March arts roundup: Gasparilla Festival of the Arts kicks off a busy month in Tampa Bay

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

It’s Gasparilla arts season. 

The award-winning Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts returns for its 53rd year on March 4th and 5th. Activating the 25-acre Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park in downtown Tampa, the festival attracts over 30,000 visitors. Part of the weekend programming includes the Emerging Artists Program, which provides selected new artists from all over the world with an exceptional opportunity to showcase their work for the first time in a professional setting. 
“A lot of people think of an emerging artist as someone who is just out of college,” says Clay Hollenkam, festival co-chair and a member of the Emerging Artists Committee. “But many new artists are actually older pursuing a second or third career.”

Applications for the program are accepted from anywhere. This year there were nearly 200 submissions.

“The widespread distribution of the applications says a lot about how artists all over the country see not only our festival, but also how they see Tampa Bay as a place where the arts are appreciated and as an arts destination,” Hollenkamp says. 
The candidate pool was then juried for outstanding work, just like the main show. The 15 artists selected for Gasparilla Festival of the Arts Emerging Artists Program Class of 2023 are: Chloe St. Aubin, Kyra Connolly, Y.D., Michael R. Stevenson, Valerie Lamott, Sketzii, Erin Titus, Madie Gotshall, Christopher Roll, Nathalia Toledo, William Keeling, Nat Pagan, Gary Greer, Ashley Rivers and Damien LaRue.

The program, this year sponsored by Amalie Oil Company, provides artists a free booth to display in and a $350 stipend to outfit their booth. There is a $1,500 Emerging Artist prize for best of show. The initiative is intended to let new artists experience what the touring artist lifestyle is like and provide an introduction to the business of professional artists. The program includes mentoring events with gallerists, interior designers and other industry professionals to learn more about how artwork is sold and placed. 

“Come discover the emerging artists this year,” Hollenkamp urges. “Artists who have participated in this program have gone on to do great things. Get to know them now because the next time you see them it may be in a gallery or in the media.”

The March 2023 Festival showcases professional artists from across the nation and their work includes ceramic, digital, drawing, fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, watercolor and wood. The juried festival will award $92,000 in prize money and provide a weekend full of live entertainment for visitors, all free to the public. 

For more information, go to Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

"Echoes of Her" with Moving Current Dance Collective - March 2-5 

The Moving Current Dance Collective performs “Echoes of Her,” a heartwarming collection of stories told through theater and dance about what we inherit from the feminine forces that have guided or misguided us in the past, is March 2nd through 5th at the Hillsborough Community College Ybor City Campus Studio Theatre.

Performers include Lillian Almodovar, Shana Elizabeth Donahue, Zoë Gallon, Gloria de Luna, Ruben Andres Castillo Gomez, Celeste Silsby Mannerud and Erte’ Eric M. Stillings. “Echoes of Her” is 7:30 p.m. on March 2nd, 3rd and 4th and 2 p.m. on March 5th.

For more information and ticket details, go to Moving Current Dance Collective.

Kirk Ke Wang exhibits "Snow in September" at HCC Gallery221

Multimedia artist Kirk Ke Wang debuts a new body of work created for a solo spring exhibition at HCC Gallery221 on the Dale Mabry campus. In “Snow in September,” the artist explores the resilience of humanity to find and make beauty in the aftermath of tragedy. 

Wang splits his time between residences in Tampa and New York. On a walk through the lower east side, he noticed 9/11 memorials and recalled memories of footage from that tragic day showing debris and ash that rained down like snow. This made Wang, originally from Shanghai, China, recall a 13th-century Chinese play called “The Injustice to Dou E.”  Also known as “Snow in Midsummer,” the play retells the tragic and unjust death of Lady Dou E, which causes the heavens to snow during a hot midsummer day, thereby proving her innocence.

Today, the story symbolizes injustice and tragedy, and in Wang's exhibition “Snow in September,” the artist parallels the Chinese fable with abstracted images of more recent tragedies such as 9/11, calling to mind the moment when the twin towers collapsed, and debris rained down like falling snow. Through retelling tragedies, Wang tries to find a spiritual solace and the meaningfulness of being human.

