Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Photo Explosion II @ Artpool

There are over 150 photographs on display in the Photo Explosion II at the Artpool artist's co-op. In this multiple-use, well-maximized space, they're packed close to each other, but viewers can still get a good feel for each photographer's style.

A few highlights: Phillip Faith's studio portraiture of tribal subjects. Bob Pomeroy's figure studies on aluminum, which have an unusual, polished look. Clinton Lee Brentwood's small figurines on a naked woman's body-landscape. The composite overlays of different exposures by Shannon Buchanan were ethereal and ghostlike, but could have used a little backlighting. Satan contemplating a fire (in color) and other well-done male B&W nudes by Danny K. Bethany Bodenhamer's image of a pool bathed in golden light and a skateboarder's shadow across it  was a simple and lyrically beautiful picture. Jason Jackowski's tiny, jewel-like print of a tree also stood out.

Artpool is an artist's co-op owned and operated by Marina Williams, who is a well-schooled artist-photographer, and reminds me of a local reincarnation of P.T. Barnum in the way she energizes her shows and puts on her famous parties. Marina's Mum and BF also work the co-op.

--- Malcolm

ArtPool, 919 First Ave N., St. Petersburg    The next show at ArtPool will be "UR Toy Story' and will be an International Mail Art Show and Fluxus Performance Party (bring your Mommy and Dada). The opening celebration will be on Saturday, September 11, 7 pm.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rite of Passage: Hot Summer Show at Clayton Galleries

There's a generation of Tampa's top artistic talent that's now at, or nearing retirement age. For many, but not all of them, their careers and/or lives threaded through USF, though some are autodidacts. This show brings several of Tampa's best and brightest baby-boomer generation artists and their latest works together at Clayton Galleries through September 18th. Cathleen Clayton, a USF graduate, opened the gallery twenty-three years ago, which quickly established itself as a premier fine-artspace in South Tampa. The artists in the show are represented by Clayton Galleries.

Jeffrey Kronsnoble's  densely packed "Cinque Terre Graffiti", a bewilderingly complex yet remarkably coherent painting from a european trip, is almost a seamless diptych.

Roberta Schofield shifts gears from her dreamy De Chirico-esque paintings into digital photography, with a large print of a sculpture of a bull's head,  along with the reflections of two people viewing the sculpture reflected from the (plexi?)glass case. The print is so big that the picture deconstructs into artifacts, colors blocks, and becomes quite graphic, much less photographic.

There's a Bruce Marsh of a Floridian river, and one from an American Western desert. Water, something he does exquisitely well, or no water, Marsh's distinctive genius for landscape shines through. 

The list of artists in this show reads like a who's who of Tampa boomer gen artists, too many to begin to do justice to in this space. This show is an excellent chance to see the work of some of the best artists in Tampa (though at least one has moved on but still visits) and most of all, a brief course in Art history. Our Art history.

  "Hot Summer Show", through Sept 21, at Clayton Galleries, Tuesday - Friday: 10am to 5pm
Saturday: 11am to 4pm. 4105 South MacDill Ave. Tampa. 813.831.3753

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This Weekend: August 27-29

Colloquium - Panel discussion with artist Carlos Gairacoa, who focuses on the contemporary city.

Reception at 7:00 PM Friday, August 27th, @ USF's Contemporary Arts Museum, 3821 Holly Drive, Tampa. 813.974.2849 usfcam.usf.edu

An Artist's Convergence, @ Vitale Studios - Two artists, Josha T. Pearson and Tim Jaeger are featured. Opening reception on Saturday, August 28th.

Vitale Art Studio, 651 Central Ave. St. Petersburg. 727.520.0969 /  vitalestudio.com Closing date unspecified. Free.

Curator Jennifer Hardin Talk at the Museum of Fine Arts on American Impressionism - Chief Curator Hardin gives a talk on the works in the Museum's new show: Transcending Vision: American Impressionism, 1870-1940.

Saturday @ 3:00 PM, 255 Beach Drive NE, St Pete. 727.896.2667 Through January 9th, 2011.

Member's Show @ Florida Museum of Photographic Arts - Their Annual Members' Show, with 146 photographs.

Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, 200 N. Tampa St., 813.221.2222.  Through Sept 4. fmopa.org  $4 admission.

