April arts roundup: Spring Ybor Arts Tour blooms

Spring Ybor City Arts Tour

The Ybor Arts Tour expands from an annual event to a twice-a-year happening in April with the first springtime jaunt through Ybor’s art district.

The inaugural Spring Ybor Arts Tour on April 18th will hit more than 20 venues and 14 artist studios. It builds on prior tours in October 2022 and 2023 that showcased an arts scene reinvigorated by the arts hub that’s taken root at the historic Ybor Kress Building on the 1600 block of East Seventh Avenue.

“There was such a huge response to the tour last October, we decided doing it twice a year six months apart would be beneficial to everybody,” says Tracy Midulla, with art gallery Tempus Projects and the Kress Contemporary. “That was an idea that was wildly popular among the participants, the venues and the individual artists. We had so much foot traffic. It was such a success and so many people were interested that we decided twice a year sounds good. And the weather is still decent in April.”

Like the last two years, the Kress Building and Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor campus will be major parts of the tour. But there is a slew of new venues this Improv comedy club The Commodore is a new addition to the Ybor Arts Tour.time around. Coastal Film Lab, improv venue The Commodore, Bookends: Literature & Libations’ pop-up event at  Gasparilla Distillery, Dysfunctional Grace, Tampa Tunes, Blue Devil Tattoo, Orange Blossom Trading Company, Stone Soup Company and WestBuk Art Studio are among the new additions. 

“What I really enjoy about this lineup is that it gives such a wide scope of art in Ybor,” says Tampa artist and curator Michelle Sawyer, who organized this tour. “There are more traditional types of galleries but there are also places like Blue Devil Tattoo. There are people who would never step foot in a tattoo shop because they don’t have tattoos and have no other reason to go in there. But when you open the door, you make it clear that tattoo studios are art spaces. It’s a different type of art space and making it more inviting and accessible to people is really cool.”

 At the Bookends pop-up event, Tyler Gillespie will read a selection from his collection “Florida Man: Poems, Revisited;” comic book artist Adam Riches will display his art and discuss comic books as art; author Paul Wilborn will talk about his experiences as a founder of The Artists and Writers Ball, which was held in Ybor City during the '70s and  '80s; and Sydney Jordan from USF's Special Collections Department will have an exhibit of The Artists and Writers Ball and zines as a literary art form. 

At Lab Theater Project, which was part of the October 2023 tour, the cast of “Fly Away Home,” an upcoming play about Frank Lloyd Wright, will be rehearsing and paintings by local artists will be on display in the gallery/lobby.The first Spring Ybor Arts Tour has several more venues than the 2023 Ybor Arts Tour did last October.

At HCC Ybor, you can check out theater, dance and music performance spaces and the 50th annual HCC Student Juried Art Exhibition.

The Kress will be a hub of activity. There’s the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts on the first floor, gallery spaces on the second floor, including REVERB, a new gallery run by students in the USF Master of Fine Arts program,  and artist studios on the third floor.

Tempus Projects’ current artist-in-residence Michael Murphy, who goes by “Bichael Burphy” while in Tampa to avoid confusion with the well-known local gallery owner, will also have an interactive video installation displayed on a 32-foot-wide, 9-foot-high wall on the second floor.

“I’ll be doing something called a generative video,” Murphy says. “It’s an algorithm that I’m creating that essentially creates imagery and that imagery morphs and evolves over time. As this piece is evolving, there will be an area where the audience can stand and their movements while they are in this area will be reflected in the video.”

The Sarasota-based Murphy was previously the technical director at the Sarasota Opera House but left that position last October to pursue his passion for art full-time.

“When you’ve produced massive operas that are selling out, it’s great,” he says. “However, when you have art that you want to create and show, the schedules don’t necessarily allow you to produce the opera and show your art. You have to make a tough decision.”

Visit Tampa Bay is the destination sponsor for the Ybor Spring Arts Tour.

For more information, go to Ybor Arts Tour.

 New Tampa Performing Arts Center events

The USF New Tampa Jazz Series continues on April 4th as saxophonist Jack Wilkins, USF’s longtime director of jazz studies, debuts his new recording, “Acadian Rhythms.” 

“For his seventh album, the music grew from his experience in 2022 as artist-in-residence at Acadia National Park in Maine and reflects the beauty and the stories he discovered there,” an event description says.

The 11-member ensemble performing on April 4th boasts major players from the Tampa Bay area and central Florida and special guests including drummer Danny Gottlieb.

