Friday, December 31, 2010

2010, In Memoriam: Bill Binzen and Corinne Day

Two photographers passed away this year. I never met either of them, but loved their work.

Bill Binzen wasn't one of those people who know what they want to be when they grow up since childhood. He and photography did not find each other until he was in his forties, but by then he was ready for it. He became a prominent figure in advertising during the sixties, and enjoyed a long and successful career. He published a few small paperback photo books of his personal work back in the day, one of which I own.

Here's some of Bill's work:


Her Mother ran a brothel. She was raised by her grandmother, "Nan". A failure at school, she took a job as a courier, flying around the world routinely. On a flight, a photographer suggested she become a model, and she did, appearing in ads and magazine covers in places as far as Japan and Australia, where she met her lifetime SO, Mark Szaszy, who would expose and train her in one of his prime interests, photography. Corinne Day thus made the switch from one side of the camera to the other. She began by photographing the models off the runway, in their tattoos, old personal clothes, and cheap, tiny apartments. Phil Bicker, editor of The Face, saw something in her portfolio and hired her.

At a time when fashion photography was surreally perfect (Think Family of Man), Ms. Day took her insider knowledge of the model trade and dared to show its Shadow side. She discovered Kate Moss, who reminded her of her subjects in Milan and got her a cover in 1990. Moss was 16, and she appeared topless and in other pictures the implication was that she was naked. The fashion world had been using younger models and Moss was unlike the others. Corinne Day got her work, used her native attitude, and refused to have her pictures retouched, something unheard of at the time. She and a stylist named Melanie Ward created the waif look, brought grunge into fashion, and later the controversial "heroin chic", which for her was quasi-documentary reality, acknowledging the stressed, drug-laced reality of modeling and her life at the time.

In 1996, when she went to the hospital where she was diagnosed with the brain tumor that would take her life fourteen years later, she asked Szaszy to bring a camera and directed him in taking pictures of her.

She kept working as long as she could, doing fashion and commissions for the National Portrait gallery,  Victoria and Albert Museum, Science and Design, Tate Modern, Saatchi and others. The medical costs of treating her disease in the US were staggering. Her friends and Kate Moss raised more than 100,000 pounds by selling prints on her behalf, but the tumor finally killed what could die of Corinne Day on August of this year.

Vogue's editor, Alexandra Shulman, described Corinne Day as "one of the most influential photographers of her generation".



--- Luis

Thursday, December 30, 2010

This New Year's Weekend: Dec. 31st, 2010 - Jan 2, 2011

Art Taco would like to wish everyone a Happy (and safe) New Year's.

The Last Hurrah @ The Old Dali Museum - As the year ends, say goodbye to the Dali by visiting one last time this weekend. It will be open Friday Dec 31st, 10 AM - 4 PM, Saturday Jan 1, Noon - 6 PM, Sunday Jan 2, Noon to unspecified closing time. That's it until the new one opens. $17 admission for adults, $10 for children 10+ yrs old $4 for kids 5-9. 1000 Third Street South St. Petersburg, FL. The new museum opens on January 11th.

Free Day @ Glazer Children's Museum - Tuesday, Jan 4th, is the 2nd tuesday, free day at the Glazer Children's Museum. Take advantage of this Target sponsored opportunity to take your kids and inner child to the Museum. 110 W. Gasparilla Plaza Tampa

Adios, Kodachrome.

Today was the last day that rolls of Kodachrome were accepted for processing at Dwayne's lab, in Parsons, Kansas. After the last batch is processed, the K-14 machines will be sold for scrap, and an era in Photography comes to an end. Kodachrome, specially the K64, in my opinion, (and I shot thousands of rolls of it) was not truthful, simple, honest nor sentimental. It was the first film for photographing in a hyperreal color mode.

It blew the doors of perception off the hinges. It didn't even attempt forensically faithful reproduction. Anyone who owned a Macbeth chart can tell you this. What was unique about it, and set it apart from every other photon-embracing medium (except for the Lumiere dyed potato starch grain process) was that it was designed by artists, the Leopolds Mannes & Godowsky, not just scientists or technicians. Kodachrome, dripping with character, poetic in nature and almost able to sense the invisible was an extraordinary palette, a work of art in itself. Literally, an art film, not in the sense that it conferred "instant art" status (what does?), but if you allowed the right light and vision to rain down on it , Kodachrome would sing in your hands as nothing else does.

So long, Kodachrome. Rest in peace.

--- Luis

You give us those nice bright colors
You give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah!
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away

                               --- Paul Simon, Kodachrome.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Pure Truth: Photorealism at Tampa Museum of Art.

Realism has taken many forms in Art. In the modern context, it is philosophically derived from Locke and Des Cartes & originated by Thomas Reid, a Scottish "Common Sense" philosopher who replaced no less than Adam Smith at Glasgow. Artistically, Realism arises in 1850's France as a reaction to Romanticism. Championed by Courbet, as a way to get closer to the Truth (and further away from Romanticism), with such works as "Bon Jour Monsieur Courbet" . Photography had already been invented and announced to the world by Daguerre in 1839.

Photorealism began around 1969, derived from Pop Art and partly in reaction to the spontaneous, unplanned brush strokes Abstract Expressionism, the term coined by NYC art dealer Louis K. Meisel, who defined it thusly:

1. The Photo-Realist uses the camera and photograph to gather information.
2. The Photo-Realist uses a mechanical or semimechanical means to transfer the information to the canvas.

[This was usually done by projecting slides]

3. The Photo-Realist must have the technical ability to make the finished work appear photographic.
4. The artist must have exhibited work as a Photo-Realist by 1972 to be considered one of the central Photo-Realists.
5. The artist must have devoted at least five years to the development and exhibition of Photo-Realist work.

  It was first used institutionally the next year in a show at the Whitney called "Twenty-Two Realists". It was also called Super-Realism, New Realism, Sharp Focus Realism, or Hyper Realism at the beginning. The first Photorealists were Richard Estes, Ralph Goings, Chuck Close, Charles Bell, Audrey Flack, Don Eddy, Robert Bechtle and Tom Blackwell.

At this site, you can see the work of ten photo-realist painters.Here's the results for a Google search for Photorealist images.

There were also Photorealist sculptors ("Verists"), the most famous of which is Duane Hanson.

Photorealism continues to this day, but has shifted from a mainly American movement, to a European one.

The pay-off for this rigid way of working was a kind of objectivity, a Pure Truth expressed in paint, not the photographic print. Estes and others took this in different directions. One thing Estes did was to explore the origins of Impressionism via light, space and subjects. Like much Pop Art, Photorealism is concerned with banal, consumerist subjects and everyday scenes.

There is much, much more to Photorealism than this little article, which is meant as a primer for Museum goers to the TMA show to experience the fullness of the work.

Realism: Selections from the Martin Z. Margulies Collection. November 20, 2010 - July 17, 2011 @ Tampa Museum of Art, 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza. Admission $10.00. Museum hours: Mon, Tues, Wed, and Fri from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Thurs from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; and Sat and Sun from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
--- Luis

Friday, December 24, 2010

This Weekend: Dec. 24th - 26th

Wishing you and your loved ones a very  Merry Christmas from Art Taco.

Boxing Day Incident @ Cafe Hey - A WMNF event featuring live music and visual arts at this jewel of an intimate venue.
5-9 PM Sunday, Dec. 26th, 1540 N. Franklin Ave., Tampa. 813.221.5150.

Realism: Selections from the Martin Z. Margulies Collection @ Tampa Museum of Art (TMA) - This is an exhibit resulting from the partnership between the Margulies Collection in Miami and TMA. Fidelity to a real or conceptual referent and its apparent veracity is one of the core issues in the Visual Arts.
Tampa Museum of Art, 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza Tampa. Through July 17th.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dear Santa...

 So you're shopping locally this year. I know I haven't been er...maximally good, perhaps edging into the gray teflon slope of naughty at times. You were probably watching that night at the Refractory show at the Armature Works, weren't you? Remember, I believed in you long after my friends stopped. Maybe too long. Anyway, deserving or not, here's my list for 2010, in no particular order.

1) It's way too big for my house -- or the chimney --, and one can only imagine how much money it would cost to get (or have made) a plexiglass box to fit over it to keep the dust out, but Kim Radatz' "Wishful Thinking"  has been on my mind for some time since I first saw it at C. Emerson's Sapience show.

2) Diane Ding had a suite of four paintings at Mindy Solomon's Tranformative Influences show, and I simply can't bear the cruel thought of separating them, Santa, so all four should stay together -- and on my walls. Here's one.

3) One of Carolina Cleere's paintings of crows, any of them, though the one with the birthday candles below it may be my favorite.

4) A signed book of Orlando poetess Rachel Leona Kapitan's poetry, with the extraordinary poem "Gardener" in it, along with a DVD of her performing it. Or getting to see her "reading" it again.

