Art@Bay’s Best of 2012 – Best Museum Exhibit

The Prestigious ART@BAY Cyber-Trophy
The Prestigious ART@BAY Cyber-Trophy

December brings with it the obligation of every critic to put forth in list form an unfair reductionist look-back on the year that was.  Being a responsible art blogger, I won’t beg off.

Now, I realize the ‘top-10’ list is generally the accepted format for these types of articles.  Tampa Bay, however, is not New York City – a top ten list here is nearly large enough to be called a ‘bottom ten list written in reverse order’.  For this reason I opted for the ‘Best in Category of 2012’ format.  Take heart if you or your exhibit is not mentioned here: if it makes you feel better you can assume that you would have come in second or third on my top ten list.  First we’ll tackle the year’s best museum exhibit.  That said, on with the judgements!

Best Museum Exhibit

Contemporary Prints by American Women: A Selection from the Gift of Martha and Jim Sweeny – Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

Perhaps this decision is easier to understand when I emphasize that it isn’t the artist(s) under scrutiny in this category, but rather the exhibit itself.  (Although, I should mention a lot of the work was simply amazing; prints from Louise Nevelson, Vija Celmins, and Pat Steir (excuse the academic jargon) blew my mind)

There is only one aspect of the Contemporary Prints exhibit that ended up on the wrong side of my pro/con list: it was small.  The MFA’s upstairs gallery that housed the exhibit is about the size of a typical commercial gallery.  This wasn’t entirely surprising, though – the exhibit is effectively a preview of a collection in progress.  A larger exhibit is expected to be hung when that collection is complete.

This exhibition set itself apart as this year’s best by effectively accomplishing two things.  The first is its excellent presentation of the medium. The exhibit offered the prints as a medium unto itself rather than simply a means of replication.  The medium carries a tendency to be culturally undervalued, seen merely as reproductions of originals.  Contemporary Prints underscored the nuances of individual prints, the craftsmanship involved, and even the fact that some original artwork was intended to exist only as prints.

The second is highlighting women artists in the post-war period.  Women are still terribly underrepresented in museums nationwide and Bay Area institutions seemed to sadly make peace with the situation.  Thus, an exhibit that exclusively highlights the talent of contemporary women is especially welcome.  Further, the exhibit was tastefully curated emphasizing each artist’s work rather than their gender – not qualifying the art by sex in a misguided attempt to be politically correct.

In short, the exhibit was based on a thoughtful concept rather than shallow novelty, highlighting an underrepresented and often undervalued medium and artists.

Honorable Mention:

John Cage 33 1/3 – Performed By Audience, Tampa Museum of Art

John Cage 33 1/13 – Performed by Audience was by far the most fun museum art exhibit this year.  Although I may have annoyed a few museum guest, I happily sat on the couch listening to the cacophony of the four turntable I set into motion.  The exhibit is a musical score of sorts ‘written’ by John Cage.  Cage stipulates that about twelve record players be arranged in a gallery along with two to three hundred records.  Visitors are then encouraged to participate by playing the records as they see fit.

Perhaps Tampa Bay’s best curator, Jade Dellenger, organized the TMoA exhibit (as well as a corresponding show at Tempus Projects that ran concurrently) as part of the centenary celebration of John Cage’s birth.

Art@Bay’s Best of 2012 – Best Museum Exhibit

Art@Bay at Sarasota Visual Art – Art After Dark: On the Record

DJ Brian Oblivion – he was spinning Gang of Four when I took this photo

My students looked at me as if they always thought I might be a nerd and I had just confirmed their suspicions.  Had I done anything fun this weekend?  Yes.  I went to the museum.

To be fair to my street cred, my visit to the museum did include alcohol, a DJ, and night-time schmoozing (oh, I hate that word, but it’s too accurate to substitute).  The Tampa Museum of Art hosts a quarterly event called Art After Dark.  The event opened the museum’s doors well past its usual bed time for a vinyl record themed party.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Art@Bay at Sarasota Visual Art – Art After Dark: On the Record

Warm Up the Skinny Jeans, Kids – Art to Check Out this Weekend! 3/16 – 3/18

March Madness is in full swing – college basketball has forced me to sever all ties with reality and rational thought. I may need anti-March-Madness meds. A dose of art may be exactly what the doctor (and court) ordered.  Here are the picks.

