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.

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 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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