Alright, I’m sorry. I haven’t been doing the best job of keeping you apprised of art happenings in Tampa. Not to worry, though: I’m getting my head back in the game and you back up to date. Here’s the best going on in Tampa right now.
The Elephant in the Room
There’s only one thing I don’t like about the CL Space and I understand it’s unavoidable: exhibits don’t hang around for very long there. Generally if you missed the opening reception to a show, such as the current The Elephant in the Room, you missed the show entirely. Not so today! The art deities have considered you’re plight and shown you favor – you’ve given a closing reception! Seriously, with its brick walls and floating dry wall, the CL Space is a beautiful art venue. The Elephant in the Room is a politically charged juried exhibit. You’ve likely seen several of these types of shows recently as a result of the RNC. This show is especially worthy of your attendance because of its more subtle but well thought-out work, and its interactive Silverfish Revolution. Read more about that here. – The closing reception is Friday 8/31, 7pm-9pm at CL Space.
Taking Place: Drawings by Josette Urso
Gallery 221 at HCC is now presenting work from New York based (and Tampa native) artist Josette Urso. Urso produces intricate ink drawings that are at once claustrophobic like the cityscapes they depict but also playful in a way. A number of these drawings are currently being exhibited. However, Urso’s enormous (7.5 x 20 feet) site specific installation, a vinyl rendering of a drawing, and a six-minute video work titled Taking Place really make the show worth a visit. She plays effectively with ideas of place and information, giving the viewer a bit to untangle mentally and visually. – Gallery 221@HCC will be hosting an artist talk and presentation Wed 9/05, 3pm and an opening reception the following evening at 5pm-7pm.
The Importance of Being Photographed
It was a cross-medium mash-up waiting to happen: Andy Warhol and Oscar Wilde. The playwright and the pop artist expressed some eerily contemporary and similar concerns in their work such as celebrity, sexuality, beauty, and wealth. The exhibit doesn’t actually feature the work of either artist, but rather takes its cue from the Polaroids in the exhibit down the hall, The Andy Warhol Legacy Project. This is a photography show about being photographed. Many of the subjects are entirely aware they are standing in front of a camera. It’s this self-awareness that’s really fascinating and give many of the pieces a voyeuristic feel. I would love to know what Oscar Wilde would think about this show. The exhibit includes artists Tina Barney, Dawoud Bey, Katy Grannan, Jason Lazarus, Malerie Marder, Ryan McGinley, Catherine Opie, and Alec Soth. – The Importance of Being Photographed is open at the USF Contemporary Art Museum through 12/15/13.
The RNC and a hurricane: it feels like Tampa Bay is writing the Daily Show’s material for them. All we need is one more weird event to complete the trifecta. Maybe a python invasion or something. But take heart! Conservatives, tempests, and serpents can’t keep good art down! There are plenty of exhibits to check out this weekend. However, make sure this one lands near the top of your to-see list.
CL Space – The Elephant in the Room Sat 8/25 7pm
Creative Loafing is opening its beautiful space to exhibit politically themed work this weekend. Organized by Tempus Projects, this juried exhibition promises a high-quality showing. Political art exhibits always run the risk of tumbling down the easy path: displaying work high on shock-and-awe aesthetics, but lacking any actual substance. I’m pretty confident The Elephant in the Roomwill take the aesthetic high road favoring art that encourages critical thought over a “that’s neat” reaction. For example, consider the drawings of Roger Palmer. His blog, Feral Ink, has had me mesmerized for some time. On Feral Ink, prominent characters of conservative politics are rendered as colorful drawings. The artwork is accompanied by text that reads like the unfolding of a surreal tragedy but in reality narrates the day-to-day political landscape.
The Elephantin the Room will also feature collage work from the Silverfish Revolution. Artists were encouraged to mail in collages which were then featured at Tempus Projects last week. There visitors could add to the collages with materials provided by the Bluebird Books Bus. The resulting collages will be on hand at The Elephant in the Room with another opportunity for visitors to participate in this collective collage. Following the exhibit the collection of collages will be made into signs to protest/support the convention. Really, expect to see a heavy show and lend an artistic hand.
Sometimes the most contentious relationships can be the most productive ones. Artists’ and politicians’ mutual suspicion (and at times outright disdain) of each other often serves as fodder for both groups: artwork for the former and budget cuts for the latter. Although this scuffle between art and professional politics has been playing out internationally over the course of decades something special is unfolding in Tampa Bay at the moment. With the Republican National Convention set to descend on the area within the next couple weeks, a sort of case study of the interplay between art and politics will present itself.
It’s sad in a way – like homeless people lending each other money; the current economic climate impelling the underfunded to fund each other. My wife reminds me that I’ve been an especially cranky critic lately. This would be why. However, these days marked by austerity seem to be shifting into days marked by crowdsourcing, a trend to which Tampa Bay has warmed up quickly. Indeed, around here crowdsourced funds appear to nearly outpace great ideas needing a kick-start. In a way, it’s promising. Tempus for the Spring illustrated this promise well enough to oblige me to begin to uncrank.
Sure, you had a good time at Art After Dark last week. Though, now you may be asking “Danny, is there another art party worth going to soon?” I’m glad you asked. I’m also sorry I started off this week like an infomercial. Anyhow, here’s another art party for you with one serious improvement: it supports an important cause.
CL Space – Tempus for The Spring Sat 4/28
VIP admission – $30 in advance or $35 at the door, 6pm-10pm
General admission – $10, student (with ID) – $5, 7pm-10pm
The cause behind the party should be mentioned first – The Spring of Tampa Bay. The Spring is Hillsborough’s only certified domestic violence prevention and emergency shelter agency. Tempus for The Spring is specifically supporting the creation of a new art therapy program for the agency. It’s only fitting that such a program is helped to be brought about with an art party. This is where you can do your bit to prevent domestic violence and support the arts this Saturday.
That being said, I won’t lie – the Bay area isn’t short on art parties. I can easily think of some regulars on both sides of the bay. Thus, if you have some sort of literal art party addiction you’re set. Like most things, though, the art parties actually worth your presence are few. These events can easily get heavy on the party side and light on the art, as in “Art Lite”. Tempus for The Spring seems to be a different sort of affair.
Firstly, two of the Bay area’s best painters will be showing and selling work: Theo Wujcik and Neil Bender. Additionally, up and coming artists such as Justin Nelson and Ryann Slauson will be joining the gang on the wall (not to mention Tempus Projects’ Tracy Midulla Reller and Bluebird Books Bus’ Mitzi Gordon among many other great artists). If you ever had hopes of owning art, Saturday would be a prime opportunity to make good on it. Work is being sold via silent auction which could possibly help you land a sweet price, especially if you take advantage of a sneak peek that comes with a VIP admission. More importantly, though, with cash you lay down for the auction you not only acquire awesome artwork but you also help out an awesome agency in a very real way. You could be an art collector and a philanthropist with one maneuver of the wallet: classy! Classy, but not snooty. With a $3 per drink cash bar (free drinks with a VIP admission) and DJ, fun is to be had, even by philistine non-art liking types.
Regardless of your interest, causes and art rarely fit so well together. Not often do venues like Tempus Projects exhibit in venues like the CL Space. And Seldom can you contribute to an important cause by collecting art.