“I don’t just want to portray a tragedy for the sake of retelling it,” he says. “I want to share how humans transcend pain into beauty. I want to show the beauty of humanity.” 

For “Snow in September,” Wang first painted on large canvases scenes with ruin, debris and the aftermath of tragedy. He then with care layers on designs for a final abstract painting of beauty, leaving the original tragic scene barely recognizable. 

Wang’s show will incorporate multi-media elements that enhance the atmosphere, including the opera which inspired the piece wafting in the air. “Snow in September” runs from March 20th to May 11th. There is an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 23rd, with an artist talk at 6 p.m.

For more information, go to Snow in September.

Gasparilla International Film Festival 

The Gasparilla International Film Festival returns for its 16th year on March 23rd to 26th at the Tampa Theatre. While we eagerly await the line-up, tickets can be purchased online now. The three-day festival features the work of indie filmmakers from Florida and internationally. Often, this is a chance to have a first look at films before they reach popularity. 

For more information, go to Gasparilla Film Festival.

"When the Righteous Triumph" at Stageworks Theatre 

"When the Righteous Triumph," a new play by local playwright Mark E. Leib, is at Stageworks Theatre from March 17th to April 2nd. Set in Tampa during the civil rights lunch counter protests of the 1960s, the thought-provoking play takes you on a historical journey through the eyes of Tampa’s civil rights leaders at a time when their bravery and tenacity made an indelible impact on our community.  

The Tampa Bay History Center recently honored Clarence Fort, the featured character in “When the Righteous Triumph.” Fort organized the first sit-in movement in Tampa and went on to make major contributions to Tampa through his leadership. 

Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1961 speech at what was then the Fort Hesterly Armory in West Tampa is memorialized in photographer Lenny Foster's exhibit "Where We Stand."Joining the show is an exhibition of the photography of Lenny Foster, whose "Where We Stand" series chronicles Florida's civil rights history. The series originated in Saint Augustine, Florida in the historic township of Lincolnville. Foster began to explore a unique perspective of photographic storytelling by placing shoes, representing individuals and groups, in historical places throughout the city of Saint Augustine and later throughout Florida. Some of the series documents where civil rights leaders and advocates toured, like Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1961, King visited Tampa and spoke at what was then the Fort Hesterly Armory on Howard Avenue in West Tampa (it is now home to the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation). Foster memorialized this event in photos during a recent visit to Tampa.

“The decision to use shoes, as the vehicle for storytelling initially came as a result of the controversy surrounding the kneeling of professional athletes protesting racism in America,” Foster says in a description of the exhibition. “The imagery and text aim to show who we are and where we have been as a people in this area. This history is vast and rich and we have stood, sat and knelt for many a high and honorable cause, not to mention, the struggle for everyday existence.”

For more information, go to When the Righteous Triumph.

"Restrung: Contemporary Beadsmiths" at Parachute Gallery

In 2021, curator Jessica Todd published an article in Metalsmith magazine aimed at debunking the inferiority of beadwork in contemporary jewelry and art. “Restrung: Contemporary Beadsmiths” is a physical manifestation of Todd's research and a visually decadent installation of conceptual beadwork made by artists from a range of disciplines and backgrounds. The exhibition runs at Parachute Gallery in the Historic Kress Building Ybor City, 1624 E. Seventh Ave., through March 23rd. 

"I am drawn to the innate human impulse for the process, the malleability of the material, its painstaking production, and its relationship to individual and collective identity,” Todd says. “Restrung: Contemporary Beadsmiths seeks to celebrate and elevate beadwork, a topic rarely visited by national arts institutions." 

Curated by Jessica Todd, the exhibition features work by Catherine Blackburn (Terrace, British Columbia),  Hilary Hertzler (Philadelphia, PA), Matt Lambert (Stockholm, Sweden/Detroit, MI), Curtis Talwst Santiago (Munich, Germany) and Teresa Sullivan (Olympia, WA).Hilary Hertzler is one of the featured artists in the exhibition "Restrung: Contemporary Beadsmiths" at the Parachute Gallery in the Kress Building Ybor City.