Tampa Museum of Art – Art on the House    Fri 3/16  4pm-8pm

Several exciting exhibits all happened to converge on the TMoA at once.  If you haven’t visited in a while, Friday is the perfect time – the museum offers free admission between 4pm and 8pm every Friday thanks to Hill Ward Henderson. Here are some highlights of a few of the offerings you’ll catch.

Romare Bearden – Bearden is an acclaimed artist for good reason.  He used a collage style that not only documented the African-American experience but shined a light on the perception of the African-American experience.  It’s easy to see why his work is so enduring influencing artists today such as Kara Walker.

John Cage – Tampa has had a special buzz about John Cage since January so chances are you’re well-educated on the multi-discipline artist.  His interactive installation involves twelve record players with albums donated by celebrities from Jack White to Christian Marclay.  You’ll find me there Friday night playing with the 45rpm setting.

Erik Levine – With the recent acquisition of Hand Held, a large-scale sculpture, by Erik Levine, the TMoA kicked off an exhibition that will also feature two of the artist’s video works.  We’ll get the obvious out of the way: Hand Held looks like a giant plywood condom.  Though the exhibition’s opening felt quiet, I wouldn’t miss a chance to see Levine’s work in person.  His use of such common material on monumental scales is meant to be appreciated first hand.

Studio@620 – Artbook Tampa Bay Launch Party    Sat 3/17  7pm-11pm

I’m recommending this event with reservations.  The company HDInteractive recently completed the development of Artbook Tampa Bay, an iPad app showcasing Tampa Bay area art and artists.  Studio@620 is hosting the Launch Party for the app this Saturday with an after party at Sake Bomb.  I definitely support promoting our often under-hyped art scene.  Also, kudos to HDInteractive for the innovative idea and making use of newly ubiquitous apps to that end.  Artbook will feature local artwork and artist bios as well as local institutions like the Tampa Museum of Art.  A preview version of the app can be downloaded for free, however the full version will cost $9.99.  Artists, though, won’t be compensated with any of the money the app brings in.  I understand capitalist reality and that paying the artists with anything other than “exposure” could be impossible – I don’t want to sound like a grump.  However, a project that can’t fairly compensate the artists whose work is generating the bulk of the income should reconsider its game plan.  I’ll stop the complaining before I get carried away.  I’d love to hear your thoughts – you can continue the conversation below or at Facebook. Anyhow, you may want to still consider attending; chances are you have friends or artists you know participating in the project.

  • Check out this Creative Loafing article for more info about Artbook and the launch party
  • Check out this article at Hyperallergic about fair artist compensation

Honorable Mention

Morean Arts Center – WAX: Medium Meets Message    Fri 3/16  5pm-7pm

Morean Arts Center presents a group exhibit with the medium as its tying theme: encaustic, a wax based paint.  The show will be featuring paintings by Kim Bernard, Ann Taylor Gibson, Lisa Pressman, Russell Thurston, Leslie Neumann, Elise Wagner, Mary Beth Rothman, Lorrie Fredette and Laura Moriarty.

Warm Up the Skinny Jeans, Kids – Art to Check Out this Weekend! 3/16 – 3/18

Warm Up the Skinny Jeans, Kids – Art to Check Out This Weekend! 2/04

Hitch up your smarty pants or pull up your party pants this Saturday (not that either is really mutually exclusive): our two offerings this Saturday will probably appeal more to your Apollonian or bacchanalian sides.  However,  hitting both shows in the same night may appeal to your more rad side.

Blue Lucy – Far Out: A Black Light Art Exhibit     2/04/12  7pm-11pm

Blue Lucy‘s much loved Black Light Art Exhibit returns this Saturday at 7pm.  Though perhaps not as heady as most of the exhibits I usually recommend, I promise: you will have fun.  Far Out will be featuring work from several artists including local star Frank Strunk III and 600 Block neighbors, Pale Horse Design.  Not only will the black light blow your mind (and reveal nasty stains),  you’ll get a chance to meet some great local artists.  Check out Taco Bus before hand (you’ll find me there) and Sake Bomb after – you’ve got yourself a grade A downtown St. Pete night.  We’ve been in Tampa a lot lately, so it’ll be nice to pay a visit to  Blue Lucy and the rest of the 600 Block.

Tempus Projects – Wall Music and Things Not Seen Before Closing Reception     2/04/12  7pm

I know lately I’ve given the lion’s share of my attention to Tempus Projects’ John Cage tribute exhibit.  So this is the last time I’ll mention Things Not Seen Before.  It’s just that  I’ve been a fan of the composer/artist since I was a wee high school art nerd.

