May arts roundup: Water exhibits, famous photographers, quilts, burlesque, fiberart and more

It is no secret that Florida is home to beautiful and diverse waterways.

The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at St. Petersburg College is opening two summer exhibitions on May 21st which highlight the need to protect these waterways from impending harm.

The exhibition Balance of Water: Carol Mickett & Robert Stackhouse explores the effects of climate change and the warming of our waters. This exhibition can be found in the North, South, and Center Galleries.

“Balance of Water: Carol Mickett & Robert Stackhouse explores the unseen forces in nature that keep our planet in check and envisions what could happen when imbalance pushes these forces to the brink,” says Christine Renc-Carter, curator for the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. “Mickett and Stackhouse have created a forum for dialogue where art and science converge. Their monumental paintings push the conversation of climate change in new directions in a visually poetic way that is all-encompassing, yet intimate in feeling.”

The exhibition Florida’s Waterways: Homage to Tarpon Springs includes a collection of paintings and sculptures by local renowned artists. These pieces complement the Balance of Water exhibition by showcasing marine life and climate change in Florida. This exhibition can be found in the Atrium Gallery.

“As the Gulf Stream loops south towards the equator, the journey continues through Florida’s Waterways: Homage to Tarpon Springs with works focused on our southern waters by renowned local artists Christopher Still, Bill Renc, Allen Leepa and others,” Renc-Carter says. “The climate crisis becomes all too real with educational text and QR Codes that encourage scientific inquiry.”

What else is going on in May?
The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art is bringing together the renowned works of landscape photographers Ansel Adams and Clyde Butcher in side-by-side exhibitions. Ansel Adams: The Masterworks and Clyde Butcher: America the Beautiful examine the relationship between one and nature through rendered black and white photographs of the American landscape. The special exhibitions are included with museum admission and will run until July 31st. Museum admission can be purchased here.
Florida CraftArt is showcasing the creativity of 29 members of the Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. (SAQA) in the exhibition The Artist’s Question… Answered in Fiber. Each artist was provided with the challenge of answering a question or grappling with an issue through original quilt art. Although all artists were provided with the same challenge, the resulting collection of pieces is riveting and diverse. The exhibition will run until May 14th at the Florida CraftArt gallery in St. Petersburg. SAQA artists will discuss their stitched layered creations on May 4th at 6 p.m. on Zoom.
Hoping to experience something magical this month? Welcome to Dragwarts 2: A Harry Potter Drag and Burlesque Show will bring the charm of the wizarding world to St. Pete Shuffle on May 5th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Attendees will be able to enjoy the show and participate in Harry Potter bingo and trivia. General admission tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and include entry to the show and one bingo card. Tickets can be purchased here.
All funds raised will benefit the nonprofit Wordier Than Thou, which supports writers and readers in the Tampa Bay Area and in Florida.
“We eschew that stuffy, capital “L” notion of literature and welcome everyone from all backgrounds and interests,” says Tiffany Razzano, president and founder of Wordier Than Thou. “While we work with authors of literary fiction, of course, we also do a lot with genre writers (sci fi, fantasy, horror, romance, mystery, etc.) All writers are welcome and everyone is on the same playing field when they’re at a Wordier event. As for the events themselves, we blur the lines of what a literary event is. Stories can be celebrated and experienced in so many different ways.”
The fifth annual OPUS Tampa fine art exhibition will be held on Friday, May 6th to showcase the work of talented artists from the greater Tampa area. The show is from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. with early access starting at 6 p.m. for the sensory-sensitive. The juried art exhibition will be hosted at the Tampa Covenant Church. More information can be found here.
Bring your own DIY lantern and light up the Tampa Bay skies on May 7th at 8:30 p.m. Tampa Riverfest is launching the first-ever Riverfest Lantern Parade that will start at Water Works Park and end at Curtis Hixon Park. The parade is free to attend and registrations can be made here. More information about the parade can be found here.
The Market Marie is an outdoor farmers’ and artisan market located in Downtown Clearwater. The market will feature over 50 talented local vendors on May 14th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free to the public and is located on the Corner of Court and Myrtle. More information about parking and the market can be found here.
Looking for a night filled with music? The Tampa Oratorio Singers is a concert chorus of 60+ voices from around the Tampa Bay Area. The talented singers will be performing selections from The Sound of Music on May 22nd at 6 p.m. The fundraising concert will be held at the Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church and tickets can be purchased here.
The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is opening the first solo museum exhibition of multidisciplinary Bahamian artist Gio Swaby on May 28th. Gio Swaby: Fresh Up explores the relationship between Blackness and womanhood in her pieces which incorporate textile-based techniques. More information about the exhibition can be found here.
Historic Lead Donation
The Tampa Museum of Art is transforming the arts in Tampa Bay through the Museum’s Centennial Capital Campaign for Renovation and Expansion. The renovation and expansion began during the museum's 100th-anniversary celebration in 2020. The Tampa Museum of Art received an extraordinary gift of a landmark $25 million donation from Dick Corbett to support the renovation and expansion. The lead donation will enhance the visitor experience and the future of the arts in the Tampa Bay Area.
Call to Artists

The City of Tampa has posted two Call to Artists, both of which are due May 13th. The first Call to Artists is a request for qualifications for the renovation of the Tampa Convention Center. Site opportunities include:
  • Large-scale two-dimensional artwork for three elevated bays / Budget: $250,000
  • Suspended Artwork / Budget: $400,000
  • Entrance locations for East and West Halls: $50,000 each
  • Purchase of Existing Artwork / Budget: $450,000
Interested artists can apply here.

The second Call to Artists is a request to purchase existing works of art for the renovation of the Tampa Convention Center. The City of Tampa is looking to purchase and install a body of work that embodies the cultural essence and beauty of Tampa.
Interested artists can apply here.
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Read more articles by Meghan Christopher.

Meghan Christopher is a graduating senior at the University of Tampa pursuing a degree in advertising and public relations. Originally from Palm Harbor, her dream job is to work for a public relations agency dedicated to social change. Meghan also is on the digital communications committee for PRSA Tampa Bay and currently works as a public relations intern for Lynn Public Relations. Meghan enjoys painting, spending time with friends, and finding new places to explore in the Tampa Bay Area.