three grand on a few bags of pigment, but I wanted to up my game a little bit,” Parker says.

Since Parker has been on both sides of the grant process as a panelist and applicator, he was willing to give up a few tips on how to put your best foot forward.

“The ones that did not appeal to me were too wordy. Don’t try to use words that a regular person won’t understand. Also, make sure that your own voice is in there and you’re honest about what you’re doing. You don’t realize when you’re writing it, but you have to take everything in you and turn it into two paragraphs. Keep it short, concise, and honest. I feel people reading them will appreciate that,” Parker explains.

Interested in being a panelist?

Even if you aren’t an artist or eligible for the grant, you can help out the ACHC by becoming a panelist -- all while knowing your important decisions will help shape the local art scene. Panelists are needed not only for the PDA Grants, but for other programs throughout the year as well.

An outstanding candidate for a panelist will have knowledge and experience in the arts, culture, and nonprofit management as well as connections to the Tampa Bay community.

You can find more information and the fact sheet on their website.

Art Snax: The Black Friday Alternative, and other art events on local menu

If you shudder at the thought of battling your way through the mall on Black Friday, why not check out “The Black Friday Alternative”? Hosted by the Tampa Bay Etsy Crew and Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café, browse through local makers (full list of artists on event page) to find some unique gifts for loved ones all while supporting local artists.
 
The Tampa Bay Etsy Crew was founded by artist-entrepreneur Julie Richarme back in April 2008 when she was browsing the Etsy and noticed an abundance of artists and makers in the local area.
 
“I just thought to myself, here I am working from home, and it can be kind of a lonely thing. I thought it would be a great way to build a community to talk shop. I put together the team, and now we’re up to around 1,500 active members. We do meet up in person, like when we do our one big annual summer event at the St. Pete Coliseum, which we call our ‘Craft Party.’ It’s like a craft show where we have vendors, free crafts, and swag bags. In between our summer event and holiday market, we have some smaller meet-ups to discuss projects or just to get out of the house,” Richarme says.
 
The Black Friday Alternative event starts on Nov. 24 at 4 -- 10 p.m., and while this isn’t Ella’s first holiday sale, this will be TBEC’s first time at this venue. With around 50 vendors that have been carefully selected through a jury process, you can expect only the best for your gift-buying needs.
 
“What makes our holiday market stand out is that everyone there is a local small business, and everything is either handmade or vintage. We’re pretty excited about this event coming up,” Richarme says.

Other art events on the radar:
 
  • With the Arts Council of Hillsborough County’s recent Arts & Economic Prosperity Study, it’s clear how the arts impact Tampa in a positive way -- but what about arts education? At Oxford Exchange on Nov. 17, learn more from Alex Harris with “Arts Education as an Economic Engine” at 8 a.m.
  • What started out as a poetry reading in Keith Rodger’s living room has expanded over the past seven years into the longest running Spoken Word/Open Mic in the Tampa Bay area. Join Black on Black Rhyme on Nov. 17 for a night invigorated by speech.
  • Desireé Moore’s solo exhibition “Bare Your Teeth” kicks off Nov. 18 at Cunsthaus with the opening reception starting at 7 p.m., with worth that explores the social norms placed on women through film. While you’re in that neck of the woods, stroll over to Tempus Projects next door for Neil Bender’s solo show opening reception for “Head Cream”.
  • Did you know that USF has a killer print atelier -- hiding in an obscure part of the campus--that invites some big-name artists to do specialty editions throughout the year? If not, now’s your chance during Field Trip: Graphicstudio to tour the facilities and get to see some prints come hot off the press on Nov. 18. Hosted by The Contemporaries of the MFA St. Pete, this event is $10 for The Contemporaries members, and $20 for non-members.
  • It’s the giving time of year, but handing off your money doesn’t have to be so boring. With HamBINGO Mary’s 3rd Annual Fundraiser for Tempus Projects on Nov. 20, bring your game face and some cash, and you too can receive a little fun for your generosity in supporting your local arts community.
  • There are some movies that you just can’t rent from Redbox. As part of additional programming coinciding with the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts’ “Under the Cuban Sun” exhibition, the film “Soy Cuba (1964)” will be screened as part of “Night Visions,” their monthly film-based programming hosted by Second Screen Cult Cinema on Nov. 21.
  • Coinciding with their exhibition “James Rosenquist: Tampa,” USF CAM will be giving you an insider look with their “Art Thursday: Secrets of the Rosenquist Prints” on Nov. 30.
  • Burlesque for a cause? You bet. Femmes & Follies will be back at the Honey Pot this year for their 4th Annual Rhinestones & Rescues! Burlesque, with proceeds from their burlesque and 2018 calendar release benefitting Suncoast Animal League.
  • During “Skyway: A Contemporary Collaboration” featuring local artists, the Tampa Museum of Art asked who should be given the limelight for an encore show, and you  all delivered on your vote. “Skyway Selections: Audience Choice” from Dec. 1-April 1 will feature the work of Elisabeth Condon and Bruce Marsh.
  • If you haven’t worn out your wallet by the beginning of December, the 5th Annual Oxford Exchange Holiday Gift Bazaar on Dec. 2 – 3 might have what you need for that person that’s hard to buy for with lots of local makers on their roster.
  • Taking rock music to a whole new genre with “An Intimate Evening with The Florida Orchestra and Sting at TFO on Dec. 9, they will be rocking out through the night to celebrate The Florida Orchestra’s 50th Anniversary.
  • Even if you already know the story, it’s still a staple of the holidays. Tampa City Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” at USF Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. for a one-night performance, so now’s the time to get crackin’ on your plans. Tickets are priced at $30.
  • Holiday music for your ears: the Tampa Metropolitan Youth Orchestra Winter Concert this year will be on Dec. 16 at USF School of Music Concert Hall. Admission is $10 for students and seniors, $15 for adults.
  • What better way to build up to the crescendo of the holidays than with a orchestra/acrobatic live performance? Cirque Musica Holiday presents “Believe” on Dec. 22 at Amalie Arena to fill you up with all of that jolly holiday spirit.