5) Santa, can you er..."liberate" paintings from private collections? Collections that were here at the St Pete Fine Arts Museum in 2010? You see, there's this painting by Botero, that he kept for himself, and I'm normally not a Botero fan, but there's one in which he depicted himself dressed in drag, which at first appears to be self-mocking... and it took me several visits before realizing one small but significant thing that shifted the entire meaning of the painting: The watch he is wearing in drag looked familiar. Eventually I realized it was exactly the same watch his mother was wearing in another painting. His mother's watch. Maybe it's because my own mother died earlier this year. Or maybe I would have reacted just the same. I don't know, but the title "Melancholy" became scintillatingly clear, and I would love to have it.

6) Nancy Cervenka makes sculptures out of film, yes, film. See here and here . Santa, I could live with any of them.

7) Donna Gordon, the owner of the gallery of the same name creates beautiful, provocative small sculptures. I want one, preferably one where one can see inside the figure.

8) I went to the Car Show this year, and this came across as a work of art, so if there's room in the bag, a light of these. Just leave it in the driveway and the keys in my mailbox, thank you.

9)  Theo Wujcik's Imperial Jade Quarter Pounder  With Cheese [Link] is my kind of take-out, Santa.

10) "Flat Tire" by Mernet Larsen, from the Morean Show, is one of those artworks that has lingered on my mind for months. You know what to do, Santa...

Ok, I'll stop for now...thanks, Santa!

--- Luis

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mernet Larsen: Utility and Beauty @ Mindy Solomon Gallery

I could begin by telling you about Mernet Larsen's distinguished 35-year career at USF until retiring. In between, lecturing  at places like Yale and RISD. Or that some of her students went on to become prominent artists in the area and elsewhere, the distinguished panels in first-rate schools, 25 solo and over 70 group exhibits, or the NEA grant, international stints, but none of it would prepare you for the Larsen paintings being currently shown at Mindy Solomon Gallery.

Take "Ballerina", painted in 2006. The perspective that defines your viewpoint isn't there. Instead, regarding the ballerina and the stage, you're above and to the left. The expressionless couple, who are in an unsustainable pose before the stage, are also to your right, and in front of you, but their seats are almost below you. Notice the receding front of the stage is getting bigger, not smaller, as it gets further away from the viewer. The light is surreal: There are no shadows, but there is slight modeling. We can see no other audience members. Everyone is in their own perspective and space.

In "Walk on a Windy Day", There's two people walking along the window of an eatery. Each seems encapsulated in their own world, and the eatery is empty. It's a little like "nighthawks", except during daytime  The lighting is mildly directional from the restaurant window. Notice the light shadowing around the man's and woman's jawline and arms, yet they cast no shadows. The sidewalk, the figures and the seats of the restaurant booths have a somewhat coherent perspective (about 45-degrees from the viewer), but the floor is at 90 deg or seen from overhead. The "shadows" cast by the booth benches have little to do with the rest of the light direction, and extend the vertical perspective.

Two dour, if not grim-faced young men enter a space carrying large packages in "Shoppers". In a post-9/11 world this is worrisome, or cause for concern. What is concealed in those wrapped packages? Are we right to worry, or are we being paranoid? They are stepping out of a textured, very dark triangle/floor. Note that the man closer to the viewer is seen from above, and the second man who is further away is larger, when he should be smaller, visually, and he is being seen from a low point of view. We can see below the chin of the latter, and not so the former, though we can see the top of his head. On the closer man, the light is coming from his left. On the other one, from the front, and slightly to his right. Again, there are no shadows cast by the figures. Each of the two men are in their own world.

In her artist's statement, Ms. Larsen speaks of her art as "...essences of ordinary events made tangible". Also as "filtered through wry detachment", memory "turned into an object, monumentalized." Unlike many artists who strive to conceal the traces of process in their work, she is at ease with artificiality. The geometry, perspective and the other qualities of the figures and space are deftly used to create tensions and alignments with the events depicted, and in every image, there is a systemic unity between all these aspects in the work.

In spite of the artificiality, the visible components, like tracing paper painted over with acrylics and pasted on to the canvas, these paintings ultimately have a strong gestalt. The effect of the multiple perspectives, at first jarring because the viewer's perception and artistic consciousness are tuned to that we've had since the Renaissance, dislocates one of the viewer's dearest "givens". These paintings change our inner visual language. After you've spent some time with them, they make sense, and their unusual logic becomes clearer.

One of the things that makes a Mindy Solomon Gallery opening is the contact and accessibility of the artists after they talk. At this opening, thanks to the proximity with Thanksgiving, the usual standing-room-only arts crowd was sparse. This gave me a golden opportunity to converse with Ms. Larsen. The amount and depth of research, study, passion and preparation that goes into these paintings is vast, yet only a springboard to her transformative creativity. She is very cognizant of issues in Art History and explores some very esoteric things with which she is fluent: A parody and critique of Renaissance narrative painting. Chinese landscape. El Lissiztky (hints of Suprematism and Proun). Temporary overnight cloth forts used in Uidapur, India transformed into what looks like a coffin in "Icon". During our talk I mention that the isolation of the figures brings to mind Hopper. She smiles, and says that Hopper was on her mind during some of the paintings, pointing to "Walk on a Windy Day". We talk about the perspective, the vertiginous spaces, and I say something about how these tensions create a higher-order tuning-fork resonance(s), something akin to music. All the time, Mernet is transparent, friendly, openly sharing her love of art, interfacing, finding common ground, while gently leading and educating as well.

 A special note of thanks to Mernet Larsen for kindly taking time to talk and to Mindy Solomon for making all this possible.

I'll end by telling you this: Make time to see this one. I'll be going back to see it again.

--- Luis

At Mindy Solomon Gallery. Runs through Dec. 31st. 124 2nd Ave NE, St Petersburg. 727.502.0852

Understanding Conceptual Art: Sol Le Witt

This is a good primer on understanding Conceptual Art:

Sentences on Conceptual Art

by Sol Lewitt

  1. Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.
  2. Rational judgements repeat rational judgements.
  3. Irrational judgements lead to new experience.
  4. Formal art is essentially rational.
  5. Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.
  6. If the artist changes his mind midway through the execution of the piece he compromises the result and repeats past results.
  7. The artist's will is secondary to the process he initiates from idea to completion. His wilfulness may only be ego.
  8. When words such as painting and sculpture are used, they connote a whole tradition and imply a consequent acceptance of this tradition, thus placing limitations on the artist who would be reluctant to make art that goes beyond the limitations.
  9. The concept and idea are different. The former implies a general direction while the latter is the component. Ideas implement the concept.
  10. Ideas can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical.
  11. Ideas do not necessarily proceed in logical order. They may set one off in unexpected directions, but an idea must necessarily be completed in the mind before the next one is formed.
  12. For each work of art that becomes physical there are many variations that do not.
  13. A work of art may be understood as a conductor from the artist's mind to the viewer's. But it may never reach the viewer, or it may never leave the artist's mind.
  14. The words of one artist to another may induce an idea chain, if they share the same concept.
  15. Since no form is intrinsically superior to another, the artist may use any form, from an expression of words (written or spoken) to physical reality, equally.
  16. If words are used, and they proceed from ideas about art, then they are art and not literature; numbers are not mathematics.
  17. All ideas are art if they are concerned with art and fall within the conventions of art.
  18. One usually understands the art of the past by applying the convention of the present, thus misunderstanding the art of the past.
  19. The conventions of art are altered by works of art.
  20. Successful art changes our understanding of the conventions by altering our perceptions.
  21. Perception of ideas leads to new ideas.
  22. The artist cannot imagine his art, and cannot perceive it until it is complete.
  23. The artist may misperceive (understand it differently from the artist) a work of art but still be set off in his own chain of thought by that misconstrual.
  24. Perception is subjective.
  25. The artist may not necessarily understand his own art. His perception is neither better nor worse than that of others.
  26. An artist may perceive the art of others better than his own.
  27. The concept of a work of art may involve the matter of the piece or the process in which it is made.
  28. Once the idea of the piece is established in the artist's mind and the final form is decided, the process is carried out blindly. There are many side effects that the artist cannot imagine. These may be used as ideas for new works.
  29. The process is mechanical and should not be tampered with. It should run its course.
  30. There are many elements involved in a work of art. The most important are the most obvious.
  31. If an artist uses the same form in a group of works, and changes the material, one would assume the artist's concept involved the material.
  32. Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution.
  33. It is difficult to bungle a good idea.
  34. When an artist learns his craft too well he makes slick art.
  35. These sentences comment on art, but are not art.

First published in 0-9 (New York), 1969, and Art-Language (England), May 1969

Friday, December 17, 2010

This Weekend: Dec. 17th - 19th

Christmas seems to have blitzed in this year. I hear people saying they're done with their shopping, and each time it sends a flurry of little panics through me. Eight shopping days left (ack!).

