May arts roundup: Breaking Barriers at USF CAM, music and cultural festivals, new exhibitions

“Breaking Barriers: PORTRAIT” at USF Contemporary Art Museum

“Breaking Barriers: PORTRAIT,” the USF Contemporary Art Museum’s seventh annual photography exhibition featuring the work of military veterans and family members, is May 14th through 18th. An opening reception and artist talk is 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 17th.

The exhibition features 66 portrait photographs from 22 veteran and family member artists. Each burgeoning photographer develops their skills through an intensive, artist-led online workshop of six weekly four-hour sessions, with separate beginning-level and advanced workshops. The instructor for this year’s group, Christian Cortes, is himself a U.S. Army veteran and a graduate of the USF Master of Fine Arts program. 

In addition to the workshop, USF CAM Curator of Education Leslie Elsasser and Program Coordinator Amy Allison lead a museum session to help each group soak up more knowledge about art. There’s also a writing workshop to help the artists write a narrative to accompany their photographs. Some narratives are reflections on family. Others recall painful personal or combat experiences.

USF CAM collaborates with the Department of Veterans Affairs Creative Arts Therapies program to identify veterans interested in continuing to develop their skills and passion for photography through Breaking Barriers. Elsasser says Breaking Barriers is not an art therapy program but many veterans who have gone through the program say it was therapeutic for them. She says for veterans facing challenges related to war, deployment, reintegration, physical injury or emotional trauma, photography can help communicate feelings they find difficult to express in words.

“What we promise is to learn a nonverbal language, learn new skills, have a bridge between the civilian community and the veteran community and to have a document of that experience,” Elsasser says.

Provided by USF CAM.Mikko Maki's "Reflection" is part of the exhibit "Breaking Barriers: PORTRAIT" at the USF Contemporary Art Museum.After their experience with Breaking Barriers, some veterans pursue art as a career or passion, including a former war photographer who became a professional digital photographer. The nearly two dozen artists in this year’s show include a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who has been part of the program since its second year.  His works in this exhibition include a self-portrait and portraits of family members. Another photographer is now pursuing a degree in graphic design at USF. 

Registration is also open for Breaking Barriers’ Summer 2024 online workshop series, which focuses on still life and object photography. The deadline to register is June 25th and workshops begin July 12th.

USF CAM launched Breaking Barriers in 2018 as part of “Museum on Call,” an initiative funded through a National Endowment of the Arts grant to the University of Florida’s Art in Medicine program to develop arts programming for veterans and their family members at multiple museums in the state. When the NEA grant funding was gone,  USF CAM was the only location in the state to keep its program going, Elsasser says. 

A Community Arts Impact Grant from the Hillsborough Arts Council is now the main source of funding. Breaking Barriers also receives support from the Love IV Lawrence Foundation, USFCAM Art for Community Engagement (ACE) Fund Patrons and the Florida Department of State, Florida Arts & Culture.

For more information on the May exhibit and the upcoming workshop, go to Breaking Barriers.

St. Pete Second Saturday ArtWalk

On May 11, the St. Pete Second Saturday ArtWAlk covers 35 galleries, studios, museums and art shops across the Grand Central, Warehouse Arts, Deuces Live, Waterfront Arts, Uptown Arts and Central Arts districts.

At Craftsman House Gallery, Cafe & Pottery Studio in the Grand Central District, the new exhibit “Now and Then You Spot A Great Photo” features 1950s-era photographs of St. Pete by Robert Preston, a photographer for the St. Petersburg Times and The Evening Independent in the 50s, and side-by-side modern-day photos shot by Preston’s daughter, photographer Patricia Preston Mastry.   

Other goings-on in the Grand Central District include new local visual artist Rachel Stewart’s new exhibit at Aravela & Co.; artist Keith Nodland’s exhibition “What Is It?” and music by singer/songwriter/guitarist David John Paloscio at St Pete Art Works;  a new exhibition by the Town Shores Art Guild at Mirella Cimato Art Gallery; and “The Good Folk Traveling Show” at Creative Clay’s Good Folk Gallery, a showing feature work by Creative Clay artists from two recent exhibits.