For tickets, go to Tampa Jazz Club.

The New Tampa Players Penguin Project and Ampersand Theatre present “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” on April 19th, 20th and 21st. The Penguin Project is a theater program for children and young adults with special needs and Ampersand Theatre is for adults with disabilities. Every role in the production is performed by artists with disabilities, supported by peer mentors.

For more information, go to New Tampa Players.

The Simon Lasky Group performs material from their latest album “For The Dreamers,” plus brand-new material from Lasky’s jazz octet, comprising some of the finest players from the Tampa Bay area jazz scene. General admission tickets are $15.

For tickets, go to New Tampa tickets.

The New Tampa Unplugged series features Reflections Chamber Ensemble at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 28th. The ensemble presents chamber music from the 20th and 21st centuries with a focus on new music that audiences may not have heard. Tickets are $13 for a theater seat and $15 for a table seat. 

For tickets, go to New Tampa tickets.

Smithsonian Institution “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America”

The Smithsonian Institution’s “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” traveling exhibit is at the Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center in Tampa through May 19th.

“'Voices and Votes' is based on a major exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History,” an event description reads. “This Museum on Main Street adaptation will have many of the same dynamic features: historical and contemporary photos; educational and archival video; engaging multimedia interactives with short games and additional footage, photos, and information; and historical objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material.”

In April and May, the museum will host four public programs on topics related to the exhibit. Each program begins at 2 p.m. on a Sunday. The schedule is "Racial Subordination & the Meaning of Democracy (April 7); "Politicking Politely: Women Making a Difference in the 1960s and 1970s (April 21); "The Act That Runied America, and How to Fix It" (May 5); and "Contemporary Challenges to Immigrant Rights" (May 19).   

"The underlying theme of this exhibition is that democracy requires participation," Florida Humanities Assistant Director Patricia Putman says in a press statement. "With 2024 being another critical election year in our state and our country, this exhibit and the associated public programming will help visitors not only better understand the historical origins of democracy in this country but why it's critical for citizens to remain engaged in the democratic process."

The traveling exhibit is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program. Florida Humanities has been a Museum on Main Street affiliate since 2012, providing support for more than 64 exhibitions statewide, including “Voices and Votes.”

For more information, go to Voices and Votes.

Viniks sponsor free tickets to Fairgrounds, St. Pete for schools, nonprofits 

Jeff and Penny Vinik’s Vinik Foundation is providing Tampa Bay schools and nonprofits with 24,000 free tickets to Fairgrounds, St. Pete.

For a year, the “Art for All” program will provide 2,000 complimentary tickets a month for public schools and approved nonprofits to go to the immersive art and technology museum.

For more information or to apply, go to Art for All.

Sean Cliver art show at The Bricks

Renowned skate artist Sean Cliver, known for his innovative skateboard graphics in the 1990s, has an art show at The Bricks in Ybor City at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 5th. The show is part of the festivities for Skatepark of Tampa’s 30th annual Tampa Pro weekend, which runs April 4th through 7th.

For more information, go to Skatepark of Tampa.

Exhibits at Tempus Projects

Tempus Projects has four exhibitions on display through May 2nd at its galleries in the historic Ybor City Kress Building.

“The Endless Passage,” a solo show by Angelika Kollin, is at DRIFT, an independent curator space. OXH Gallery is the curator for the show, which opened in March to mark Women’s History Month.

“Widely acclaimed for her ongoing project ‘Mary’s Children,’ Angelika will take over the gallery with medium-scale works that aren't based on a particular series but share a common concern with the challenges women face in asserting themselves against societal expectations and biases based on gender or race,” an exhibit description says.

"Just as Your Ship's Drifting in They're Pushing Out the Tide,” a group show juried by Jenal Dolson, is at TEMPUS VOLTA. Dolson is a Chicago-based artist and arts professional who earned an MFA in 2020 from the University of South Florida.  The show showcases works from artists Gina Lee Robins, Amber Toplisek, Ian Wilson, Justin Quaid, Brandin Vance, Jared Ragland, Amy Jones and Elizabeth Molitor.

“La Florida: Improbable Stories” at Tempus Projects features the work of Miami-based artist and interdisciplinary cultural practitioner Onajide Shabaka. Shabaka has participated in several international artist residencies, including self-made ones.