Closing for "Fused" @ Silver Meteor Gallery - This is a great exhibit based on a simple idea of artists making work on a musical theme from one piece of music. AT was there at opening night. Each artist created their work within the confines of a box of the same size, which goes to show that inside the box is not all bad. Next to the work is a headset so you can hear the music the work is based on. Great show, beautifully curated, and The Silver Meteor is a great venue.

Silver Meteor Gallery. 6-9 PM Sunday, 2213 E. Sixth Ave. Ybor City Tampa. Free.

Small Works @ Clayton Gallery - 27 artists offering works that measure 24 inches or less in several kinds of media. Clayton Galleries, 4105 S. MacDill Ave. Tampa. Free admission. 10 AM - 5PM Tue. through Friday. Closes January 22.

Craft Fest @ Artpool -  An outdoor arts & crafts sale that is a great last chance to buy an unusual, hand-made gift for someone on your list as the Big Day approaches. AT will be there doing last-minute shopping. Be sure to go inside Art Pool and check out the art & clothes there, too.
Art Pool, 919 1st Ave N., St Petersburg. 10 AM - 4PM.

Gulfport Art Walk - Arts, Crafts, Antiques, Glass and more at the Gulfport Art Walk. Sidewalk exhibitors line the downtown street. Beach Blvd, Gulfport, Saturday 6-8 PM.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Eyes Have It: The Mona Lisa Code

A book printed fifty years ago mentioned that in The Mona Lisa painting, there are symbols and characters painted inside the figure's eyes. The book was recently rediscoevered and the existence of the characters confirmed by Italy's National Committee for Cultural Heritage.

"In the right eye appear to be the letters LV which could well stand for his name Leonardo Da Vinci while in the left eye there are also symbols but they are not as defined.
He said: "It is very difficult to make them out clearly but they appear to be the letters CE or it could be the letter B - you have to remember the picture is almost 500 years old so it is not as sharp and clear as when first painted.
"While in the arch of the bridge in the background the number 72 can be seen, or it could be an L and the number 2."

See here: [Link]

--- Luis

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Midtown Through Our Eyes @ Cafe Kahwah

I first saw a larger version of this show at Studio @ 620 back in Oct 2010. A smaller version of it (apparently without the poetry readings) is presently hanging at Cafe Kahwah, one of my favorite Sunday morning haunts -- and where I am presently typing this from). I have re-posted part of my Oct. review here. If you missed this earlier, be sure to see it this time.

[Normally, Journalism is not the province of Art Taco, but in this case, I'm making an exception. The Journeys in Journalism Program summer camp in Midtown is doing something extraordinary.]

Midtown is a 5 and-a-half square-mile area. Forgotten by the city for years, it languished with minimal services of the kind that other St. Petersburg neighborhoods fully enjoyed. Mayor Baker decided to bring change and there has been some and development in the area in the last five years. There were many snags, such as when the USPS refused to locate a Post Office in MidTown. They relented a year and a half later. New businesses and developments are now part of the scene in Midtown.

The Journeys in Journalism Program summer camp in Midtown brought together 44 students from three schools, Melrose Elementary, John Hopkins Middle School, and Lakewood High Schools. The camp runs for about three weeks at each school. The students learn photography, writing, and basic journalistic skills, and it's not just theory, but hands-on practice, and lots of it. The result is the professional-caliber Midtown Magazine, a traveling exhibit of over 100 photographs, and poetry the Journalists have written.

Journalism does much more than that which it does best: report life. It is also current local history, being laid down, a record of a time, place, and people. In this case, by those living it, telling their story as no one else can. Congratulations to Journeys in Journalism, for the excellent training, alighting on imaginations and hearts, with positive consequences reaching far into the future.

  At the first Kahwah Cafe, 204 2nd Ave. South. St Petersburg from the 2nd week of December.  No one at the cafe seems to know the closing date (!) .

Holiday Schedule and Fine Art Sale @ C. Emerson Fine Arts

C. Emerson Fine Arts is welcome back from a successful week at Aqua in Miami (Congratulations!) and is wrapping up 2010 with a Holiday Fine Art Sale.  I see lots of great buys here...

Special Holiday Hours:
Saturday December 11th 11AM to 8 PM
Tuesday December 14 - Friday December 17 11AM-4PM
Saturday December 18th 11AM-8PM
Monday December 20 - Thursday December 23 11AM- 4PM

Closed for Holiday vacation December 24 - January 14th

or shop online....[Link]

--- Luis

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ybor Art Colony Open House

Ybor Art Colony [Link] is a group of artist's studios located on Seventh Avenue, on the 1500 block on the 2nd floor. Art Taco used to go there during the Ybor Art Walks to see work and the artists in their open studios. A month ago, the Colony had its first Open House in a long time. The Colony hallways are now clear, the floors sparkling, sparkling and the walls newly painted. It has a new director, Hance Clay [Link].

Hance's roomy studio [Link] has surfboards leaning against the wall, along with this work, paintings in the form of a wide variety of portraits, figures, landscapes [Link], florals [Link] and abstracts. The work has a distinctive color palette, spirituality, intensity and at times, it reflects Hance's sense of humor.

At the top of the stairs that connect the Ybor Art Colony to Seventh Avenue in Ybor is Jason Shiver's studio. Jason works in different media including paint, pencil, pastels, charcoal and a welding torch. His talents became apparent early, as in this painting, "Mother and Child", he made when he was eleven years old [Link].
There are portraits [Link], commissioned and uncommissioned, of people -- and pets. There are several ecologically-themed paintings and sculptures in his body of work [Link]. There are the representational works, in which Jason departs from realism and his imagination takes flight [Link]. From the way Jason paints and sculpts fish, he must have spent lots of time on or in the water. AT had the pleasure of speaking with Moira Shiver, Jason's charming wife and most enthusiastic supporter.

Some of Jason's latest paintings are still works in progress in his studio, and concern current economic and political conditions. They're in the same passionate vein as his ecologically themed works. 
At the very back of that hallway is the  Fashion Design Studio of Elizabeth Carson Racker, who is a native of Tampa. At age twelve she attended an Ebony Fashion Fair show. Years later, after lots of work and a bachelor's degree at Savannah College of Art and Design, she began working with the Ebony Fashion Fair and her senior collection was purchased and featured in the Ebony Fashion Fair's 2006-2007 Stylishly Hot Fashion Show. Her designs were also featured in the 2007-2008 Glam Odyssey Fashion Show and other shows from Tampa to NYC since.  At the opening a month ago, the hallways were lined with people and photographers eager to see Ms. Racker's elegant formal evening wear designs, which you can see here [Link]

  Adjacent to Hance Clay's studio is a smaller one practically wallpapered with multi-hued figures and spaces occupying every square inch of the canvases. In medieval paintings this kind of density is known as horrovacuity. Greg Latch's prolific output covers the walls of his studio. Greg is one of those people that one feels a kind of instant intimacy with. He's very friendly, funny, smiles beautifully, and, like his paintings, is full of life. [Link]

From his biography on his site:

"I drew all the time, no video games back then and no art in the schools. The only art classes I had was at bible school. After I got older I drew for the church, I think mainly because no one else wanted to."

His art is varied, eclectic and intensely human. [Link], [Link], [Link].


Treat yourself to the Ybor Arts Colony Open House this Saturday, Dec 11th at 1521 1/2 Seventh Avenue, from 5-9 PM. The quality and variety of the work, the reasonable prices, delightful, talented, creative and skilled people make for an enchanted  evening.

--- Luis

This Weekend, Dec 10th - 12th.

Ybor Art Colony Open House - This gem of a cluster of artists' studios holds an open house Saturday @ 5 PM Free. Ybor Art Association, 1521 1/2 E. Seventh Ave. Tampa. 813.495.4649. (see associated article above)

Art T-Shirts @ Tempus - Fourteen artists. including Suzanne Camp Crosby, exhibit their t-shirts at the Tempus Garage Gallery. All for $15 dollars or less. You select your choice, and they print it there while you wait. There will be a video by Rob Fladry and Aaron Hutchinson showing in the courtyard. Friday, Dec 10th @ 5132 N. Florida Avenue. AT recommended food segue: The Taco Bus.

Work @ West Tampa Center for The Arts - 75 new works from 30 emerging USF artists. This is their first one. Get there early for a crack at the hors d'oeuvres and prizes. 7-11PM, Friday Dec 10th, at West Tampa Center for The Arts, 1906 N. Armenia Ave Tampa FL. $3 suggested donation. 813.453.4381

Roser Park Arts & Crafts Show - The show is good, but the location is extraordinary. One of the most beautiful areas in St. Pete hosts a sidewalk art show. AT finds this a great way to spend a golden afternoon with a friend. Tours of Homes offered this year, too. Historic Roser Park, 500 Roser Park Drive, St. Petersburg. Saturday and Sunday Dec 11th & 12th. Parking available free at the Bayfront Medical Center. 727.772.3860

 Invisible in The City @ 620 - Human Rights Day @ Studio 620. Stories, Music, and more. Friday and Saturday Dec. 10-11th. Free. Studio @ 620, 620 1st Ave S. St Petersburg. 813.558.5841 Call for hours.