In the Warehouse Arts District, the exhibit “Nature’s Beauty” at The Five Deuces Galleria includes 100 pieces of art by more than 50 local guest artists and featured photographer Donna Ogelsy. Two new exhibits open at the  Morean Center for Clay. “Ethan Fielder: Putting Out Fire,” is Fielder’s final exhibit as artist-in-residence there. “Israel Davis: Devil-May-Care” is a solo exhibit by Davis, a professor and the head of ceramics at Central Michigan University. 

“Inspired by the devil-may-care spirit of skateboarding and the heathenistic ethos of a rough-and-tumble youth, this work explores inherent risk as manifest through observation and action,” an exhibition description says.

For full details on this month’s event, go to May St. Pete ArtWalk.

OXH Gallery presents “Receptacle” at Drift in Kress Contemporary

To mark the month of Mother’s Day, OXH Gallery presents “Receptacle,” a group exhibition featuring the work of six women artists, at Drift, Tempus Projects’ independent curator’s gallery space at the Kress Contemporary in the Ybor City Historic District.

“Receptacle” features Adria Arch, Julie Gladstone, Madison Hendry, Caroline"Invisibility Cloak with Sumach and Goldenrod," by Julie Gladstone, is part of OXH Gallery's exhibit "Receptable" at DRIFT in Ybor's Kress Contemporary. McAuliffe, Denise Treizman and  Odeta Xheka, who opened OXH Gallery in January to support female and underrepresented artists. The diverse group of artists will express their own experiences with motherhood and personhood through paintings, textiles, photography, performance, installation and new media.

In a press release, Xheka says the exhibit seeks to break through the social taboos “that disallow nuanced perspectives when speaking about the complexity of motherhood, maternity, and women’s bodies in general.”

“Receptacle” runs from May 16th through July 11th. The opening reception is 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 16th.

For more information, go to OXH Gallery.

Dana Fidler’s “Keep in Touch” at Kress Contemporary

Tampa artist Dana Fidler’s solo exhibit “Keep in Touch” is on display in the Third Floor East Gallery at Kress Contemporary from May 2nd through May 16th. The opening reception is 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 2nd. The interactive exhibit explores “how individuals lose touch with intimacy, value and personal memory in a consumer-driven culture.” 

“Keep in Touch” is one of the Tampa Bay-area art projects and exhibits funded by a microgrant from the nonprofit Gobioff Foundation. The Gobioff Foundation is accepting applications through June 1st for its next cycle of microgrant funding.

For more information, go to Kress Contemporary and Gobioff Foundation microgrants.

“Fly Away Home” at LAB Theater Project

“Fly Away Home,” a new play dramatizing a real incident in the life of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is at the LAB Theater Project from May 2nd to 19th.

Written by Gwendolyn Rice and directed by Katie Calahan, “Fly Away Home” is a dramatic exploration of the August 1914 day when Wright boarded a private train car after getting word that there had been a fire at his famed home, Taliesin. At the last moment, Edwin Chaney, a gossip columnist whose wife and children had left him to live with Wright at Taliesin, boards the train.

Rice says she became fascinated with the story while working as a tour guide at Taliesin.

For more information, go to LAB Theater Project shows.

Tempus Projects call to artists

Tempus Projects has an open call to printmaking artists through midnight on June 7th. 

Artists working in intaglio, relief, screen printing and other techniques may submit up to three images of their work for a juried exhibition scheduled for July 18th through September 12th at Tempus’ gallery space in the Kress Contemporary in Ybor City. Acceptance notifications go out on  June 24th.

The juror for the show is Carissa Heinrichs, a printmaker and interdisciplinary artist based in Tampa. Heinrichs has taught college courses in printmaking at Pensacola State College and the University of Virginia and is currently a production printer at Graphicstudio in the University of South Florida’s Institute for Research in Art.

