5 Art World Trends Yet to Roll Through Tampa Bay

Trends rise and fall in the art world, each (hopefully) a step toward the best art we can collectively make.  Some, though, don’t seem to have stopped by our little art world by the bay just yet.  I’ve listed five here and some of their inevitable (and awesome) exceptions.  I honestly don’t intend this piece to deride my beloved art scene.  Rather, it should serve to highlight those that are pushing our envelopes for us, and let’s say a personal wish list of the kind of art I’d love to see even more often.

1. Smaller, Subtler, and Subdued

If there is one actual overarching trend generally making its way through the art world at the moment it’s this.  This ‘trend’ was detailed by Jerry Saltz in his survey of the Whitney Biennial last year.  Perhaps it’s in reaction to the post-2008 market collapse, or maybe it’s a response to the swelling art market.  Regardless, a lot of artwork seems to have pulled itself inward, scrapped the factory staff, and scaled down its dimensions.  The sell-out show stopper pieces are just a bit fewer.  Also, as Saltz points out artists are more frequently looking for routes around irony and cynicism without relying on sentimentality or over simplification.  The best of this work is a refreshing respite from the out-of-control market hype of the past few years.

In terms of scale, most local work is relatively under control.  However, I suspect this is more closely tied to limited resources and venues than aesthetic concerns.  Subtlety, though, is a virtue rarely praised, often passed over for gimmicks and quick reactions.

Exceptions:  A notable exception is perhaps one of favorite local artists (I’m still considering her one of us though she’s now based in NYC): Ryann Slauson.  Slauson created a piece that I’ll always regret not purchasing.  On a pedestal sat a deflated basketball constructed from paper mache, each dimple carefully painted on.  The ball sat there lonely and perfectly useless.  Much like this particular piece, her work generally has a peculiar way of being earnest without being sentimental, smart but not cynical, and serious but not stuffy.  Her understated work asks for time, and returns on what you give it.

2. Net Art/New Media

Computer art has arguably been around since the 1950’s – even Andy Warhol joined the party as early as the mid-1980’s.  It’s at this moment, though, that it is growing out of novelty and into respected form.  Considering the amount of time that we spend on the internet and the profound changes it has made to the way we live we may rightly say, “About time.”  GIF’s, Tumblr, social networks, interactive sites, among many other forms are becoming standards of the heady fringes of art and are poised to enter the mainstream.

The reasons Net Art and New Media have been virtually absent from the Tampa Bay scenes are most likely practical ones.  Locally, artists that can also code are a bit of a curiosity.  Also, there are the complexities of exhibiting and selling work that is typically confined to a computer monitor.  Though, I’d like to see this trend roll through more than the others, I fear it may be one we won’t see for a while.  Somebody prove me wrong!

Exceptions:  Artist Hunter Payne is an unapologetic fan of the interwebs.  I realize that sounds absurdly vague but there honestly isn’t any better way to say it.  He’s produced several new media pieces, GIFs, and “games”.  Further, he curated the exhibit TRU_RL: Tight Artists Offline at Studio@620 – an amazing group exhibit featuring the work of artists from the Net Art quasi-collective known as Tight Artists.  This was one of the area’s rare exhibits that would’ve even been too hip even for the Chelsea white boxes.  I’d pay money to see a show like this again.

3.  Contemporary Art Fairs

2012 seems to have been the year of the art fair – oddly both for the art world’s unabashed revelry in and simultaneous hating on the institution.  Regardless of where you fall on the opinion spectrum, these fairs act as more than just a venue for the obscenely rich to relieve themselves of wads cash.  Contemporary art fairs serve as a time for the art world to gather together and figure out where this crazy thing called contemporary art is headed.

I realize it is unrealistic for Tampa to ever be home to anything the size of Miami’s Art Basel and its satellite fairs.  Still, I don’t think it’s unrealistic for us to host a quality Contemporary Art Fair.  Consider relatively similarly sized cities.  Washington D.C. has Emerge, Houston has Texas Contemporary, San Francisco has artMRKT.  I hate to say it but the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts (Tampa) and the Mainsail Art Festival (St. Petersburg) don’t count.  They are frankly little more than temporary art flea markets (though, I suppose in a way, the same argument can be made of Art Basel.)