Art & The Urban Body @ Urban Body - Local art and fashion.

Reception today, Thursday, August 26th, begins at 6:00 PM. Urban Body, 715 S. Howard Ave. Suite 100, Tampa. 813.251.5522  urbanbody.com  Free.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Very Spatial Show: Art Space @ Mindy Solomon Gallery

Space is defined as:  "the unlimited expanse in which everything is located". We have outer space, inner space, rent-free head space, personal space, musical space,  Hilbert space, storage space, topological space, uniform space, convergence space, interstitial space, learning space,  boundless space, defined space, architectural space, public and private space, and let's not forget web space. We've all been spacy,  known space cadets, been to the top of the Space Needle, used space heaters and played Space Invaders. A space monkey is slang for an addict, space suit for a condom, space cake for pot baked goods, space rape for invading someone else's space, space goo, the mysterious black stuff that sticks to one's shoes and cuffs of long pants from the floors of South Beach clubs.

We also have Art Spaces, the theme for the current show at the Mindy Solomon Gallery, which opened to an enthusiastic full house on August 21st.

An Art Space can be a synonym for a gallery and/or museum, but here it refers to the dialogue between art and space, both within the bounds of the art itself, and without, between the art and the space it occupies en situ, wherever it is displayed. Space in art can be divided into positive space, a space occupied by something, and negative space, unoccupied or "empty" space. One defines the other, and between the two, often create tension between elements within (and outside) the work.

There were a few pottery pieces in the show by Minkyu Lee. White bowls, one aptly titled Hidden Structure revealed #10. From a distance of a few feet, it looks like a beautiful formalist glazed ceramic bowl. Get closer, and one discovers this piece has its own distinct public/outer and private/inner space. The inside of the bowl is inscribed with a geometric pattern of squares reminiscent of the Fibbonaci series, but I don't think it is. The pattern itself is a succession of positive and negative spaces. Minkyu has worked in ceramics and porcelain, extensively exploring color, texture and geometric patterns in his works.

The context of furniture is living spaces, where it dialogues with the architecture, interiors, and the people who occupy those spaces, be they a reception room in an office building, or in a home, extending out into lounge and pool areas. Custom art furniture takes a room from the generic to the specific. This is custom furniture designed for a specific space. It redefines the space and its inhabitants, transcending genre and fusing utilitarianism and art. Jo Milic is an architect and furniture designer, with his own company, Mesh.  His work at this show consisted of several custom-designed/built pieces, all with strong iron bases, often with right angles, echoing the form of the rest of the piece. The welds are smoothed out, giving the impression of a monolithic, solid, geometric form for the legs and concealing the technical ontogeny of its creation. This gives the wood or bamboo parts of the tables/chairs which are seamlessly integrated into the design, an airy, floating look. In Mesh Table  this can be clearly seen in the interplay between the wooden tabletop and the rectangular legs.

 Raymond Gonzalez has a deep, sonorous voice, the kind that carries across a room authoritatively - sans microphone - and many politicians and most preachers would love to have. In his bio, he gives us a two-generation account of his family history. When Raymond talked about his art on opening night for this show, he spoke of his interest in his parent's time, specifically 50's culture. Part of his ancestry is Mexican. In Spanish, all words are gendered. He spoke of how this terminology is also in the English language and commonly used in fittings. Raymond  brings this into his sculptures in this series, collectively titled Fetish, many of which are clearly male or female by their sex "fittings". Some appear to be hermaphroditic, like this. Others wear coverings laced up like footballs (technically, it could be said they're "flashing"). Some are duets, others singlets.

The thought ocurred to try a little sculptural husbandry and try to 'mate' two just to see if they could, but we decided that perhaps that's what they do when the lights are out -- and they have a little privacy. These endearing, brightly colored, part glazed ceramic, rubber grommets, flocking, rhinestones, and, notably, automotive urethane pieces are like a fusion of many styles, ideas and concepts from the era Gonzalez focuses on. Look into one and there's traces of automobile designs, the influence of space, in rocket-like forms (and some reminiscent of Sputnik as well) motel signs and more. This is art that not only exists in the space it occupies, but historical space as well.