For more information, go to Tempus Projects open call.

“Skyway 2024: A Contemporary Collaboration”

“Skyway 2024: A Contemporary Collaboration,” the joint exhibition that five of Tampa Bay’s most well-known art museums put on once every three years, opens May 25th at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.

The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, the USF Contemporary Art Museum and the Sarasota Museum of Art debut their portions of the show in July, with the Tampa Museum of Art following in July.

“This collaborative effort will feature a diverse array of contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, installations, and multimedia presentations by 63 artists and art collectives living and working in the Tampa Bay area,” an exhibition description says. "Each museum will host a distinct grouping of Tampa Bay area artists and art collectives in Skyway 2024, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to embark on a comprehensive journey through the vibrant contemporary art landscape of the Tampa Bay region.”

“Skyway” is on display at the Ringling Museum from May 25th through January 26th, 2025. Featured artists there are Caitlin Albritton, Ainaz Alipour, Mohsen Azar, Saumitra Chandratreya, Elisabeth Condon, Robyn “Avalon” Crosa, Rachel de Cuba, Jake Fernandez, Akiko Kotani, Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse, Libbi Ponce, Michael Vasquez and Joo Woo.

The exhibit is at the MFA, St. Petersburg from July 13th through November 3rd. Artists include Will Douglas, Kendra Frorup, Emily Martinez, Cynthia Mason, Carola Miles, Anat Pollack and Emiliano Settecasi.

“Skyway” is at USF CAM from July 19th through November 23rd. Elisabeth Condon, Keith Crowley, John Gurbacs, Karen Tucker Kuykendall, Caui Lofgren, Bruce Marsh, Eric Ondina, Sebastian Ore Blas, Andres Ramirez, Bradford Robotham, Erin Titus and Susanna Wallin have work on display there.

The exhibit runs from July 28th through October 27th at the Sarasota Museum of Art and features Kim Anderson, Ryan Day, Sue Havens, Dominique Labauvie, Tatiana Mesa Paján, Samantha Modder, Roger Clay Palmer, Herion Park, Gabriel Ramos, Eszter Sziksz, Jill Taffet, Rob Tarbell, Kirk Ke Wang, Willow Wells and Corinne Zepeda.

“Skyway” is on exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art from August 28th through January 5th, 2025. The artists there are Marc Brechwald, Samo Davis, Danielle Dragani, Joe Fig, Adrian Gomez, JD Hardy, Sami Harthoorn, Cort Hartle, Latonya Hicks, Dallas Jackson, Aimee Jones, Candace Knapp, David Mack, David McCauley, Marina Shalthout, David Sibbitt, Yajaira Urzua-Reyes and Corinne Zepeda.

For more information, go to Skyway 2024

Clearwater Arts Alliance's “Inspired by Nature” 

The Clearwater Arts Alliance’s “Inspired by Nature” exhibition is on display at the Clearwater Main Library Gallery downtown from May 25th through August 25th. 

The exhibit features nature-inspired art by Pinellas County residents.

For more information, go to Clearwater Arts Alliance.

“Our Town” at Stageworks

Stageworks Theatre’s modern reimagining of Thornton Wilder’s classic “Our Town” continues on weekends through Sunday, May 12th.

In this modern version, the Gibbs family are Haitian-Americans and the Webb family are Hispanic-Americans. The performance is primarily in English but short sections are in Spanish and Creole, with Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz and Hatian-American playwright Jeff Augustin translating the original dialogue. The production of “Our Town” is part of Stageworks’ Hispanic Initiative highlighting the contributions of Hispanic authors and playwrights

For more information, go to Stageworks Theatre Our Town.

FMoPA events

“Through Their Lens: A Journey of Self Exploration,” an exhibition featuring work from Hillel Academy’s first student photography contest, is on display at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in the Ybor Kress Building from May 22nd through June 16. 