Exceptions:  I debated whether or not to even include this ‘trend’, because this is the single trend I could not pair with an exception.  Perhaps we can take a page from the playbook of the Anti-Warpt music festival.  That is, could a fledgling Contemporary Art Fair could coincide with the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts or Mainsail Art Festival to act as an alternative event?  I’d love to see that happen.

4. Shocking Art

It’s difficult calling this a trend or even using the word shocking.  Regardless, it came and went back in the 1970’s.  That’s forty years ago – I’m not sure if I really care to see it roll through town anymore.  In a way, at that time art stretched itself to lay claim to all it could be.  It sought to provoke moral sensibilities, upset ideas of art’s relationship with the market, and upend all assumptions about what art was and could be.  It was nearly a time when art could be shocking simply for the sake of shocking – at the time is was something the art dialectic needed to pass through.

Our scenes produce very little truly shocking work, and perhaps that’s alright.  It would be difficult to present that kind of art now without it appearing adolescent.  Maybe its time to make peace with the possibility that we’re just going to skip this important phase in art’s progression.

Exceptions:  Last October’s drama on the 600 Block and his recent dual exhibit Strange Fruit set artist Allen Leper Hampton apart as one exception.  His work has been some of the most shocking to local sensibilities.  Beyond that, though, I like to think his work teaches people to critically read art instead of simply reacting to it.

5. Post-Modern and Post-PoMo Concerns

There are several interesting topics and concerns that seem to receive scant attention in the Bay area – feminism, post-colonialism, Neo-Marxism, modern identity, immigration, and so on (and on and on).  These concerns address the most basic and important ways we interact with each other and how we process our environment.  They encourage us to question complacency, to ask if things can and should be different.

I realize these topics can sound terribly academic and deathly boring.  However, good contemporary art is much brainier than it has been in times past and demands its audience dedicate deep thought to it in addition to romantic feeling.  Further, these themes are much more relevant and less played out locally than themes of generic self-expression.  In a way, this kind of art is much more easy to relate to than the adolescent confessional work that seems to have acquired a strong foot hold locally.  I suppose it is the difference between artists talking about themselves and artists talking about all of us.

Exceptions:  Tempus Projects‘ recent exhibit, Piracy Redux, applied some of these concepts locally – the POD installations touched on topics such as Post-Colonialism, Marxist Historicism, Private Property, and power relations among others – it urged revisiting our local heritage and ideas of our collective self.  (Disclosure: I was a participating artist in Piracy Redux) Also, the work of artist Becky Flanders has addressed feminist issues in a way that’s been poorly lacking locally otherwise.  Her art often demands us to be confrontational with ourselves, in reconciling women with our deeply held archetype of woman.  Her work is a great example of art that can be very moving without relying on sentimentality.

5 Art World Trends Yet to Roll Through Tampa Bay

Tampa Weekend Art Guide

Tempus Projects – Between Earth and Sky

Tempus Projects – Between Earth and Sky

Opening reception Fri 10/19 7pm-10pm

Tempus Projects’ latest offering is the first exhibit from the Tampa Photography Collective.  The group meets monthly at the Tempus Projects space to share and discuss new work.  This show marks the first time they’ve exhibited as a group.

Good photography is difficult to come by and a medium not often seen at Tempus Projects.  This is partly why the exhibit would be especially worth a visit.  Also, though, the collective is made up of some very talented photographers – for example, check out Becky Flanders or Chris Otten.  This exhibit was specifically recommended in Creative Loafing’s Fall Arts Preview.  I suspect it won’t be difficult to see why.  I definitely suggest taking the opportunity to see all of these artists exhibiting together.