St Pete Downtown Artwalk - Galleries and studios open up to the public at night. Get a list of locations and map by going to:  [Link].  Starts Saturday, Dec 11th, @ 5:30 PM.


The Jemseks @ Craftsman House - Enjoy S'mores at the fire with the artists and demonstrations of working methods as they celebrate their 5 yr anniversary. Saturday, Dec 11th, @ Craftsman House, 2955 Central Ave, St Petersburg. Free. Starts @ 5 PM.

Tour De Clay - The third annual Tour de Clay opens six pottery artists' studios to the general public, offering freshly-made clay goods straight out of the kiln for purchase.

Pottery Boys Clay Studios, 30 Bogie Lane, Palm Harbor. Kiln @ 9:00 AM

Clay and Paper Studio, 110 Peterson Lane, Palm Harbor. Kiln @ 10:00 AM

Rising Sun Pottery, 1112 W Carmen St, Tampa. Kiln @ noon.

Wellman and Welsh Pottery 17202 Whirley Road, Lutz. Kiln @ 2 PM

Hidden Lake Pottery, 16705 Hutchinson Road, Odessa. Kiln @ 3 PM

San Antonio Pottery, 11903 Curley Road, San Antonio. Kiln @ 5 PM

 Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM. Saturday Dec 11th, and 11 AM to 4 PM Sunday, Dec 12th. A party will be held at the last opening on Saturday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"REGENERATION", Cassia Kite @ Cafe Bohemia

Sometimes you run into art by accident. Wednesday evening Art Taco went to Cafe Bohemia, one of our favorite hangouts, to see Alex, grab a sandwich and watch Oliver Stone's South America movie and friends at Electric Voodoo Tattoos just a few doors down.

Hanging on the Cafe Bohemia walls was new work by Cassia Kite, from her series "REGENERATION". Cassia's artists' statement says about this work: "...Constructs can be based on observations or experiences and can be used to organize, interpret, and approach their existing presence and their nostalgia of the past."

Several of them were pallid mid-western landscapes reduced to basic, still-recognizable lines with organic splashes of paint, some looking amorphous, others stormy or like portents. There were many variations on the theme. Without any accessible links to connect the AT reader to the work, I'll stop here and say that this is an exhibit well worth seeing.

Cafe Bohemia's Wednesday Movie Nights are delightful, intimate, extraordinary events. The movies tend to be of a political nature, but all are first-rate. Wear something warm, bring a blanket and a folding chair (there's often more people than chairs) indulge yourself  with a hot chocolate, a sandwich and/or the falafels and cozy up.

Cafe Bohemia, 937 Central Avenue St. Petersburg, FL 33705-1646 (727) 895-4495 has Movie Nights every Wednesday. Admission is free, and the experience is like what movies used to be a long time ago, not the distanced multiplex isolation. Very refreshing. Next week is Michael Moore's take on Capitalism. Cafe Bohemia is closed Monday nights and does open mike on Thursday evenings, also free admission.

Cassia Kite's work will be on exhibit until Dec. 19th when a closing reception will be held.

--- Luis

Thursday, December 2, 2010

This Weekend: Dec 3rd - 5th

[Next Tuesday] Free Day @ Glazer Museum - The first Tuesday of every month, 4-8 PM. 110 W. Gasparilla Place, Tampa. 813.443.3861

Sight & Sound: Fused @ Silver Meteor Gallery - An art exhibit at this extraordinarily cool multi-use space in Ybor, combined with live music. The artists will visually interpret the music being played (!). Saturday, Dec 4th, 8-11 PM, 2213 E. Sixth Ave, Ybor City. $2 Admission. Runs through Dec 19th, when a closing party will be held. After the opening, gallery open by appointment only. 813.300.3585

15th Annual Holiday Show & Sale @ Clay Company - Big sale of clay items. Saturday, Dec. 4th., 10AM - 5 PM, Sunday, Dec. 6th Noon - 5 PM. Free admission. Demonstrations. St. Petersburg Clay Company, 420 22nd St. S., St Petersburg. 727.896.2529

Palm Harbor Fine Arts and Crafts Festival - Saturday Dec. 4th, 10AM - 5 PM, Sunday, Dec 5th 10AM to 4 PM. Free.

Visual Unity II @ Polk Museum of Art - Eight sets of pairs of collaborating artists and one threesome constitute this interesting exhibit. Polk Museum of Art, 800 E. Palmetto St, Lakeland.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mindy Solomon @ SCOPE Miami

If you're going to Miami for the Art Basel Show, do stop by at SCOPE and see St. Petersburg gallerina and Art Taco friend Mindy Solomon's exhibit, which, among 75 others, is housed in an 80,000 square foot pavilion across the street from Art Miami, in the heart of the Wynwood Gallery Arts District.

 “This season we want to highlight SCOPE’s lead role as creative R+D for a wider audience of taste makers who make art their business,” says their President & Founder Alexis Hubshman. “Introducing artists, curators, and cutting-edge galleries to new international audiences has made SCOPE the most comprehensive destination for the emerging art world.”

It is financially a very successful venue, claiming sales of over $100 million and attendance of over 30,000 visitors from their shows in Miami, Basel, New York, London and the Hamptons.

 Mindy Solomon is taking work from Jeremy Chandler, Muir Vidler & SunKwan Kwon.

Location: Wynwood Gallery Arts District | 3055 North Miami Avenue | Miami, Florida 33127

--- Luis

Sunday, November 28, 2010

C.Emerson @ Aqua 10

Going to Art Basel in Miami? Be sure to drop by the Aqua Hotel at 1530 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, on Collins A short walk south of Art Basel Miami Beach across from the Loews Hotel. Aqua's organizers are Seattle-based, and it is a premier venue for West Coast and emerging artists.  

St. Petersburg gallerina Lori Johns, owner/director of the C. Emerson gallery -- and friend of Art Taco -- will be exhibiting at Aqua, with her stable of artists, Lee Basford, Kyan Bishop, CLayton Chandler, Dirk Dziminsky, Rocky Grimes, Francesco Lo Castro, Kristen Margiotta, and Leah Oates.

I know she has devoted a tremendous amount of energy into this show, and want to wish her the very best at Art Aqua.[Link]

--- Luis

Ps. Aqua will be running free shuttles to Art Basel during regular event hours, picking up at Art Basel's designated shuttle stop, (corner of 17th St. & Washington Ave).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Heights, Fire Inspections, and Johnna Guzman

  Art doesn't happen in a vacuum. A lot of the time it requires a building to house it. The same goes for art parties. One of the great venues for parties in Tampa is "The Heights", AKA "The Trolley Barn" and "Tampa Armature Works", all having to do with the 100 yr old building's various incarnations. It is a 70,000 sq. ft. building in three long rectangular partitions.

Johnna Guzman is an event coordinator who put on a great and successful art party and show for the Dogma pet rescue people earlier this year called "Barkin Hearts", with an Alice in Wonderland theme (and fire eaters!). In between, there's been several events held at The Heights, some of which Art Taco (AT) attended, including Oktoberfest (where AT was an er...uninvited guest) and the Refractory Show, which was reviewed here. More than 6,000 people attended Oktoberfest, drinking 102 kegs in 3 days. Thousands came for Nude Nite, Pride on Seventh and Tampa Bay Fashion Week. The Fire Dept could see no problems with the building for any of those events.

The problem is that the structure does not meet fire safety codes, according to Tampa Fire Marshall Russell Spicola. Of course, it hasn't met them for a very long time, over the course of several events. Halloween Haunted Houses reportedly have stricter requirements, such as the flammability of the materials used. However, some of the deficiencies noted by the Fire Dept have little to do with that, and should have applied to all events there, such as the lack of illuminated fire exits.

The Fire Dept ended up pulling the Plug on Dogma's benefit less than a week before it was to go on. Ms. Guzman lost $5,000 plus her revenues for putting on the event. Dogma lost a fundraiser, and Tampa, a great party.

Darren Booth of The Heights' development, has agreed to comply with the TFD demands and is working on a plan to bring everything up to code. It is a real shame that this show was cancelled, and that nothing could be worked out to allow it to go on. The lesson here for all event coordinators is to check with the TFD as to the viability of the venue, whether it has been approved for Public Assembly, etc. and get it written into the contract.

Ms. Guzman is an irresistible force, and AT looks forward to her next event.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

This Thanksgiving/Black Friday Weekend: Nov 26th - 28th

After the big (gobble, gobble) day, when everyone in your house (including the cat) is living on the Elena Ruiz diet [Link], and memories of camping outside Wal-Mart for a shot at the 5 AM rush are making you wish you could swing by a Walgreen's and pick up one of these [Link] life goes on. This weekend a few art venues are mimicking retail stores (have you seen the Florida Craftsman Gallery windows lately?) competing with their own "Black Friday".