The USF School of Music will be interpreting and performing music based on the sights and sounds of the Things Not Seen Before exhibit.  The small space is sure to work well for this performance also.  It’s been encouraging to see so much collaboration involved in this ongoing exhibit, so it’s appropriate USF gets in on the act before John Cage leaves town.  This Saturday is also your last chance to get in on the act so if you’re not heading to the 600 Block hope you can make it to Seminole Heights.

Warm Up the Skinny Jeans, Kids – Art to Check Out This Weekend! 2/04

Art@Bay at Sarasota Visual Art: Things Not Seen Before

Nearly 100 years after his birth and 20 years since his death John Cage’s relevancy to the current creative world is as strong as its ever been.  To be sure, Tempus Projects’ John Cage: Things Not Seen Before isn’t so much an exhibit of work by Cage as it is a display of his continuing reach and influence.

read the rest of the article at Sarasota Visual Art

Art@Bay at Sarasota Visual Art: Things Not Seen Before

Warm Up the Skinny Jeans, Kids – Art to Check Out This Weekend!

There’s a lot of art vying for your attention this Friday.  Who shall win it and who shall perish?  Nature shall decide.  Alright, it shan’t be all that dramatic, but you do have a lot to choose from, come Friday.  We’re looking like a ship-shape art scene, here!

Tempus Projects –   Brian Taylor Sleep of Reason Cinema Series and Robbie Land 16mm Cine-Performance –  Fri. Jan 1/27  7pm-11pm

I’ll admit this now: it’s probably my predilection for art that doesn’t hang on a wall which made me decide to feature this event (no offense, painters).  Also, watching Roger Beebe‘s performance at CEFA earlier this month has me ready to check out more 16mm films.

Tempus Projects opened Things Not Seen Before: A Tribute to John Cage about two weeks ago.  This Friday’s installment is part of the additional programming coinciding with that show.  Filmmaker Robbie Land will be performing his 16mm Cine-Performance.  Some of Land’s films use the camera unconventionally (and at times don’t use a camera at all) bringing to mind Cage’s prepared piano pieces and fondness for chance.  Brian Taylor, Sleep of Reason Cinema Series curator, will be presenting work inspired by John Cage.  Taylor has screened some great films in the past so it’ll be interesting to see what Cage themed film he’ll be presenting Friday.

Friday Night Alternatives and Additions

If you’re looking for something more or something else to check out on Friday, here are some other worthwhile events:

Carolina Cleere, State of Mine, mixed media

Morean Arts Center – Bloom  5pm-7pm:  The Arts Center will be holding the opening reception to the invitational exhibition Bloom in its two main galleries.  The show is based on the subject of flowers and “the beauty and complexity of these forms”.  I know this may conjure the idea of lame flowery still-life’s but the work featured in this exhibit if far from it and worth a look if you’re heading to St. Pete.  At least check out their site – you’ll be impressed.

William Pachner, “Winter Landscape”, 1968, ink / gouache, 15 x 19 inches

Brad Cooper Gallery – William Pachner 1960-1970    2pm-7pm: This show features the work of the same William Pachner that you can see at the Tampa Museum of Art now and appropriately coinciding with that exhibit.  If you’re into Pachner’s abstract painting check out the reception at Brad Cooper than make your way to the TMoA for Friday’s Art on the House.  Your tour for this important Bay area artist starts in Ybor and ends next door in downtown Tampa.

Kathy Wright, "Mammoth Cave 58", ink and oil on canvas, 60" x 48"

Clayton Galleries – Kathy Wright, Landscape Paintings, labyrinths, caverns and sloughs    7pm-9pm    Clayton Galleries kicks off their 2012 season Friday with this Kathy Wright solo exhibit running through March 10th.   The exhibition will be featuring Wright’s colorful abstracted landscapes inspired by her artist residency stay in the Everglades and the surroundings of Mammoth Cave National Park.  Wright’s current project, the Mammoth Cave Series, is particularly well executed and definitely warrants a visit to the reception.

Warm Up the Skinny Jeans, Kids – Art to Check Out This Weekend!

Warm Up the Skinny Jeans, Kids – Art to Check Out This Weekend!