Key North Tampa stakeholders pledge major investment in University Area

Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, the University of South Florida, Florida Hospital, Busch Gardens and University Mall are among key community stakeholders pledging to invest big bucks in the local neighborhoods of North Tampa.

The idea is to market the area as an Innovation Place where research and development can help companies grow and create higher-paying jobs while improving neighborhood amenities.

Read the complete story.
 

Tampa Bay leaders roll out video pitch for Amazon HQ2

Community, business and human rights leaders in the Tampa Bay region star in a series of videos that will be rolled out in coming weeks to make the case for landing Amazon HQ2. 

Among those featured: 
  • Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn
  • St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman
  • Tampa Bay Rowdies midfielders Justin Chavez and Marcel Schäfer
  • Tom James, Chairman Emeritus of Raymond James
  • Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida
  • Joe Lopano, CEO of Tampa International Airport
  • Dr. Judy Genshaft, President of USF
  • Dr. Ken Atwater, President of HCC
  • Janet Long, Chair, Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners
  • Stacy White, Chair, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.
  • Bob Dutkowsky, CEO of Tech Data
  • Lee Evans, Site Executive & GM, Head of North America Capability Center, Head of Global Strategic Operations
  • Ken Jones, Chairman and CEO, Third Lake Capital

First geek bar, no sports allowed, opens in Largo

Steering away from the local sports bar trend, a new bar in Largo targets geeks, nerds, brainiacs who want to enjoy a tasty brew without competitive athletes going at it in the background.

Conversation too may win as people take their eyes off the ball to talk to each other. What a concept!

Read the complete story.
 

Tampa, St. Pete work together to lure Amazon

Business and community leaders from both sides of Tampa Bay are teaming up to try to convince Amazon decision-makers that Florida would be a great place for their new headquarters outside of Seattle.

People in leadership positions from Tampa and St. Pete recognize that landing Amazon anywhere in the region would be a coupe for the entire region.

Read the complete story.
 

Tampa-based drone company key to hurricane weather reports, damage assessments

FlyMotion, a Tampa-based drone company, is actively engaged in assessing damage post-Irma and is helping with weather forecasts as well. 

CEO Ryan English says his company deployed 18 teams across Florida to assist, according to an article in AOPA, an industry publication.

Read more in Air and Space magazine.

Private donors step up to pay for removal of Confederate statue in Tampa

The Tampa business community led by Attorney Tom Scarritt, former Tampa Bay Storm owner Bob Gries, former Bucs Coach Tony Dungy, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Alex Sink and members of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce showed leadership by pooling resources to pay for the removal of a Confederate statue in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse. 

The private citizens stepped up after county commissioners declined to pay all of the costs necessary for moving the historic artwork to another location.

Read the Tampa Times editorial praising the coalition.
 

Tampa ranks in Top 15 best big U.S. cities for urban lifestyle

Wallet Hub measures 50 key indicators of attractiveness to determine Tampa is among Top 15 big U.S. cities for living.

The data analysis looked at a variety of measures from quality of public school system to job opportunities to median annual property taxes.

Read the complete story.
 

Tampa Bay Area new economy gets mostly thumbs up

Tampa Bay Times Columnist Robert Trigaux gives the Tampa Bay region's new economy 4 out of 6 thumbs up.

Measurements include progress on transportation, affordable housing, creating a well-known brand (think 83 Degrees!), supporting local startups, and more.

Read the complete story.
 
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