Black Friday Art and Fashion Event - Vitale Studio and Local 662 are having a sale. Fifty artists' work will be for sale. After 6 PM, it turns into an art opening party, with DJ Mega, and a fashion show with Frank Strunk III & MisRed.  Blue Lucy, Chris Parks, Tes One, Dan Lastata, Kathryn Cole, J. Vitale, Kate Cummings, Bradley Askew, Josh Sullivan, HUGO, Kendra Bailey and others. Friday, Nov 26th, 10AM-5PM free, $5 after 6PM. to midnight. Fashion show begins at 9PM. Vitale Art Studio, 651 Central Ave.  St. Petersburg.

Black Friday @ St. Petersburg Clay Company - Usable, hand-made ceramics and decorative pieces made by Clay Company members go on sale. Demonstrations of the process will be on exhibit during the day. Friday,  Nov 26th, 10 AM - 5 PM, 420 22nd St. S, St Petersburg.

Fatima Rice @ Studio 620 - Friday, Nov 26th, opening reception for an installation by Fatima Rice. Free. Through Dec 4th. 620 First Ave S. St Petersburg.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving To All

Wishing everyone here a Happy Thanksgiving. When I give thanks tomorrow, I will be thanking everyone that has helped to make Art Taco a success. Our members, readers, the gallerists, cafe and bar owners, the dear, beautiful friends that accompany and support me on my rounds, and the ones who encouraged the start of Art Taco. Last, but not least, a bow in gratitude to all the artists without whom our lives would be much poorer. Have a wonderful day.

--- Luis

Ps. [Link]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

University of Tampa Plays @ Falk Theater: Sweet Charity

   Last Sunday Art Taco and friends went to see the University of Tampa's production of "Sweet Charity" at the Falk theater. It was directed by Director and choreographer Marguerite Bennett, UT associate professor of speech, theater and dance, along with co-choreographer and UT dance professor Linda Lopez. With two month's rehearsals, they, along with a talented and well-trained cast, brought the classic Neil Simon play to life onstage. Bob Fosse choreographed the original version, and Mss. Bennet and Lopez did a great job there, too.

A wide range of period costumes, seventy in all, were expertly designed and created by Bobby Ann Loper and Frank Chavez.

 Technical director Alex Amyot's sets transformed seamlessly from one scene to another.

The student cast was nothing short of phenomenal, and not just the protagonists but everyone on stage sang, danced and performed their hearts out. Congratulations!

It was an excellent theatrical experience. The run for Sweet Charity is over, but keep an eye on Art Taco's "This Weekend" section for their next play.

--- Luis

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Invisible Art: The LAPD's Stolen Art Database

  Here's a glimpse of art in private collections you'd normally never see. The LAPD keeps a database of stolen art on its site. Enjoy....


[Scroll down to stolen art and choose your medium]

--- Luis

Friday, November 19, 2010

Berlin @ The Ritz: Three Artists

The Square One Events at the Ritz bring in a large number of artists, who are vetted by Okie, and pay an admission fee & get a space (4x6 ft or so) in the form of a pegboard, or multiples thereof. There's a lot of variety and media, except for sculpture, which is rare (and hard to hang on a pegboard). Lighting at the Ritz is spotty, no pun intended, a difficult mix between getting enough light to see and appreciate the work and maintaining the subdued atmosphere one normally associates with a bar -- and that's in the two front rooms. In the large back room by the stage, when events begin, the lights are dimmed to minimal levels. Some of the art is barely visible. On the other hand, that room often has the most viewers in it.

In that room, around a corner, was the work of Carrie Vail, a painter who came to Tampa three years ago via Las Vegas, where she lived at the time construction and the real estate bubble were peaking, rapidly erasing historical landmarks -- all at a fevered pitch. The artist seems to have been affected by this shockwave in her landscapes, some of  which show a multitude of clone-houses flooding the conceptual space inside the frame. [Link]

These houses are skeletal, ghostly, incomplete, definitely not homes, and strewn around in a dystopic fashion. Made of paint and tape, the tears at the ends of the tape add a touch of emotion/passion to the work. Paint drips and horizontal tape add up to a subtle visual grid in these pictures. My personal favorite: [Link]

  [Link] Note the cascade of paper refuse down the outside of the frame in this one. Carrie is very well aware and riffs off the potential of the frame as a visual and conceptual element, not just a container for the image. She does this in an incisive self-portrait [Link]    where she is staring deadpan, almost Durer-like [Link] but recontextualized into 2010, and feminine manner, into what appears to be the camera lens, including some typical monotaxic perspective distortion (what is referred to in photography as 'lightbulb head'). This portrait plays with the edge, including the information the camera provides. We can see the timestamp, brand, number of rolls through the camera (rolls in a digicam?), even the status of the battery, which might be symbolic for the artist's condition, or not. Self-referential, it alludes to the dual processes via which it was made, and adds a secondary frame.

Another stand-out (self-portrait?) is this [Link]. Love two things about this one, first, how the figure's elongated left arm forms a secondary frame, and the concept of the artist being nude, but not naked. The black and red background...half-passion, half-mystery. She still retains her identity as a mystery, her eyes masked by what appears to be the shadow of the arm. And the gesture is delightfully, perfectly, ambivalent: I have no way of knowing if it's being donned or removed. The artist revealing and concealing herself simultaneously.

Last, but not least, is this [Link] great heart in the conceptual landscape. Note that the biological heart is also framed by a white, spiritual one. In this landscape, the hearts are dominant, the meaty one's blood vessels look like expressway cloverleaf interchanges. Here the houses relegated to subdued, small forms, more orderly, and if one looks, there are other, smaller hearts that have nested among the now-rooted houses, no, make that homes.

--- Luis

[The following review was written by Art Taco correspondent Lydia Gottardi]

Always a treat at Square One is the table of Case Max,a  graphic illustrator who sells affordable reproductions of his stunningly-detailed pen and ink drawings (some in color) of subjects as varied as ancient gods to Death Metal figures to Japanese fashion, with hommages to heroic feats of myth and folklore, like "Enki, son of Anu", a Sumerian hero who saved humanity from the great Flood, to "The revenge of Sakata Kintoki", a Japanese superhero.

"Gothic Lolita", is a Shinjuku-Girl vision of Nabakov's nymph taken a shade darker with Goth sensibilities, as if Lolita and Vivian Darkbloom (an anagram for Vladimir Nabokov) have spawned a teenager. Whether esoteric, apocalyptic, or darkly playful in tone, Case Max's emblematic drawings all have his unmistakable style. [Link].

--- Lydia

Melisa Taylor's card reads: "artist/photographer/crafter & dessert maker".  In her shop announcement at ETSY, she writes: "I love to show others the way I see things, nature, beauty, every day objects.". Over at Twitter, her bio reads: "Pastry Chef, Crafty Chick, Artsy Phartsy, Foodie, Silly Girl.". The jewelry she makes (some out of skateboards) is also creative, innovative and beautifully designed. It's Melisa's photography that caught my eye. She's shown at several other Square One events.

Melisa's macros are colorful and passionate [Link], and beautifully composed [Link]. Here is a well-seen composite panoramic picture from pre-Katrina NOLA: [Link]. She works with a wide variety of cameras and formats, from the square (in "toy" cameras to Hasselblads) 20x24 Polaroid, to panoramic. There's a light-hearted, grounded, at times humorous, egalitarian quality to her pictures coupled with sensitivity, intelligence, constant exploration, and strong, living, organic sense of design. Her attitude reminds me of Elsa Dorfman's, with a sweet transparency into her life. 


--- Luis

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This Weekend: Nov. 19th-21st

The days are becoming shorter as the year's shadow lengthens. Beautiful, cool days are here...

Utility and Beauty @ Mindy Solomon Gallery - In Art, as in Mathematics, the relationship between utility and beauty has a long history. Ms. Solomon has been subtly exploring apparent dualities in her shows for some time. In this show, she brings us Mernet Larsen, Joseph Pintz, Ingrid Bathe, Patricia Sannit, and Chris Tongard.

Opens Saturday (along with artist's talk, one of the signature features of a Mindy Solomon opening night), Nov 20th @ 6:00 PM Runs through Dec. 31st. 124 2nd Ave NE, St Petersburg. 727.502.0852

Duality @ Centre Gallery - Photographs by Zornitza Natcheva. Desire vs. Expectation. Opening Friday, Nov. 19th, 7-9PM, runs through Nov 24th. Phylis P. Marshall Center, USF, Tampa. 4202 E. Fowler Ave.
Parking is $5. 813.974.5464

Art After Dark @ Tampa Museum of Art - These Art parties are great mixers. This one is themed around the Arte 2010 festival of the Americas. $10. TMA, 120 Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa.

Retro Art Show @ Bamboozle Cafe - Floridian/Tampan Art from 1930 to 1980. Ferdie Pacheco, Burgert Bros, Clyde Butcher, Mario de Ferrante, Bernard Buffet, Johnathan Winters, Arnold Blanch, Lebadang, and many, many others.
Through Nov 30th. 516 N. Tampa St. Tampa. 813.223.7320.