“These residencies, including the self-made ones, often coincide with an intentional walk, a meditative part of Shabaka’s practice that he frames as performance,” an exhibit description says. “Some of these include walks in the Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor along the coast between Georgia South Carolina, and Florida; Mangrove Walk in Greynolds Park, North Miami Beach, FL; the BWCA, Superior National Forest, Minnesota; and African Rice & Maroon Subsistence Farming Residency,
Paramaribo, Suriname.

"You Can't Hear It, but We're Cheering For You"at Tempus Projects main gallery presents the recent works of Tempus Projects resident artist George Ferrandi.

“George Ferrandi is an American artist whose participatory projects address issues of vulnerability, impermanence, fallibility, and spectacle, often through experimental approaches to narrative,” an exhibit description says. “Employing unique humor and a deep sense of humanity, her work ranges in form and scale from a simple gesture–like resting her head on the shoulder of a stranger on the subway, to a giant spectacle–like parading with hundreds through the streets of South Philly. It’s often a collaborative experiment in storytelling, with participants becoming performers or even creating the narrative." 

For more information, go to Tempus Projects current exhibits.

50th annual HCC Student Juried Exhibition

The 50th annual HCC Student Juried Exhibition is on display at Gallery114@HCC Ybor from April 11th through May 2nd. The opening reception is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 11th, with the show’s awards ceremony at 7 p.m.

“The diversity of media entered by HCC’s students and the instruction of HCC’s art faculty combine to make the Annual HCC Student Juried Art Exhibition a challenging, exciting show,” a description says. ”Now in its 50th year, featured artworks span the many disciplines of HCC’s School of Visual and Performing Arts, such as photography, design, digital media, printmaking, drawing, painting, sculpture and more.”

For more information, go to HCC current exhibitions.

Old Seminole Heights Home Tour

The Old Seminole Heights Home Tour, Tampa’s longest-running home tour, returns for a 24th year on Sunday, April 7th.

“The tour will highlight the northwest corner of Old Seminole Heights and will feature
seven homes, two local businesses, and two history sites on the beautiful Hillsborough River,” a press release says. “The self-guided walking and biking tour will give attendees an insider view of the magnificent restoration work and diverse architectural styles that give the Seminole Heights community its  unique character…The self-guided walking and biking tour will feature historic bungalows, mid-century, and newly built homes that date from the 1920s all the way to 2019. The tour will be located on  neighborhood streets, west of Florida Ave. and north of Sligh Ave, inside a bend of the  Hillsborough River.”

Self-guided tours begin at the American Legion Seminole Post 111, 6918 N. Florida Ave., and run from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 on the day of the tour. The Old Seminole Heights Home Tour helps raise money for the nonprofit organization TRIBE Seminole Heights, which provides learning activities and resources for area children and families.

For tickets, go to Old Seminole Heights Home Tour

American Stage in the Park

American Stage in the Park returns to Demens Landing on the St. Petersburg waterfront from April 3rd through May 5th. This year, the theater company is putting
on a musical production of  Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

For more information, go to American Stage.

Earth Day mural in Gulfport

On Sunday, April 7th, Gulfport artist Hao Penghe will celebrate Earth Day by leading a community mural painting project. Adults and children will help paint a 15-foot by 10-foot mural on the side of Penghe’s Grounded Gallery, 5012 Gulfport Blvd. The event is scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, go to Gulfport Earth Day mural.

“Common Ground: Finding Connections Within Our Human Struggle” at SPAACES

“Common Ground: Finding Connections Within Our Human Struggle” is at SPAACES in Sarasota from April 5th through April 27th. The opening reception is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 5th. 

The exhibit is a colboartion between SPAACES Art Foundation, the FACEing Mental Illness project, which is led by Sarasota Herald-Tribune columnist Carrie Seidman, and SRQ Strong, a community group working to increase awareness about the impact of trauma and promote healing.

“The goal of the project and exhibition is to reduce prejudice and discrimination against anyone who has struggled with trauma, thoughts, feelings or any diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health condition,” a description says. “Participants will be paired to create a work of art, in any medium, that explores the commonalities in their mental health experiences. It is open to anyone whose mental health challenges have had a significant impact on their life”.

This exhibition builds on the foundation “Faceing Mental Illness: The Art of Acceptance,” an art and journalism project in 2016-17 that culminated in an exhibition at Sarasota’s Selby Public Library of self-portraits created by people with mental health challenges. 

For ticket information, go to Common Ground tickets.

Exhibits, and events at Woodson Museum

"Sister Gertrude Morgan: A Ministry of Divergence” is on display at the Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum of Florida until May.