Additionally, Parachute Gallery will be hosting a jewelry and metals meet-up on Thursday, March 2nd for anyone working in jewelry and metals. 

For more information, go to Parachute Gallery.  

H.B. Plant Museum annual Picnic in the Park

The H.B. Plant Museum at the University of Tampa rolls back the clock a century for an old-fashioned picnic on Sunday, March 5th in Plant Park. Bring a blanket, pack a picnic basket and invite family and friends to relax in the shade and enjoy continuous entertainment on Center Stage. Center Stage performers include Ovation!, Matt Weihmuller Jazz Trio, The Wandering Hours and many more. There are also art activities with the Paper Seahorse, Tampa Regional Artists and Arts4All.

Visit the Museum from noon to 5 pm. Enjoy the introductory video "The Tampa Bay Hotel: Florida's First Magic Kingdom," a complimentary audio tour, Upstairs/Downstairs Live Theater, and Tampa Bay Hotel Hunting and fishing guide Arthur Schleman.

For more information, go to Picnic in the Park.

"Civil Rights in the Sunshine State" at St. Petersburg Museum of History 

Often overlooked by the events in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, Florida played a major role in the nation’s Civil Rights movement. The St. Petersburg Museum of History presents some of the stories of brave Floridians who fought for equality in their new exhibit Civil Rights in the Sunshine State presented by Residences 400 Central. 

For more information, go to St. Petersburg Museum of History.

“Ancient Warriors,” Artwork by Amabel Riverón at the Studio@620

“Ancient Warriors," a collection of oil paintings focused on ancient and iconic warriors across various cultures, opens Friday, March 10th at the Studio@620 in St. Petersburg.

“I find history and ancient cultures endlessly fascinating, and the warrior cultures, in particular, have always captured my imagination,” the artist Amabel Riverón shares.The strength, courage, technical fighting skills, and discipline of these ancient warriors is something that is so different from our modern world that it feels almost like fantasy. I deeply admire the level of fierceness that all of them embodied, and my paintings seek to capture that essence.”

"Ancient Warriors" by Amabel Riverón is at the Studio@620 in St. PetersburgThe three largest paintings in the collection each have an accompanying short story that adds an intimate and captivating dimension to the work. Written by Christian Riverón, these stories offer a deeper look into the lives and mentality of the warriors depicted in the paintings. By bringing together the written word and visual art, the artist seeks to transport the viewer into a world of heightened emotion and imagination. 

The show opens on March 10th with a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Additional gallery hours will be 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. during the ArtWalk on Saturday, March 11th and by appointment. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, go to Studio@620.

Trashy Treasures March 18-19 at Dunedin Fine Art Center

Trashy Treasures, March 18th and 19th at the Dunedin Fine Art Center features the year’s best sale of art, art-related items and supplies. 

The event kicks off with a silent auction from March 1st through 18th. Register online for two weeks of online treasures for your consideration, culminating with bidding onsite at the Best of Trashies Party  Saturday, March 18th. On Sunday the 19th, enjoy Tampa Bay’s biggest and most beloved art garage sale to score incredible deals on art, art supplies, frames, books and more. 

Trashy Treasures is 6 p.m. on March 18th and 1 p.m. on March 19th at the Dunedin Fine Art Center, 1143 Michigan Blvd.

For more information, go to Trashy Treasures.

SPEAK Poetry Series and Open Mic at The Factory, St. Pete March 11 

Keep St. Pete Lit presents an evening of poetry in The Factory, St. Pete’s Library on March 11th. This month’s SPEAK Poetry Series and Open Mic features Mary Chris Bailey. As always, there will be an Open Mic so attendees can bring their own poems and “SPEAK” or just come listen.

This event is part of the second Saturday ArtWalk and is produced by Keep St. Pete Lit.