Tampa Museum of Art – Art After Dark

Fri 10/19 8pm-11pm $10

The TMoA’s quarterly art party, Art After Dark, is once again upon is.  This quarter’s installment features FIVE by FIVE, a benefit for the Arts Council of Hillsborough.  Over 600(?!) pieces of 5 x 5 inch art will be for sale at the cost of $25.  There is a bit of a catch, though: the artist’s name is only provided upon purchase.  Further, the “partial” list published on the event’s website contains over 340 artists (again, ?!).  Though it may be difficult sans names, look out for work from Neverne Covington, Vince Kral, Rebecca Sexton Larson, Kim Radatz, and Josette Urso.  This is one of those collecting opportunities that shouldn’t be missed: the art is wildly affordable and it benefits art grants.  It would be morally wrong to miss it.  Fair warning: I’m gunning for that Josette Urso.  If you’ve got your eye on her work I advise you get there early and be prepared to be challenged to the circle of death.

Tampa Weekend Art Guide

Tampa Weekend Art Guide 9/14 – 9/16

REDUCED5 at Tempus Projects

These introductory comments are surprisingly hard to write.  Some weeks I honestly have very little to say before moving on to the recommendations.  It must be a lot like writing the monologue every week at SNL.  But with a much smaller audience.  Actually, it’s probably nothing like that.  Anyhow, on to the art.

Tempus Projects – REDUCED5

Opening reception – Fri 9/14  7:30pm – 10pm

Tempus Projects officially begins it 2012-13 season this Friday night.  REDUCED5 is the fifth incarnation of a multimedia juried exhibit.  Artists generally limit their palette to black and white, and the price tag to $500 or less.  Kurt Piazza, the guest juror, also created REDUCED while with the Gulf Coast Museum of Art.

Lately, some of the most exciting art nationally  has been relatively sparse in color.  The recent trend of expression in understatement is especially welcome.  I trust Piazza’s taste and anticipate at least a few exceptional pieces that illustrate this tendency.  Also, the potential for especially good art at a price the 99% of us can afford makes REDUCED5 worth a visit tonight.

Becky Flanders, Vince Kral, and Ryann Slauson are just some of the artists that will be exhibiting.

Tampa Museum of Art – Art on the House

Fri 9/14  4pm – 8pm

This is the last week to catch two of TMoA‘s exhibits: A Hundred Years – A Hundred Chairs and Art of the Poison Pens.

I’m not particularly attracted to design exhibits.  I guess it’s a character deficiency I’ve made peace with.  A Hundred Chairs, though, was surprisingly interesting and relevant.  The exhibit effectively highlight the cultural subtext of design, the sociopolitical implications of chairs.  It sounds like art-speak, but how chairs are made, who makes them, and what they’re made from says a lot about the society sitting in them.  The exhibit, on loan from the Vitra Design Museum, expressed this well and kept me engrossed overall.

Art of the Poison Pens, however, I did not get a chance to see.  I cannot fairly mete out judgement on this exhibit.  I will say I was reluctant to make the trip downtown – the show seemed to be curated for maximal non-statement.  I suppose political art that makes a statement exclusively on irrelevant issues seems like a win-win exhibit for the RNC.  Suffice it to say, though, that if you visit the exhibit tonight between 4pm – 8pm you won’t have to spend your money on it.

Box on 5th – Box:3

Opening reception – Sat 9/15  7:30pm – 10pm

Anthony Record, Prayin’, Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 in., 2012

Ybor’s newest and most exciting space will be hosting its third opening reception this Saturday.  If the pattern continues into this newest opening, you’re likely to find the entire Tampa Art scene squeezed into this great little space.  The three person exhibit will be featuring the work of George Anderton, Zesch Fallon, and Anthony Record.

While Fallon’s work tends toward the starkly minimal, Anderton and Record work playfully in the gap between representation and abstraction.  All three artists toy with our idea of images rather than actually provide any readily recognizable ones.  Though all three artists work under disparate styles, they each work within and around abstraction effectively.  This is saying something.  To my general annoyance, abstract art is perhaps the style most severely abused by bad art.  Saturday’s exhibit is primed to be an exercise in taking that style forward.

Tampa Weekend Art Guide 9/14 – 9/16

Warm Up the Skinny Jeans, Kids – Art to Check Out This Weekend! 4/13 – 4/15

This Saturday I’ll be taking my first ride on the Tampa Bay Monorail.  How better to see everything in St. Pete and Tampa on the same night?  I’m sorry to play such a cruel joke on you.  There is no monorail system.  The Bay area could sure use one, though.  Case in point: Disney World.  Did you ever visit Disney World before they got a monorail?  What a dump!  Anyhow, as I mentioned there are plenty of great events to check out on both sides of the Bay this week.