The exhibition features photographs by Tampa Bay area students in grades six through 12. Hillel launched the student photography content in memory of Jacob Ari Kamis, a former Hillel student and avid photographer who died in 2022.

For more information, go to Through Their Lens.

This month, FMoPA also offers a cellphone photography class that will cover the tools needed to capture images that tell compelling stories. The class covers lighting techniques, composition, editing techniques, how to navigate different camera modes, techniques to refine focus and how to master framing. The cellphone photography class is 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on May 22nd.

For more information, including cost and registration, go to Phone Photography Class.

On May 29th, FMoPA offers Digital Photography 101, a two-hour workshop designed to teach beginners the basics of digital photography. The class covers how to choose the right shutter speed, aperture and ISO for photographs, when to change white balance settings and how to get photos in focus.

For more information, including cost and registration, go to Digital Photography 101.

ART to the Rescue at Stirling Art Studios & Gallery

“ART to the Rescue,” an exhibition and artist contest featuring animal and pet art, is at Stirling Art Studios & Gallery in Dunedin through May 26th. The reception and awards ceremony for winning artists is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 11th. Now in its 13th year, the show is a fundraiser for the nonprofit group Dunedin Doggie Rescue. 

For more information, go to Stirling Art Studio.

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month events 

On Saturday, May 11th at Curtis Hixon Riverfront Park, the City of Tampa marks Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Festival. The event includes cultural performances, food and exhibits.

For more information, go to Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Festival.

The Florida Chapter of the National Asian Pacific Islander Women’s Forum’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 18th at the Lao Cultural Center, 4090 58th Ave N. in St. Petersburg. The event includes cultural performances, Asian vendors, food and educational programming.

For more information, go to NAPAWF Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration.

Brazilian Festival

On Saturday, May 18th at Water Works Park in downtown Tampa,  the annual Brazilian Festival in South Florida adds a Tampa event for the first time.

The 13th annual festival runs from noon to 10 p.m. and features live music throughout the afternoon and evening. Headliners are Brazilian singer Sandami and Brazilian pop act Nenhum De Nos. Tampa Brazilian bossa nova and samba jazz band O Som Do Jazz is also part of the lineup. The day also includes Brazilian food vendors, art, exhibitors, kids rides and more. Tickets are $35. 

For more information, go to Brazilian Festival.

Uptown Music & Arts Festival

The fourth annual Uptown Music & Arts Festival is May 25th and 26th at Curtis Hixon Riverfront Park in downtown Tampa. 

The music acts taking the stage on day one are DW3, Jose Valentino and Charlton Singleton, Kayla Waters, Rob Zinn and Andrew Neu and the Tim George Band.
Day two performers are Eric Darius, Alex Harris, Adam Hawley and Paula Atherton.

There is also an art pavilion with work on display and for sale.

For more information, go to Uptown Music & Arts Festival.

TIA, Fairgrounds St. Pete collaborate on iBOMS installation

Tampa International Airport has a co-pilot on board for the latest addition to the airport’s public art program.

TIA and Fairgrounds St. Pete have collaborated to bring “Joy For All,” a temporary art installation featuring St. Pete-based artist Jabari Reed, aka iBOMS, to the airport through September.

The temporary installation of TIA will give travelers a taste of what they can see at the permanent “Joy For All” iBOMS installation now open at Fairgrounds St. Pete. 

For this diorama-style installation, IBOMS drew inspiration from the fun-loving andTampa International Airport and Fairgrounds St. Pete have collaborated on "Joy For All," a temporary installation at the airport that features the work of St. Pete artist iBOMS and gives a sample of the permanent installation at Fairgrounds. adventurous immersive art museum, especially its mission statement, “Art for All, Play for All, Joy for All," and its FLORIDARAMA room. The artwork features rubber ducks and some signature iBOMS characters.