Morgan was born Gertrude Williams and lived from 1900 to 1980. During her life, she traveled from Alabama to New Orleans, a city she declared the “headquarters of sin,” an exhibit description says. She set out to spread the Gospel through painting, music and "powerful oration."

“The exhibition ‘Sister Gertrude Morgan: A Ministry of Divergence’ offers visitors an immersive experience of Sister Morgan’s multifaceted ministry, showcasing her unique blend of art, music, and poetry,” a description says. “Her works, rich in religious symbolism and personal testament, challenge conventional boundaries between the sacred and the secular, inviting viewers to explore the depths of faith and creativity.”

Lifting the Veil with Dr. Martha Bireda, the latest event in the Sit A Spell Conversations X Pa'Lante Series: Black Voices in the Humanities, is at is 6:30 p.m. on April 10th. The series features Black scholars, authors and educators.

“W.E.B. DuBois used the ‘veil’ as a metaphor for the color line of racial inequalities and injustice in the United States,” a description says. “The ‘veil’ symbolizes the culturally conditioned narrative that prevents the larger society from seeing the virtues, values, strengths, agency, and contributions of African Americans. Through her stories, Dr. Martha R. Bireda presents a narrative that demonstrates the intellect, courage, determination, strength, ingenuity, grace, and dignity of the African American.”

Bireda is a writer, lecturer and living history performer. She is the current director of the Blanchard House Museum of African American History and Culture of Charlotte County. 

The event also features Patrick Arthur Jackson, the manager of education, outreach, and program design at the Woodson Museum, and book reviewer and essayist. 
Silk Jazmyne Hindus.

At 6 p.m. on April 11th, there is a screening of “Chronicles of Color: Underground History,” a documentary film “designed to explore connections between St. Petersburg’s diverse cultural history and emerging community efforts to acknowledge the past in charting the future.”

Following the screening, a conversation on highlighting the importance of historic preservation will feature Gwendolyn Reese, president of the African American Heritage Association of St. Petersburg, Bob Austin of the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education, Thomas Hallock, a professor of English, Literature & Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida, storyteller and St. Pete resident Wanda Stuart, Polita Glynn, director of the Merfolk Media Alliance and “Underground History filmmaker, and “Underground History” filmmaker Devin Rice. 

“Nollywood Dreams” at freeFall Theatre

“Nollywood Dreams,” a romantic comedy set in 1990s Lagos, Nigeria’s “Nollywood” film industry, is at freeFall Theatre in St. Petersburg from April 12th through May 12th. 

“This laugh-out-loud romantic comedy follows the story of Ayamma, a young woman who works with her sister at their parent’s travel agency, who dreams of leaving her job and becoming a star,” a description says. “When she auditions for a new film by Nigeria’s hottest director, tension flares with his former leading lady, and sparks fly with Nollywood’s biggest heartthrob.”

For more information, go to freeFall Theatre.

Also in April at freeFall, Broadway star Becky Gulsvig debuts her new cabaret show on Thursday, April 25th. Gulsvig has recently performed in Tampa with the national tours of “Come From Away” and “Legally Blonde the Musical” and in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”

Her Broadway credits include being in the original cast of “Legally Blonde the Musical” and the Neil Diamond biographical musical “A Beautiful Noise,” along with productions of “School of Rock,” “Come From Away” and “Hairspray.”

For more information, go to freeFall Theatre.

“Hamlet” at The Studio@620

The Studio@620 in St. Petersburg presents William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” in late April and early May.

This will be the final play Bob Devin Jones will direct at The Studio@620 after a twenty-year tenure as artistic director. It is the third time he has helmed “Hamlet.”

"Third time is a charm,” Jones says in a press release. “I find the play artistically, the most daunting thing I ever do so I thought I would ascend the mountain one more time. I find that I learn not only about the play and the polemics of the play but I learn about myself, so I wanted to give myself that challenge."

A preview performance is April 25th. From April 26th through May 5th, regular performances are 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. General admission tickets are $50. Member tickets are $45.

To purchase tickets, go to The Studio@620 tickets.

Drew Merritt exhibit at Bern’s

A permanent exhibit featuring seven pieces by painter and mural artist Drew Merritt debuts in the lounge and bar area of Tampa’s Bern’s Steak House in mid-April. 
“Merritt's contemporary yet timeless pieces pay homage to Bern's history while hinting at its future,” a description says. The exhibition is produced through a partnership with CASS Contemporary.
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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.