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

Two Artist Opportunities – Get to Work!

I just found out about two (2!) great opportunities for artists.  If you are an artist and one or both of the calls below fit, get to work!  Also, if you know anyone that can benefit from either of these pass it on.

Ringling Underground Call to Artists

John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art

5401 Bay Shore Road

Sarasota, FL 34243
(941) 359-5700

david-undergroundThe Ringling Museum is seeking emerging contemporary artists currently working in Florida to participate in the Spring 2013 season of Ringling Underground, a series of events combining live music and art in a block-party atmosphere.  Artists are invited to exhibit sculpture, installation, interventions, video, performance and other works in the courtyard of the art museum.  Artists are encouraged to consider the context of the Ringling, its history, collections and exhibitions when producing their works, but are not limited to these as themes. The next events will take place on February 7th, March 7th, and April 4th.

Open to artists working in any discipline. Current students, groups, and collaborations are also welcome. Artists must be able to attend the event as all works must be installed and de-installed on the same day.  Creative professionals do not necessarily need to identify as visual artists.  Past Ringling Underground events have welcomed engineers, jewelry makers, and actors to create installations, interactive objects, and performances.

Proposal Guidelines:

Detailed description of your piece including images, drawings, dimensions and technical needs

(Note: This is an outdoor event in the courtyard of the art museum.  Power outlets are available but limited.)

Artist statement and/or statement about the proposed work

Artist bio and/or resume

Link to website (if applicable)

Contact information

Email submission to: ringlingunderground@gmail.com

Subject line should include: Ringling_Month_Your Name

Include your name on all attachments

 

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts Opens Call for Emerging Artists for 43rd Annual Event

Artists Nationwide Invited to Apply to Showcase Works at the 2013 Festival

logoTAMPA, Fla. (December 3, 2012) ― The Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, one of the nation’s top-rated outdoor fine art shows, is now accepting applications from emerging artists interested in participating in the festival, which will return to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa on March 2 – 3, 2013. The Gasparilla Festival of the Arts Emerging Artist Program will provide up-and-coming artists who are interested in pursuing a professional career in visual arts with the opportunity to showcase their work to the more than 100,000 art enthusiasts who are expected to attend.

Artists who are selected for the Emerging Artist Program will exhibit free of charge, and will be provided with an individual display tent as well as a $250 expense allowance. Emerging artists will not compete for prize money against artists in the main show. However, their artwork will be juried by a festival juror of national prominence, and each artist will be eligible to receive the $1,000 Robert and Elizabeth Sanchez Emerging Artist Award.

The winner of the 2013 Emerging Artist Program will also be exempt from the jury selection process for the 2014 festival and will receive an automatic invite to participate in the main show.

An artist who has previously exhibited their art in museums or major galleries, or earned a substantial portion of their income through the sale of their work, will not qualify as an applicant for the Emerging Artist Program. The application deadline is January 2, 2013. For more information / rules and to submit an application, please visit www.gasparilla-arts.com/emerging.htm.

The Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation dedicated to producing an annual, premier juried outdoor art festival for the enjoyment and education of patrons, artists and guests as well as for the enhancement of the Tampa Bay area’s cultural arts. The non-profit organization relies on support from sponsorships, on-site retail sales and corporate and individual gifts to fund its programs and events. The Tampa-based organization is staffed entirely by volunteers.  For more information, visit www.gasparilla-arts.com, send email to emergingartists@gasparillaarts.com or call (813) 876-1747.

Two Artist Opportunities – Get to Work!

Warm Up the Skinny Jean, Kids – Art to Check Out this Weekend! 3/02-3/04

The runt month of February has come and gone. I learned the hard way that things you do on Leap Day do count.  Anyhow, with the advent of March our art microcosm becomes much more interesting.  To kick the month off we have two closing receptions on one side of the bay and an opening on the other.

USF Centre Gallery – The Attic by Shanna Martin and Ben Berrett closing reception    Fri 3/02  7pm-9pm

Tempus Projects – Neil Bender: Purple Nurple closing reception    Fri 3/02  8pm-10pm

USF Centre Gallery - THE ATTIC

THE ATTIC is an installation/performance piece by artists Shanna Martin and Ben Berrett.  ‘Attic’ is one of those tired metaphors for the subconscious that more often than not dooms artwork to cliché-hood (think the cover of Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic).  If you’ve seen the performance in person or on YouTube, though, the stock symbol becomes disturbingly real.  The performance produces an honest sense of chaos as two monsters trudge around the space – a real life Id left to its own devices.  Cliché or not, THE ATTIC is likely to be the most interesting art you’ll see this weekend.

Tempus Projects is closing Neil Bender’s solo exhibit with a reception this Friday as well.  I wrote a review of the show that you can find here.  If you didn’t get a chance to make it to the opening, a trip Seminole Heights is worth it.  Bender’s paintings are surprisingly relevant – they engage in a way familiar to other mediums.  Check out the review if you want to know more about the exhibit.

Studio@620 – Florida Focus Exhibition: A Celebration of Contemporary Florida Art    Sat 3/03  7pm

The Florida Focus Exhibition is a group exhibit of 32(!) artists from around the state.  The force and focus behind the show is its curator, Ken Rollins.  Rollins’ name may sound familiar: he was the executive director for a few Florida art museums including the interim executive director of the TMoA  during its make over.  The exhibit celebrates his 70th birthday with the work of many artists he’s worked with throughout his career.

The roster is a long list of well-known and respected Florida artists.  That isn’t to say that it’ll be particularly exciting, though.  If you’re the type of art nerd that’s stoked about Mindy Solomon’s Explicit Content show, you may find yourself choking down a yawn at this one.  My recommendation is to take a friend and sharpen your critic skills.  You’ll find some art that you admire and art that you less than admire – articulate the particulars of what you think.  Regardless, the education on Florida artists makes the exhibit worth seeing.  The full list of artists is too long to name here but check out the full roster of artists here.

Also this weekend:

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts – Curtis Hixon Park     Sat 3/03  9am-6pm, Sun 3/04 9am-5pm

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this event.  However, I should send you off with the warning that the Festival comes with a reputation for being extremely tame.  I’ve heard the general style described as “hotel art” – so inoffensive that it’s offensive.  Now go enjoy the sunshine!

Warm Up the Skinny Jean, Kids – Art to Check Out this Weekend! 3/02-3/04