Remember Me, by David Parsons @ Straz Center for the Performing Arts - The East Village Opera Company performs with Parsons Dance. Saturday, Nov 20th, 7:30 PM, Ferguson Hall at the Straz Jr. Center. $39.50 - 59.50 plus service charge.
Art Dresses @ Syd Entel - Mixed media dresses by Karazyna Karbownik, William Todd McCLure, Kathleen Holmes, Craig Alan, Donna McCullough, and Sarah Atkinson.
Through November 30th. 247 Main Street, Safety Harbor. 727.725.1808

Artful Holiday @ Artful Living - Outdoor Art gift fair. Central Ave. and 11th st. St. Petersburg. Sunday, Nov 21st. 11 AM-4PM. 

Craft Art 2010 - Outdoor craft show at Florida Craftsmen Gallery, 501 Central Ave. St. Petersburg. 10 AM - 5PM Saturday and Sunday, Free.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Berlin" @ The Ritz, by Square One. Part I - The Event.

Okesene Tilo and Jason Moriarty are the principals in the Square One production company, [Link] which, among many other events, puts together two yearly art parties at the Ritz in Ybor [Link]. I have been going to these events since the 2nd one. All have been creative, very well put together, with extreme attention to details, including fast, competent bartending, ample, tactful security manpower on hand, scrupulous adherence to the fire codes,  lots of beautiful people (and models) surgically clean bathrooms, well-timed performances, and more.

 Everything an event should be, and for the price of admission ($2!!!), something anyone can afford in these hard economic times , and perhaps the best event-admission bargain in the state. You might think Square One would be satisfied, lean back and rest on its laurels, but that's not the case. To their credit, and Tampa's benefit, they've been raising the bar for themselves (and others in the area) with every event. And thankfully, it's not just about amping up the spectacular, but the subtleties that go into a multifaceted and memorable evening with something for everyone, including the performers and artists. And...a thematic sensitivity to the zeitgeist.

Bella Danza and the VYB Dance company put on well-choreographed, energized performances. Great music and singers, too.

The "Fashion Show Experience", by Miami fashion designer Paul Raymond was excellent, according to one of Art Taco's beautiful, fashion-savvy friends. Lots of ruffles, high waistlines, legs that went all the way to Canada, bows, chiffon and much more. Airy and light. The models, gorgeous and professional.

Visual artists lined the walls of all the rooms, too many to review them all. In Part II, we will be reviewing three of them.

Congratulations to Oki, Jason and everyone involved for another great evening, and for contributing part of the proceeds to the Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture & the Arts' high school scholarship program. 

--- Luis

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This Weekend: Nov. 12th - 14th

"Berlin" @ Square One @ The Ritz - Okesene Tilo brings us "Berlin", a Square One production event combining art being exhibited, dance, song, fashion and other performers. There will also be a Berlin Wall. guests are encouraged to wear something purple.

7 pm - Midnight, Sat. Nov 13th, Ritz Theater, 1503 E. Seventh Avenue, Ybor City. (Tampa) $2 Admission.

Ybor Art Colony Open House - Just a few doors east of the Ritz, walk over and see the Art Colony, a warren of working artists' studios.  5PM - 9 PM, Sat. Nov. 13th. A Fashion Show by designer Elizabeth Carson Racker will take place. 813.495.4649. 1521 1/2 E. Seventh Ave. Ybor City, Tampa. It's one skinny door, sometimes with no sign on it, so look carefully.

Deck The Halls @ Artlofts at Florida Craftsmen - Artist-made gifts for the holidays, including ornaments, go on exhibit and are for sale. Opening on Saturday, Nov 13th, 5:30-8:30 PM, on Gallery Walk.
Runs Nov 12th to Dec 11th. 10 5th N. St (2nd floor). St Petersburg.

Calling (615) @ Temnpus Projects - Multimedia art exhibit of Nashville artists Nicole Baumann, Derek Cote', Shara De Witt, And Rnald Lambert. Opens Saturday Nov 13th, Party is free to the public. Runs Nov. 13th -26th. Tempus Projects, 5132 N. Florida Avenue.

Obots @ Interior Motives Gallery - Sculptures resembling robots made from found objects that double as home furnishings (!). Opens Sat. Nov 13th from 6PM-9PM. Exhibit runs from Nov 13th to Dec. 5th. At 1110 Central Ave, St Petersburg.

Art Dresses @ Syd Entel - This established gallery is showing dresses made of a variety of materials by Karazyna Karbownik, William Todd McClure, Kathleen Holmes, Craig Alan, Donna McCullough, and Sarah Atkinson. Opening reception on Saturday, Nov 13th, 6-8 PM. Runs Nov 13th-30th. 247 Main St. Safety Harbor. 727.725.1808.

Studio @ 620 Juried Art Show / Works on Paper - Drawings, paintings, prints and installations. Nov 13-22.  620 First Ave S. St Petersburg. Check for hours here: 727.895.6620

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who am I this time?: Point & Shoot Yourself @ Pale Horse

  Pale Horse Design and Gallery is the studio of Graphic Designer Chris Parks. It is a multi-purpose space which occasionally transforms into a gallery, or more recently, into a combination gallery and Halloween Fun House.

Photographs of a cross-country trip by Allen Leper Hampton from a cross-country trip  premiered on the wall. See here.

The team of artists, composed of , Aziritt, Casey Paquet, Chase Donald, Allen Leper Hampton and Pale Horse put together a series of installations designed for participants (no mere spectators here) to take their photographs in various guises and incarnations. There was a Gothic "mirror" to pose in. See here. And here. One could be a large robotic super-hero type, make-up optional, a skeleton in eternal repose for a moment in a coffin (no carbs, no protein), or this (Todd Sweeny, Dracula, or?),  a robot, or a furry-headed tiger or a pig.

It was a delightful, creative, and very photogenic evening.

--- Clint Thomas & Luis

( This report was largely compiled by guest blogger Clint Thomas, printer at Artful Living. He can be seen here. He's the one in costume.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: Pipe Dreams @ Collective

The Collective has a current show of glass pipes, the kind that are found in headshops with the tags "For Tobacco Use Only", which means they will never be used for that. These are hand-made, mostly glass pipes, or bongs in the vernacular, along with the everpresent Frank Strunk III rusty metal  Strunk-Punk variety, and a few paintings themed around playing/Tarot? cards. One of the principals there told me the show "wasn't curated", which leaves the imagination to wonder how it all happened. Did the participants just come in and hang whatever they brought? 

I can't recommend this show as a fine-art exhibit, and that's the strength (and weakness) of it. This is the kind of show that should get the viewer thinking about what art is. Some of the glass pipes are decorative at best, some are very utilitarian, others are objects of contemplation. All are beautiful. I do think this show is well worth seeing, for engaging in a dialogue with what is there, and not so much how one would categorize it, but questioning its identity -- and your own.

--- Luis 

Collective, 601 Central Avenue, St Petersburg. 727.851.6767

Under The Bed @ Artful Living

Last Friday, Artful Living held its "Under the Bed" opening. The Halloween-themed show was curated solely by St. Peterburg photographer Missy Roll.

Shadoe McKee's "Nowhere to Go", an airbrushed acrylic painting of a screaming child holding up a hand in which there us a wooden door, slightly ajar, with gold light leaking through the edges was laced with sentimentality and lots of drama.

In "The Watchers", by St Petersburg photographer Nikki Devereux, a young woman in what seems to be a white nightgown, sits next to a wall with lighter and darker beams emanating from the figure. On the wall are several eyes watching her, and just above her head, a pair of closed eyes. A very dreamy yet somewhat paranoid image. It is an acrylic gel transfer on birch, a process I want to know more about.

A somewhat creepy bride [Link] in her gown and a classic studio pose with an intense and emotionless gaze looks out at the viewer. This graphic image has been clearly worked over digitally, with harder contrasts, bright pinks and rich textures. The bride reminds me of a sculpture of a bride I saw in a Taos museum, a bulto of a shell-shocked bride. Mr. Thomas' is up to date, and similarly shocked-looking. The title, "Reanimated Passion" makes us wonder what needs re-animation in a bride. 

Geff Bartrand's (aka Dr. Twisted) "The Toys Have turned" is not the kind of Toy Story we're used to seeing. It's a not-too-scary and humorous look at toys-turned-monsters when left alone, their Shadow-side emerging.

Maryanne Wysocki's "Scary Shrine Circus Clown" is a beautifully colored mixed media piece of a little girl on her bed, and a malevolent clown lurking below.

Monsters play when reason sleeps, and not all of them under the bed. Some haven't come out of the closet yet. "Closet Monster", by Patricia Warren is understated, compared to most works in this show. Only the tips of the monster's shoes are visible from the closet's open door, inspiring dread in a "Blair Witch" kind of way.. What we can see of the room looks creepily gritty.

