ART AT BAY Presents: Steven Kenny

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St.Petersburg, FLSteven Kenny‘s amazing portraits are a devout homage to old-school portraiture and the bizarre.  The surreal landscapes and the 17th century attire, the placements of dangerous animals in the presence of royal-looking children, and the outlandish but beautiful headdresses are all things that Kenny purposely installs in his artwork in order to intrigue, provoke and install imagination upon spectators.

According to the artist, these bizarre juxtapositions are to be read in two ways:

The first alludes to the fact that we are an integral part of the natural world and subject to its laws. This seems like an obvious statement until we step back and objectively assess our symbiotic relationship with each other and the Earth. Depending on your perspective, these relationships fall somewhere on the scale between harmonious and dysfunctional.

The second turns the lens around to look inward upon the stewardship of our own emotional, intellectual and psychological landscapes. The same pictorial subject matter allows me to make references to our individual journeys of self-exploration and discovery. Again, depending on who is holding the compass, we are either lost or on the right path.


To check out more of his work, you can visit his website or purchase his 24-page art book through here.

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NOMADstudio: Compelled to make a difference in local art education

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ST.PETE-We are lucky to say that the bay area has come a long way when regarding art and visual culture. We have many wonderful locally based institutions that make Tampa and its surrounding areas, very unique. While the latter makes us hopeful about the state of art and culture in our city, the past few years have shown extreme deterioration in public school’s art education programs. Art classes are simply not cutting it as the FCAT is overriding all, if not most, open slots for electives and extracurriculars.

Upon her return to Tampa Bay, local artist and art educator Carrie Boucher saw a disconnect between how the community prided itself on its status as an arts destination, and how our students’ exposure to the arts was ultimately lacking substance.

“Art, music, theater, dance – their importance can’t be quantified, they’re just a part of who we are as humans, they allow us to share our experience, but we have to teach the value of the arts if we want them to continue to be appreciated and supported.”

Compelled to make a difference, Boucher envisioned the NOMADstudio (Neighborhood-Oriented Mobile Art & Design Studio), a project that would potentially be a large Arlington Transit bus transformed into a mobile art classroom.

Rendering of Initial ConceptNOMADartbus Back Ext

Boucher says that by being part of the NOMAD art bus, residents would be provided with an alternative art education; whomever participates will not only be attending an art class, but they will also be learning how to speak and think about art whilst becoming familiar with local artists. The bus will also serve as an even space, and a reliable resource of quality art supplies.

NOMADart Bus Front

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The project is not completely finished yet. They are still working towards generating the sufficient funds which will support the necessary renovations the bus needs in order to be fully functional.

NOMADartbus Interior Before

For now, the NOMAD Art Bus project has been approved by KIND to compete for their November KIND Projects prize, a competition that awards $10,000 in funding to the project that gets the most votes on their website (projects.kindsnacks.com). Voting opened November 10th and will be closing on November 30th. With your help, this funding would allow Boucher to complete the remaining repairs and renovations for the vehicle, and buy the necessary art supplies to completely outfit the NOMADbus.

If you would like to vote for this project go to projects.kindsnacks.com and look for the NOMAD Art Bus project.

For more information on the NOMAD Bus you can contact Carrie Boucher at nomadartbus@gmail.com

Visual Art Calendar 9/27 – 10/03

ras+e coming to Studio@620

We have a seriously interesting week of art ahead of us – a Spanish Royal Inheritance, a glimpse Japanese art, activist design, sacred art.  It isn’t even Second Saturday yet!  Also, for the second week in a row Tarpon Spring delivers an event worth a look.  Velcro your shoes tight – we’re heading to St. Pete, up to North County, and back down again.

Check out the calendar on ARTICULATE here.

Art@Bay at Sarasota Visual Art: Organic Inhabitants

If an apocalypse befell the globe, I reckon the contemporary art world would leave few ruins.  Many contemporary pieces conclude their existence at the conclusion of the performance, the end of the video, or the dismantling of the installation.  Don’t misunderstand me: I sympathize with an artist’s skepticism of the art object.  However, in a Facebook world that is increasingly losing its thingness and placeness, it’s easy to see why at her gallery’s latest artist talk, Mindy Solomon would quote art critic Roberta Smith – Ceramic art is the new video art.

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Warehouse to Wynwood: A Checklist

Detail of a mural by Acud-Akut in the Warehouse Arts District

I stared out the window as we drove up I-595 on our way out of Miami.  Single story, brightly painted garages and warehouses, street art murals, numerous galleries: “That looks just like the Warehouse Arts District!”  In actuality we were driving by Miami’s Wynwood Arts District.  The Wynwood neighborhood is arguably America’s most important art neighborhood outside of New York city limits.  Perhaps it was the visual similarities between the two districts that inspired my optimism.  But maybe, just maybe, the Warehouse Arts District, too, can one day be a national game changer of a neighborhood.

After all, in Florida’s Bermuda-Triangle-style real estate climate, expecting a neighborhood similar to Manhattan’s Chelsea or even Brooklyn’s Williamsburg area are frankly unrealistic.  However, Miami’s Wynwood – that just might work.  So how does our WAD become the cock of the walk that is Miami’s WAD?  Here is a check list to get it going.  Don’t despair: the Warehouse Arts District can already cross some of these off.

Low rent neighborhood for artists and galleries.  Artists are generally poor; they’re not starving artists by choice.  Getting them to congregate in one neighborhood require’s affordable rent.

Warehouse/garage spaces that make for good gallery spaces and studios.  This is self-explanatory – a lot of space is good for working artists.  I’ve also been hearing the term “industrial-chic” lately.  I suppose the grittiness can look cool in its own way.  On an unrelated note, if you ever hear me utter any word followed by “chic”, please drown me. 

Recognition from the city as an important cultural neighborhood.  To be honest, Miami, like St. Pete, didn’t exactly give their WAD much recognition until it became clear that the arts makes crap-loads of money.  Crap-loads.  Recognition is recognition, though, right?  Seriously, cooperation and help from the city is vital.  St. Pete annually budgets money for arts organizations that would be near impossible to operate without.   

World-class art fairs that funnels thousands of art-lovers (and collectors) to the neighborhood.  Through Art Basel Miami and satellite fairs, December is the only time of the year Miami may be more important than NYC.  I realize St. Pete can’t realistically expect a fair of Basel magnitude any time soon (if ever).  That doesn’t mean we can’t host a quality contemporary art fair.  Main Sail and Gasparilla Arts Festival?  Please.  We could use a fair that doesn’t appeal exclusively to the senior citizen set.   

Art galleries in touch with national trends, pushing the conversation forward.  This may be the most important piece.  Everything else will grow organically if the district has a base of galleries/spaces in touch with contemporary art thought.  Otherwise, the area can easily regress into a kitsch district.  Think St. Augustine’s Historic District without any of the history. 

Art collectors that live in the area or at least visit often.  I hate to say it, but art collectors are still one of the main catalysts to good art.  Tourists demand chotchkies.  Serious Collectors demand quality contemporary work.  While it’s better to supply the latter, unfortunately it’s easier to supply the former.  It seems that nearly all of (the few) collectors that head our way land just South of us in Sarasota.  In the mean time we’re plentiful in the next best catalyst: good schools.  The University of South Florida, the University of Tampa, and the Ringling College of Art and Design are all producing a respectable pool of new artists.       

The arts and their support have strengthened exponentially in the Bay area as of late.  It could be my love for St. Pete and Tampa saying this but I think we may soon be poised to bring our voice to the national table.  It may soon be time to widen the cirlce of those benefited by our art scene to well beyond the bay.  I’d hate to see the chance squandered.