“His installation at Fairgrounds St. Pete is humorous, playful and, of course, inspired by all things Florida,” a press release says. “Housed in a secret passageway, it will incorporate glowing and iridescent paintings featuring Florida native species, a well-known iBOMS character, a sparkling ‘Grillz Garden’ and wordplay.”

For more information, go to Fairgrounds St Pete and TIA public art.

Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Exhibition

Creative Pinellas’ 2024 Emerging Artist Exhibition runs from May 9th through July 21st.

This year’s exhibit features the work of the 10 artists who received Emerging Artist grants this year: Kaitlin Crockett, Vanessa Cunto, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Fran Failla, Tyler Gillespie, Antonia Lewandowski, David McCauley, Harriet Monzon-Aguirre, Gaby Rosa and Luci Westphal.

The opening reception is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m on May 9th. Several artist talks featuring artists with work in the exhibition are scheduled from May 18th through June 1st.

For more information, go to Emerging Artist Exhibition

New Tampa Performing Arts Center events

At 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 5th, the New Tampa Performing Arts Center celebrates Cinco De Mayo with “South of the Border: The Ultimate Tijuana Brass Tribute.” 

The concerts feature the music of ’60s band Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass, famous for its blend of Latin, jazz and pop. South of the Border meticulously recreates the original band’s arrangements with eight experienced musicians and vocalists. Tickets are $13 for a theater seat and $15 for a table seat.

For more information and tickets, go to New Tampa Performing Arts Center tickets.  

At 8 p.m. Friday, May 10th, the Tampa Bay Symphony performs “A British Fantasia.” The performance includes “Pomp and Circumstance” No. 1 by Edward Elgar,  “Concerto for Bassoon, Strings and Percussion” by Gordon Jacob, and Elgar’s “Enigma Variations.”

For tickets, go to Tampa Bay Symphony.

At 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 12th, the New Tampa Unplugged concert series features Acme Jazz Garage. Guitarist Matt Swenson, bassist Philip Booth, pianist and keyboardist Jody Marsh, saxophonist Rick Runion and drummer Michael Washington mix jazz, blues, funk, Latin jazz and fusion to create a sound all their own.

On May 19th, New Tampa Unplugged features La Lucha and Friends. The prominent jazz trio will collaborate for the first time with  Brazilian trombonist, François de Lima, a major figure in samba, bossa nova and MPB, and longtime friend and guitarist, LaRue Nickelson. 

Tickets for New Tampa Unplugged are $13 for a theater seat and $15 for a table seat.

For more information and tickets, go to New Tampa Unplugged.

A trio of new exhibits at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art 

The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at St. Petersburg College’s Tarpon Springs campus debuts three new exhibitions on May 18th.

“Interwoven Legacies: Celebrating 25 Years of the Tampa Bay Surface Design Guild in Honor of Marlene Glickman”  features the work of Glickman and other members of the Design Guild. Glickman, who passed away in 2023, was a founding member and president of the Tampa Bay Surface Design Guild, which started with eight women in the 1990s and now has over 100 members.

“Florence Putterman: With Love” features the work of Putterman, a groundbreaking female abstract artist and Sarasota resident who passed away in 2021 at age 94. Putterman’s career spanned more than 50 years.

“After receiving an NEA grant to explore and study the prehistoric symbolism of ancient civilizations, Florence began to develop her own symbolism,” an exhibit description says. “Her fanciful creatures of frolicking elephants, playful dogs and cats, colorful serpents and tropical birds combine with abstract marks, lines and curves and levitating figures, dancing magically across her canvases and paper. Her collages are composed of found objects, handmade papers and Putterman’s great interest in giving discarded items a new life and meaning. Her colors are earthy, pungent and bold; and her use of sand and crushed shells on canvas creates an intriguing crackled texture surface to receive her paint.”