The ubiquitous Frank Strunk III's "Jimmy" consists of a child's mannequin astride a tricycle, with a light fixture coming out of its left arm, and shining a bulb right by his face, which he is reaching for with his right hand.His legs are also dangling by the same kind of gooseneck tubing the light is held by. Elsewhere, Frank has claimed that this construction has moved around on its own!

Putting together things like a Halloween-themed show is risky business, but Missy has brought together a number of works that explore not so much the holiday as the shadowy things that lie below the veneer of reason.

--- Luis

"Under the Bed" can be seen at Artful Living, 1101 First Ave. St Petersburg. No closing date given.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This Weekend: November 5th - 7th

Ybor Jazz Fest - The First Ybor Jazz Fest. Lots of musicians, like Al Downing Jazz Association, Philip Booth's Vibe, Jim Morey Band, Denise Moore and Then Some, Impromptu!, Helios Jazz Orchestra, Kevin Mahogany & Confluences, and more. All at HCC's College Ybor Campus Mainstage Theater and Studio Theater Ybor City, Tampa.
Through Sunday, Nov. 7th. For prices & to see who is playing, call 813.259.6590.

Dunedin Art Harvest - High quality outdoor art festival in a beautiful setting. Dunedin's Highlander Park. Saturday Nov. 6th and Sunday, Nov 7th. 10 AM - 5 PM. Parking $3-$5. No pets.

Digi-Fab Arhitectural Design @ USF - Master's candidates show their architectural designs. Opening Friday, Nov 5th, Free (USF Parking is $5), at Centre Gallery, 4202 E. Fowler Ave, MSC 700, Tampa. 813.974.5464. Through Nov. 12th.

First Friday Art Walk @ Gulfport - A nice way to spend an evening in the sleepy burgh of Gulfport, home to many of the area's best artists, enjoying arts, music, food and more. Free. 727.322.5217

Intermitent Dreams @ West Tampa Center for The Arts - USF students sell large drawings for $25/ea. with proceeds going to this art center. Music by Robb Fladrym appetizers, etc. Recommended $5 donation. West Tampa Center for The Arts, Gallery 209, 1906 N. Armenia Ave. Tampa. 813.453.4381

Small Works @ Clayton Galleries - The small works in many media by 27 gallery artists. Opens Friday, Nov. 6th at 7 PM. 4105 S Mac Dill Ave Tampa.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This Weekend: Oct 29th - Oct 31st

Point-and-Shoot Yourself @ Pale Horse - Participate by becoming part of the exhibit at Pale Horse Design by posing with scary figures and joining in the show. Artists Aziritt, Casy Paquet, Chase Donald, Allen Leper Hampton and Chris Parks have pooled their talents for an unusual event. Self-portraits, pictures of a road trip, and more.

Saturday, Oct 30th, 7 PM - 11 PM. Pale Horse Gallery, 611 Central Ave, St Pete, Free. 727.823.6702

[I am going to be unable to attend this event and others due to a prior party commitment and need someone going there to volunteer to guest blog it. You will get credit. If interested, please let me know (and send me your email address, please) ASAP]


Glow Show @ Blue Lucy - Glowing work by Chad Mize and Philip Clark.

Oct 30th, 7PM - 11PM 653 Central Avenue St. Petersburg. Costumes welcome. Free.


Pipe Dreams @ Collective Gallery - Glass "tobacco-only" pipes show. Glass blowing exhibition.

Saturday, Oct 30th, Collective Gallery, 601 Central Ave. St Petersburg. 727.851.6767 Free.


Under The Bed @ Artful Living - Find out what lies down there among the dust bunnies and missing undies.

Friday, Oct Artful Living, 1100 1st Ave N.  St Petersburg. Free.  727.827.1888


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2011 TED Prize goes to Guerrilla Artist J R

His work is illegal. The street is his canvas, but he is a photographer guerrilla artist. He is fiercely independent and has no sponsors. His helpers are all volunteers, and he is the 2011 winner of the TED Prize.

"I see that joy is coming to the world"

                           --- One of J R's subjects upon seeing the completed work.

The TED conference and lectures announced last week its $100,000 USD prize for 2011 will go to the French Guerrilla Street Photographer J R, whose work consists of installations of very large prints of portraits taken of people living in impoverished communities en situ.

J R, who first photographed graffiti artists in France, held that fire and  has worked in Kenya, where he showed the faces of the poor using as a canvas the places where they live. He's done the same in the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Joined Israeli and Palestinian faces on the Wall. He remains anonymous because, as he's said: “I’ve been arrested, deported and that’s why I stay anonymous behind my initials. For me the action needs to be illegal”.

You can see a documentary about him at work in Kenya here

The winner gets to "make a wish" and devote the money to a humanitarian project, which usually end up eliciting other donations from TED's sponsors and supporters.

Bravo to J R for his work and the courage it has taken to make it happen, and Bravo to TED for this year's choice.

--- Luis

PS. J R is currently working in Shanghai, putting up pictures of people living in neighborhoods about to be torn down to make way for the current prosperity there.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two American Impressionist Shows: A Golden Opportunity.

According to surveys, Impressionism is the favorite art movement of  80% of American museum-goers. Coincidentally, we have two shows of American Impressionists, one on either side of the Bay. The Tampa Museum (TMA) has "American Impressionists In The Garden", The Museum of Fine Arts in St Pete (MFA) has "American Impressionists".

The name of the movement comes from a particular painting by Claude Monet titled "Impression, Soleil Levant" (Impression Sunrise) from 1872. See hereFor a little background on the movement, click here. From painting, it spread into sculpture and literature. In part, it was a reaction against the art of the day and to the then-infant juggernaut of photography.

After the Civil War, wealthy Americans, including many who had made fortunes from the conflict, traveled to Europe and returned with the requisite signifiers of European Art and sophistication. They encountered Impressionism and reacted with the same disgust the European establishment did. Eventually American painter Mary Cassat went to Europe, recognized its value, was accepted into the ranks, and the rest is history.

The show at the St. Pete Museum of Fine Arts is about an earlier part of the movement, when Impresionists were painting plein air in the wilderness, or more to the point, on the edge of it. One can see signs of man creeping into the landscapes shown. There's a number of works by the Taos painters well worth seeing. That show has only one or two paintings of gardens.

It is at this junction in time that you can cross the Bay and go to the Tampa Museum and see what happened next: American Impressionists in the Garden.

A rare and wonderful opportunity to see a wide range of American Impresionists over a good span of time.

Perhaps one reason why the Impressionist style is so popular is that neuroscientists have discovered that fuzzy images not only require more processing for the eye to interpret, but they take a different neural path, initially sending the signal into the amygdala and the lower brain, directly into the seat of the emotions. 

This pair of shows is best seen sequentially, on the same day, or a day apart. Tampa Museum,
Museum hours: Mon, Tues, Wed, and Fri from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Thurs from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; and Sat and Sun from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Museum location: The new Tampa Museum of Art is located in downtown Tampa on the Hillsborough river at 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza.

Museum of Fine Arts, Last entry admission sold 45 minutes prior to Museum closing
Tuesday through Saturday - 10am to 5pm
Sunday - 1pm to 5pm
Monday - CLOSED

255 Beach Dr. N.E.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

 --- Luis

This Weekend, Oct 22nd - 24th

Spoken Word/Open Mic @ Cafe Bohemia and Cafe Hey - Cafe Bohemia's laid-back open mic night is Thursday, Oct 21st, at 937 Central Ave, St Petersburg Starts around 8-8:30. Cafe Hey also has its open Mic Thursday,Oct 21st, and it is quite a spirited group. Starts at 7PM goes to 9PM at Cafe Hey, 1540 N. Franklin (just on the N. side of the interstate) Tampa.


Art After Dark @ Tampa Museum - This is one of Tampa's great mixers/Art parties, and this one is titled "Dios Mio" (My God) themed around El Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). There will be salsa music, ofrendas, a community altar, parade, giant puppets and more.

8 PM Friday, Oct 22nd, Tampa Museum, 120 Gasparilla Drive, Tampa. $10 for non-members, free for museum members.


Body Cavity @ Centre Gallery - Paintings by Kallie LaFave and Heather Mahoney, on the female body.

Opening reception Friday Oct 22nd, 7-9 PM @ Phyllis P. Marshall Center, USF Tampa. 4202 Fowler Ave. 813.974.5464. Parking is $5. Runs through Oct 29.


Members Show @ Salt Creek Artworks - The many talented members of Salt Creek Artworks, hopefully including our own Louis Girard, will be exhibiting  at this vast space.

Exhibit runs from Friday Oct 22nd to Nov. 13th. 1600 4th St. South, St Petersburg. 727.894.2653


Faculty Show @ Scarfone/Martley Gallery - 30 major works by UT faculty in several media.
Opening reception Fri, Oct 22, 7-9 PM. R.K. Bailey Art Studios, University of Tampa, 310 N. Boulevard, Tampa.


Upcycle Art Series I @ Singing Stone Gallery - Solo show by Leigh Robinson. Opening on Sat, Oct 23rd, 10 AM-2PM 1903 N 19th St. Tampa.