Mary Chris Bailey is a retired pediatric emergency medicine physician. She attended medical school, trained in pediatrics at Oregon Health Sciences University, and completed her pediatric emergency medicine fellowship at Boston University. She was an attending physician at Children’s Hospital Boston and held a clinical appointment at the Harvard School of medicine. She established a pediatric emergency medicine program at Newton Wellesley Hospital, serving as the Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. The state of Massachusetts appointed her as the director of Emergency Medical Services for Children.

During her medical career, she co-authored journal articles, wrote textbook chapters, co-edited the pediatric section of an emergency medicine textbook and wrote a parent’s advice column for a local paper. She now devotes her time to creative writing and is editing her completed memoir. She is currently serving as a guest poetry editor for 805 Art and Lit. Her work has appeared in Please See Me, Pulse, Defenestration, The Artisan and others.

For more information, go to SPEAK Poetry Series and Open Mic.

Clearwater, USF launch ARTours Clearwater virtual reality mural tour

The city of Clearwater and the University of South Florida are launching ARTours Clearwater, a self-guided, augmented reality walking tour of four downtown murals, with a community celebration during The Market Marie, 10 a.m. to  2 p.m. Saturday, March 11th at Cleveland Street and Garden Avenue.

ARTours is a collaboration between the Clearwater Community Redevelopment Agency and the USF Access 3d Lab and Advanced Visualization Center. The tour includes four vibrant murals along 0.7-mile walk downtown.ARTours Clearwater is an augmented reality tour of four vibrant downtown murals.

“When you reach a mural, open the ARTours Clearwater app and point your device’s camera at the artwork, a description on the ARTours website says. “Then watch as animations, graphics, videos, and audio make the mural come to life. Each mural contains several interactive visual experiences – you will see flowers blooming, alligators walking, spaceships landing and paint buckets spilling while experiencing the downtown arts district as never before.”

For more information, go to ARTours Clearwater.

CAMP brings International New Music Festival to Tampa Bay March 16-18
The Contemporary Art Music Project (CAMP) presents its second international new music festival, CAMPGround23, March 16th to 18th at venues around Tampa Bay. The festival hosts four concerts, two world premieres, 28 selected composers and 16 performing artists from around the world. CAMPGround23 showcases a wide range of music by living composers, including music installations, electroacoustic music and solo and ensemble works.

CAMP will present a world premiere of the installation piece, “Sandbox Dreams,” by Badie Khaleghian, Ben Howard, Caroline Owen and Daniel Smith, on the first day of the festival at Tempus Projects in the Ybor City Kress Building. There will be a world premiere of the trumpet concerto, “Caged Dream of Stuffed Ludwig,” by Sangbin Rhie,  on the second day at The Factory, St. Pete.

The interdisciplinary festival includes a collaboration with the Tampa City Ballet to bring unique performance arts to the Tampa Bay audience.

“I am a pianist who has worked with living composers for many years,” CAMP co-founder Eunmi Ko shares.  “I realized that Tampa does not have a new music organization that advocates art music by contemporary composers. Also, I was always interested in other genres like visual arts, dance, film, etc. I wanted to collaborate with other arts organizations in Tampa. This is how I started CAMP with my colleagues Benjamin D. Whiting and Alex Shanafelt. Three of us founded CAMP in 2021, and Ania Vu joined us this year.”
The schedule is:

Thursday, March 16 at 7:30 pm, Tempus Projects, Ybor City.
Friday, March 17 at 2 pm, The Factory, St. Petersburg - FREE ADMISSION.
Friday, March 17 at 7:30 pm, The Factory, St. Petersburg.
Saturday, March 18 at 4 pm, CAMPGround, Tampa.
For more information, go to Contemporary Art Music Project.
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Read more articles by Michele Smith.

Michele Smith is a writer based in Tampa since the ’90s. She has a degree in International Business & Fine Art from the University of Tampa and has contributed to numerous start-up ventures in the Tampa Bay area. Her writing is influenced by a local and global perspective. Topics of interest include arts leadership, business development, creativity and innovation and wellness. Michele is also the Executive Director of the nonprofit Tampa Arts Alliance.