“Donald Sultan: Beyond the Surface” features works of the famed artist, who first roseLeepa-Rattner Museum of Art"Donald Sultan: Beyond the Surface" is one of three exhibits opening in May at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art on St. Petersburg College's Tarpon Springs campus. to prominence in New York City’s late 1970s art scene. Sultan is known for his large-scale still life painting and his use of non-traditional materials, including tar, spackle and vinyl.

Each of the exhibits runs through August 4th.

For more information, go to Leepa-Rattner.

“Fresh Squeezed 8: Emerging Artists in Florida” at Morean Arts Center

“Fresh Squeezed 8:Emerging Artists in Florida,” an annual exhibition showcasing the state’s rising artists, is at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg through June 27th.

This year’s exhibition features Tampa native Jayne Archbold, Orlando-based artist Brittani Brown, Tampa’s Camilla Byrd, Alexis Childress, an artist who’s relocated from Georgia to Florida,  Emily Martinez, who’s pursuing an MFA at USF, and Karina Yanes, a graduate student in ceramics at USF. 

There are artist talks at the Morean Arts Center with Childress and Martinez on May 9th and Archbold and Byrd on May 30th.

For more information on the exhibit and the artists, go to Fresh Squeezed 8.

Cuban Sandwich Festival

The 13th annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival returns to Ybor City’s Centennial Park from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 26th.

Husband and wife Victor Padilla and Jolie Gonzalez-Padilla launched the festival in 2012 to celebrate Ybor’s famed Cuban sandwich and culture. The day includes food vendors, live entertainment, a Cuban sandwich contest and Cuban sandwich-inspired art.

For more information, go to Cuban Sandiwch Festival

Next Generation Ballet presents “Giselle”

Next Generation Ballet, the pre-professional resident ballet company at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, presents the classic “Giselle” on  Saturday, May 11th and Sunday, 12th. Shows are in the Straz Center’s Ferguson Hall at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on May 11th and 2 p.m. on May 12th.

For more information and tickets, go to Next Generation Ballet Giselle .
Cigar City Music Festival 

Ybor City gets the blues on May 19th. The new Cigar City Music Festival debuts at 1920 Ybor with a lineup boasting Tampa Bay-area blues rock bands Memphis Lightning and Alex Lopez Express and Jacksonville rock band Street Preacher. The show runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance.
For more information and tickets, go to The Phoenix Artist.

Tampa Museum of Art showcases antiquities collection

“Joseph Veach Noble: Through the Eye of a Collector” at the Tampa Museum of Art features 85 pieces from the museum’s permanent collection of ancient Roman and Greek art. 

A renovation project that added gallery space allowed the museum to put the additional pieces on display. Add the new exhibition to the more than 500 pieces that were already on display and this the largest proportion of the permanent antiquities collection on display at one time.  

The Tampa Museum of Art acquired 175 pieces from Noble’s collection in 1986. They became the cornerstone of the museum’s renowned antiquities collection. The current exhibition is also the first dedicated display of Noble’s collection of Greek and Italian vases since the inaugural exhibition in 1986.

“Joseph Veach Noble: Through the Eye of a Collector” is on display through February 19, 2026.

For more information, go to Joseph Veach Noble Through the Eyes of a Collector.

WMNF 88.5 FM Tropical Heatwave.

Tropical Heatwave, community radio station WMNF 88.5 FM’s “eclectic music festival extravaganza,” returns to the Cuban Club in Ybor City on Saturday, May 4th. 

Retro blues rockers The Record Company, female-led soul group Say She She, blues and folk singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster and punk band The Dollyrotts. Bluesman Selwyn Birchwood, world music group WAHH World Fusion Band and rock band Black Valley Moon are some of the Tampa Bay-area acts on the bill.  The music runs from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. with 16 acts performing on three stages at the historic Cuban Club. There’s a Hip Hop Lounge in the Cuban Club theater, with WMNF DJs and guest speakers discussing the influence of 50 years of hip-hop. There will also be local art and food vendors.

For more information and tickets, go to Tropical Heatwave.
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Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.