Thursday, December 26, 2013

The State of the Arts 2013, Tampa.

Thankfully, Tampa was 2nd in American Styles magazine's art destination web poll, so no one bothered to trumpet that BS over the grim economic wasteland of the arts in 2013. 

This was a year of surprises in Tampa. The PODs show at Gasparilla was beset by several problems and flopped, but I am told these are being corrected. I am looking forward to the 2014 version. This satellite show may not seem relevant at this time but I think it could lead to much bigger things.

Danny Olda launched an arts magazine titled Art at Bay. This is a welcome and daring venture, and I wish him luck.

Tracy Midulla Reller took the leap and relocated Tempus up on Florida Ave. Reller remains one of Tampa's best gallerists. Her shows are innovative, beautifully curated and a who's who of academic artists in this city.

The two HCC galleries, Ybor and Dale Mabry, surged as others retreated or hunkered down, rightfully assuming positions of prominence earned via first-rate hard-hitting shows. Directors Carolyn Kossar and Katherine Gibson get Art Taco laurels for getting going when the going got rough, and doing so elegantly. Bravo! I should add that each of these galleries has its own distinct personality. The

Hoffman-Porges gallery, the finest (architecturally speaking) arts space in the area limped along half-heartedly in 2013. A real shame, because with the right curator, this gallery could be a contender. Please do it in 2014.
David Audet, one of Tampa's cultural treasures, put together solid, down to earth shows with minimal resources this year. David remains a little underground and underrated. His cultural contributions to this city have been live-wire and influential. He (along with many others) was responsible for the revitalization of Ybor before the City "fathers" ruined it by cowing to the real powers that be, issuing two dozen liquor licenses. David Audet holds one of the keys to Tampa's future, and he comes with a turnkey crew of some of the best and brightest in Tampa.

Beth Kokol is someone I had overlooked much too long. An influential art teacher and gallerist in South Tampa, Kokol impresses with talent, teaching, curating and marketing abilities. I will be covering more of her gallery's activities in 2014. 

Mishou Sanchez converted two trailer/containers into an art gallery out by the Winthrop Center. A self-funded effort, this served notice to anyone who is listening out there that Ms. Sanchez is one of our top visionaries when it comes to urban spaces. If the City resourced its human capital with the slightest bit of wisdom, they would snap up Mishou before someone else does. 

The Santaella/West Tampa Center for the Arts seems to be in a state of suspended animation. It has dissipated through the year for a multitude of reasons. Sad to see this grand arts space become a shadow of its former self. It has considerable potential. 

Bleu Acier, the gallery of Master Printer Erika Greenberg-Schneider and internationally renowned Dominique Labauvie, has been an unflinching bastion of the arts in Tampa and the Bay area, producing high quality shows, mentoring people, and teaching as well. Recently, Bleu Acier raised the bar with its "First There is a Mountain" show by Greg Perkins, bringing a series of great lecturers to accompany the exhibition. 

The Ybor Artists Association, under fresh leadership from Princess Simpson Rashid, opened the Wandering Eye Gallery next to King Corona Cigar Bar, showing members and rotating a featured artist of the month. The artists studios never looked better, and the co-op gallery is finding its identity and providing much higher visibility at street level. 

I want to see Tampa government more involved with the arts, apparently conscious of their value culturally and economically, and cognizant of the people we have here who can put Tampa on the map in a way nothing else can. 

--- Luis

1 comment:

  1. Luis, what a wonderful service you provide and excellent coverage for the arts in this area. Thank you. I just sent your link to a tourism friend who often writes about central Florida to attract visitors and residents…. have you sent a link to the Mayor's office??