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

Brock Clarke, author and professor at UT

Cover of "Cover Stories"

Incendiary Art by Patricia Smith

Sheehan Smith

Carolyn M. Wilson Gallery

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.”
Incendiary Art by Patricia SmithSmith’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 Cover of "Cover Stories"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.

Read more articles by Caitlin Albritton.

Caitlin Albritton is a freelance writer based in Tampa with a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a MFA (graduating Summer 2018) from Maryland Institute College of Art. When she's not looking at art throughout town, she can be found making it. You can keep up with her visual art on Instagram @caitlinalbritton or on her website.
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