 St Pete Festival of Reading - Plenty of authors, readings, and much more. Saturday, Oct 23rd, USF ST Petersburg Campus. Free.


Cuban Artist Ernesto Piloto @ Ybor HCC Art Gallery - Mixed media drawings. Gallery at Corner of Palm Ave. & Republica de Cuba (AKA 14th st) Ybor City, Tampa.Hrs 10AM-4PM Mon & Wed-Friday. 12 noon - 7PM on Tuesdays.


Clay Games IV - Clay potters compete to be crowned "Clay Champion of the World" (no less). Sunday at high noon. Free Craftsman House, 2955 Central Ave St. Pete.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Imperial Tectonics: Transformations I & II @ Mindy Solomon Gallery and The Morean Arts Center. Part III.

Transformations I consists of work by Theo Wujcik and Wanxin Zhang at the Morean Arts Center on the same complex theme as that previously addressed hanging in the Mindy Solomon Gallery in Parts I & II.

The first thing that strikes the viewer of the Transformations I at the Morean Arts Center is how well this show is curated by Mindy Solomon. The sequencing and spacing of the works is first-rate -- and major-museum quality.  Having the extra floorspace to work with gave her a chance to show her considerable creativity.

Theo Wujcik's "Imperial Jade Quarter Pounder With Cheese", seen here. It's the all-too-familiar greasy burger US icon, appropriated and transformed by depicting it in Imperial Jade, a mineral that is or was more prized than gold in China. This is fusion between Chinese and US icons -- and values. Wujcik's work incisively explores the fault lines of art between these two Empires on many levels. He talks about a shift from NYC to Shanghai, China as the arts capital of the world.

Theo mentions an essay by Richard Vine, the Asian editor for Art in America, who has been writing about Chinese art for over a decade, illuminating Western arts consciousness via his articles and reviews. Rather than focus continually on some of the significant problems in the Chinese art scene, like lack of infrastructure in a fast-growing economy, and that galleries pay writers to write positive articles on their artists, Vine has emphasized the art and artists there.

Theo does too, in this show with portraits of Zhang Huan and Cai Cuo Qiang. This is something Theo has done before in one of his earliest series, "Mentors" (referenced in this article in Part I) and "Breaking with the Past" (2004) series. There are three portraits of iconic Chinese artist  Zhang Huan in this show. One of them is "Berlin Buddha", a large painting, referring to an aluminum mold/sculpture in which the figure of the Buddha is dry-cast using ashes. In the installation, the two are placed facing each other. See here. The ashen one quickly erodes away, while the metal mold remains unchanged. Theo shows the ashen Buddha eroded, and Zhang's head is to the viewer's left, looking out the 4th wall. There is another painting of  Mr. Huan, a portrait of his head titled "Zhang Huan 2010", in which he looks a little monk-ish. The third, is from a performance piece where Mr. Huan wore a (real) meat suit, and looking like a grotesque super-hero, ran down the streets of Manhattan, ending the performance by releasing white doves. Symbols of spiritual and physical strength? Theo emphasizes the superhuman aspects (brings to mind the inverse of a lucha libre wrestler) through a comic-book aesthetic. There is a very personal painting in this show titled "Artist/Artist's studio" of tendrils of smoke coming from a lit cigarette.

Wanxin Zhang has several clay sculptures in this show. One is titked "Wind Mark (Masked Man)" in which one of his warriors wears a jacket and a scarf (?) and what looks like striped prison pants. There is a disembodied ghostly white hand over the statue's head, on his right side, and it has placed an amorphous white mask over his face. Whiteface in a new context? Cultural identity pressure?

"Poet of the Battlefield" is a bespectacled warrior, this one in an peachy-orange glaze, head tilted back, mouth open, as if reciting a poem, his hands clasped around his abdomen, wearing a tie over his armor.

Wanxin has a clear self-portrait here. He is wearing a denim jacket on the back of which it reads in orange-red: "California Artist Too".

Identity, humans and art caught in the tectonics of empires and ensuing cultural diffusion. The exchanges between East and West are generating a fusion of styles and aesthetics.

  New York or Shanghai? Zhang Huan isn't waiting, he has a studio in each city.

Congratulations to Mindy Solomon and the Morean for a memorable collaboration on this show (or shows).

--- Luis

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Imperial Tectonics: Transformations I & II @ Mindy Solomon Gallery and The Morean Arts Center. Part I (of Three).

On Sept 4th, 476, Germanic tribes toppled the Roman Empire. They conquered the weakened prize, beating the once-greatest army in the Western World. They did not simply impose their culture on the Romans, but mostly adopted the language, laws, garb, and technology of the people they defeated. Defeat in the material sense doesn't always result in the culture of the defeated vanishing or being superseded. 

The cultural tectonics of clashing empires have complex, interleaving dynamics. This is happening today as the Chinese, whose communist government is keeping American capitalism afloat, economically colonize the US. This is one of the central themes of Transformation II at the Mindy Solomon Gallery (MSG), and its accompanying show, Transformation I, also curated by Ms. Solomon, at the Morean Arts Center. They're close enough that they could be considered aspects of a binary show.

Theo Wujcik is an influential artist and local legend who has consistently grown and evolved during his four decade-long career. He was a Master Printer at Tamarind, Detroit Lithography Workshop, became shop manager for USF's Graphicstudio, then a professor there. Portraits of artists he admired done in silverpoint, which is an exacting technique, brought him national attention. Some can be seen here and here. In 1979, after a divorce and immersion in the local punk culture, he co-founded Mododado with several local artists, which  used painted constructions of found objects, often combined with performance art. This lasted a few years, after which, inspired by the ubiquitous chain-link fencing found in the area at the time, in 1984 Theo incorporated this into a seminal painting called Tampa Tornado that would prove to be the first of many with this motif. There were paintings influenced by Art History, a later return to the chainlink style, personal and contemporary themes, like global warming. which can be seen here. Theo told me he began the Asian Invasion series, which comprises most of his work shown in Transformations I&II  about two years ago. 

In the show at the MSG, there are three paintings with circles and abstractions within their circumference. Two are singlets, one, titled Chinese Love Poem is a double set. See it here. Theo told me he was getting ready to paint, looked down into the open cans of paint and saw figures in the paint. This is remarkable. It reminds me of Michaelangelo saying: "I saw the angel in the marble".

There is a method of divination called scrying, in which one 'sees' by looking into different media, including liquids. The Chinese practiced this by looking into round crystal balls.

There's another painting in the MSG, along the wall opposite the windows facing the street [name?]. It is one of those non-hierarchical space pieces of Theo's that has the overall shape of a figure in stacked compositional elements. There's a large hand reaching in from the bottom, grabbing the figure by the genital area. A wry comment on the position Americans find themselves with China?

The First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang (259-210BC) defeated all the feudal kingdoms, fusing them into a unified China. He also built the Great Wall of China, burned books, and once buried alive an army of 460 scholars whose crime it was to have owned forbidden books. Qin spent much time and money seeking immortality, unintentionally settling Japan, but he hedged his bets by building a city-sized mausoleum, still largely unexcavated to this day, complete with representations of heaven and earth, 100 rivers filled with mercury, and to protect it all, 8,000 slightly larger than life-size soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, all in ceramic, constructed modularly, with individual facial features. See here.

Wanxin Zhang had already graduated from the Art School in Jilin, in China when he first saw the terra cotta army en situ, in 1983. There were four pits excavated at the time, and he titled his recontextualization of these figures "Pit #5", giving his work its own sense of identity. In 1992, Wanxin and his family migrated to San Francisco. There he studied with Peter Voulkos, who along with James Melchert, and Harold Paris sparked Funk Art. This art movement is characterized by its concerns for social responsibility via bringing together of disparate elements, conffrontationally, often with humor and irony.

There are four Warriors facing the windows at the MSG. See here. Starting from the viewer's left, is "Wintergreen", a warrior who is also a seasoned traveler, complete with his backpack and bedroll on top. He is at ease, and brings back the boon learned on his journeys. If you look closely (bring the reading glasses) it is written all over him.  Next to him stands "Fatherhood", a warrior carrying a Mickey-Mouse ear-wearing baby on his chest. To his left is "Expert", a learned man, intensely focused. At the end is a Warrior titled "Trinoculars", wearing binoculars with a third lens, perhaps for the Third Eye? Is this the Wise Man?

There are also smaller versions of these soldiers. One that caught my eye was that of Mao, holding a Chinese Red baby up towards heaven.

Wanxin has brought out the warriors into the present and the rigors of peacetime and living a fully human life in today's world. The effect is that of a dual typology, of simultaneously seeing the juxtaposition of the militaristic rigidity of the originals with the complex and fluid dynamics of living in the present.

--- Luis

PS. Last, but not least, Art Taco would like to wish the Mindy Solomon Gallery a very Happy First Birthday.  Wishing you many more and may all your birthday wishes come true.  It's been a stellar year.