St. Petersburg – 2nd Saturday Art Walk     Sat 4/14

St. Petersburg’s popular 2nd Saturday Art Walk just got a guide upgrade.  Bay area art doers (it was that or ‘arts facilitators’) Reuben and Hunter developed the new website: check it out here.  The new virtual home has definitely increased the already busy buzz for the monthly event.  How cool would it be for everyone to meet for an art party at the Independent or Sake Bomb afterwards?  Anyhow, here are a couple of highlights for your walk.

Mindy Solomon Gallery – Explicit Content    Sat 4/14  6pm-8pm     18 and older only

Mindy Solomon Gallery

I opened the emailed flyer to this exhibit while at work.  I was dumbly shocked to find a photo of a naked woman wearing a bear mask in what appears to be the back of a car.  In retrospect, the exhibit title in the subject line should have tipped me off that it would be NSFW.  The fact that the art is sexually explicit seems to be the point of the Mindy Solomon Gallery‘s latest group exhibit.  The show that opens this Saturday features artists Scot Sothern, Christina West, Barbara DeGenevieve, Bart Johnson, Becky Flanders, Georgine Ingold, Leopold Foulem, Anne Drew Potter, and Bonnie Marie Smith.

I’m curious to see how this show is curatorially executed.  Luridness as the premise for an exhibit could quickly degenerate into a freak show – strengthening the stereotype of the deviant or the Other (with a capital ‘O’) rather than investigating it.  On the other hand, the theme also lends itself to a fair amount of potential.  You’ll have to stop by the gallery to see for yourself.  Regardless of how the exhibit ends up being presented, Mindy Solomon has rounded up some impressive artists.  There will be several pieces that should be the highlight of the art walk.

C. Emerson Fine Arts – Marianne Chapel: Perceptions and Memories    Sat 4/14 6pm

Opening this Saturday, CEFA presents a solo exhibit of multimedia work by Marianne Chapel.  She is an abundantly awarded and well-traveled artist with studios apparently both in the Panamanian jungle and the mountains of Quebec.   However, Chapel also has local connections teaching in the past at the University of Tampa and Ringling College.

It’s clear from the little I’ve seen, that Chapel’s work deals with the way stories are told, the way they’re heard, and the in-between.  She uses materials that are reminiscent of personal ephemera, recalling past family mementos.  Chapel uses these personal seeming narratives to comment on something larger.  Her installation, Dirty Laundry warrants a stop over at the 900 block gallery.

Tempus Projects – Screening of PBS’ Art21: “Change”    Sat 4/14  7pm

If you’re reading this blog, you’re also probably a big fan of PBS‘ award winning documentary series, Art21: Art in the Twenty-First Century.  If you haven’t heard of it before, remember that it is me, Danny Olda, that introduced you to the series.  The first five seasons of the series have been well made and absorbing.  The sixth season is set to top them all.

Saturday night Tempus Projects will be screening “Change”, the first episode of the new season.  The first episode focuses on artists Catherine Opie, El Anatsui, and Ai Wei Wei.  I will admit I cheated: I was able to get my hands on the DVD and watch the first couple episodes.  With the saga surrounding Ai Wei Wei of late I was especially anticipating the section focusing on him and his work.  Art21 touches on his recent run in with the paranoid Chinese state but thankfully focuses on his brilliant work.  It was with the portion on El Anatsui that I was pleasantly surprised with, though.  His ever fluid work, issues of labor, change, and post-colonialism add depth not often found on television (a thimble’s worth of which would’ve improved Morley Safer’s 60 minutes piece 100 fold).  I hope I’m wrong but from what I can tell WEDU and WUSF will not be airing this series (?!) so make sure you at least catch it at Tempus Projects.  There will be snacks and drinks but make sure you RSVP here.

Warm Up the Skinny Jeans, Kids – Art to Check Out This Weekend! 4/13 – 4/15