Select your hardiest pair of skinnies this weekend and plan on wearing them through Sunday – we’re partying at the museum and meeting Peter Max.

Tampa Museum of Art – Art After Dark       Fri. 1/20  8pm-11pm

Like bowling, art can be more fun after dark, especially when tastefully coupled with lasers and fog machines.  Though the TMoA won’t be rocking it black-light-and-Pink-Floyd style, you can still expect their quarterly Art After Dark to be a fun night at the museum.  Local neo-shoegazers, Sleepy Vikings will be providing the music while you check out what’s described as “live outdoor art installations”.   A cash bar and Retro TV dinners from Sono Cafe will be around to complete the party.

This weekend’s Art After Dark exhibit celebrates the museum’s upcoming William Pachner, Romare Bearden, Don ZanFagna, and John Cage exhibits. For those of us art-nerds that float farther to the ‘nerd’ end of the continuum, this is as scene as anything here in the Bay area.  Have a good time, head to the after party at Collage, fall asleep with your wrist band on, and brag about the whole thing to your regular-nerd friends the next day.  This is what I’ll do.

Syd Entel Galleries – Peter Max      Sat. 1/21 7:30pm-10pm    &    Sun. 1/22 1pm-4pm     RSVP requested
Peter "to the" Max

This one caught me off guard – Immensely popular graphic artist and painter Peter Max will be attending the reception to his new exhibition at Safety Harbor’s Syd Entel Galleries.  He’ll be exhibiting various recent work featuring Texas themed paintings and celebrity portraits (including the Taylor Swift featured on her album cover and the gallery’s website) that have never been exhibited.  The exhibit is scheduled in connection with the announcement that Max would be painting the hull  of a Norwegian Cruise Lines luxury cruise liner – the Boeing 777 he painted for Continental being a mere appetizer.

While this work may not be the cosmic 60’s icons you’ve come to know and love, the exhibition will definitely be a good opportunity to meet the artist.  You can at least bounce your nickname ideas off him – Peter “to the” Max, Peter Max Head Room, and so on.  The receptions on Saturday and Sunday are free.  However, Syd Entel is requesting you RSVP if you plan on attending.

Warm Up the Skinny Jeans, Kids – Art to Check Out This Weekend!

Art to Check Out Saturday

Tempus Projects – Things Not Seen Before: A Tribute to John Cage        Sat. 1/14 – 7pm-10pm

I have a special place in my art-heart for Tempus Projects, and their exhibition set to open Saturday typifies why.

Things Not Seen Before: A Tribute to John Cage is hosted by Tempus Projects in cooperation with a companion exhibition John Cage 33 1/3 – Performed by Audience, to open later this month at the Tampa Museum of Art.  Both exhibits are being presented by independent curator Jade Dellinger as part of the John Cage centennial celebration.

Showcasing both exhibits in such seemingly disparate venues is an extremely smart curatorial call on the part of Dellinger.  This comes as no surprise – Dellinger has been behind a number of great exhibits featured in the Bay area.  No doubt, John Cage would’ve approved of an intimate artist-run space (trust me, we were tight) like Tempus Projects.

The name of the exhibit is based on a line Cage wrote in a letter to Dellinger as a student in the 1980’s: “I’m not interested in the names of movements but rather in seeing and making things not seen before.”  The exhibit will feature several original pieces by Cage including work that’s never been exhibited.  Among Cage’s artwork will be trial proofs from his Mushroom Book and a monotype from his “String” series.

An overwhelming list of overwhelmingly imaginative people will also be featured such as David Byrne, Christian Marclay, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Stephen Vitiello, and a gaggle of original(!) Fluxus artists among many others.  Check out the full list at Tempus Projects’ site.  Additionally, well-known Bay area artists Joe Griffith and Theo Wujcik (my favorite local painter) will be producing site specific artwork for the space.

The amount of creativity Tempus Projects and Jade Dellinger are able to organize and fit into the Tampa gallery is impressive.  Considering a little garage in Seminole heights could muster the gumption (or moxie) to present an exhibit worthy of a museum warms the DIY-soul.  More importantly, though, it illustrates the importance and potential alternative spaces can have in the Bay area arts community.

I won’t be able to make it on Saturday (please don’t remind me unless you want to see a sissy-man cry).  If you’re going and would like to be featured on the blog write about your visit to the show, take pictures, draw renditions, record the ambient sounds, etc. and send it to me at

Art to Check Out Saturday