David Hicks sees agricultural cycles as an analog to our own lives. The cycles of conception, development, expression, reproduction, fruition, decline, death and transformation inform him and he uses them to inform our lives through his work in an ur-language he refers to as composed of  "origin, form and beauty". The first thing I noticed about Hicks' work is that there are two types. One is in hanging forms that bring to mind fruit, gourds, clusters of outsized grapes and other forms, ripe and heavy. The other are truncated, complex ceramic matrices inspired by pulled tree stumps. The hanging work is in a plurality of varied forms, hung from a bar or plate bolted into the wall. These are raw, sensuous, luscious primal forms that speak to us of life-sustaining food, accomplishment, the apex of a life cycle, sex and the next generation. They suggest their own inner space and ours. These works inspired one viewer on opening night to openly ask David if he would be OK with her rearranging the sequencing of the individual hanging pieces. He smiled & replied that once it's in your house, you can do what you want with it. A testament to the accessibility and playful nature of his work.

The tree-stump works are more abstracted, in layers of partly colored terracotta matrices. Like the other Hicks works in this show, they dialog with their analogs, but are far from literal representations. The stumps are externally simple forms, and internally complex ones. We can see into them, easily losing ourselves in their matrices and in the interstitial spaces between them.  Their "surface" is conceptual. We supply it, the work only implies it, thus engaging the viewer into participation in the ideation of the piece. I asked David if he tended to work on one type or the other at one time. He smiled and replied that he always has at least one of each work in process.  

Every artist speaks to his viewers in a vernacular visual language, while simultaneously transcending it, making it his own. Cosme Herrera openly states this personal/universal, visual and philosophical language to be one of his goals. Many of his works in this show are from a series called New Forests . The works are made with wood grain vinyl on polypropylene paper. While they may seem like artificial landscapes, all of these works originate from specific locations, to the point of being geotagged. They are initially drawn, then worked over in photoshop before assuming their final form. Perhaps this is why he refers to them as binary landscapes, though that could also refer to their being part of a duet, one the original landscape, and the created alternative one. These are complex landscapes addressing many things, including the interaction of man and nature, specially in parks. Cosme and I spoke for a while at the show's opening. He sees the landscape as narrative (many of the world's indigenous people do), and man in dialogue with it. Some elements in his work are elegiac, for vanished trees. The odd trellis-like forms on tripod legs as seen here, are, in part, a kind of talismanic device for missing trees. Many of the iconic walls are boundaries of sorts, edges and perhaps, symbols of man. The effect of the whited-out sections reminded me of wintry landscapes, and serve to recontextualize and emphasize the trees and other forms that are left. Cosme has also done geo-installations, and if a grant comes through, he wants to design a small park-sized area.

Mindy Solomon's Art Space show opened August 21st, and closes on Sept 25th. See it at 124 2nd Ave. NE St Petersburg, Wed-Sat, 11am to 5pm. The gallery will be closed from Sept 1st to Sept 7th, for Art San Diego. mindysolomon.com

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Art: It's Not A Spectator Sport.

The very word "collecting", while perfectly legitimate and a very significant part of the art world, can also be unintentionally intimidating, and drive a conceptual wedge between newbies and art. There's great joy, much to be learned and shared through amassing an art collection, whether extraordinary or humble. Not everyone is at a point in their lives where they can afford expensive pieces on a regular basis, or have the room for them. Nor is everyone ready to commit to building a collection and/or investing the time and effort to do so. Don't let this keep you from owning art.

Where to start? Begin with something that you are already like and are familiar with, or be daring and let yourself be surprised. Realize that this doesn't mean you're committing to building a collection, or anything you don't feel like doing at this time. You're just buying one work of art.

Keep it simple: Buy something that connects with you and vice versa. Keep in mind that art moves into your house or workspace, like a new roommate, so choose with a long view. Set aside a sensible amount of money in concert with your economic station in life, as your budget, and make the rounds as you probably have been, except now the possibility of taking something home with you will change how you view art, because you are participating. If your budget is low, look for smaller works, and be sure to look through the cafes listed here, but some of the major galleries ocassionally have some inexpensive work. Ask questions about the work, go to the artists' websites or Facebook page and learn about them, their philosophy and what else they've done. Don't hesitate to email them if you want to. Attend the opening or closing reception and talk with them. No matter where you make your selection or what you spend, the thrill of adopting a work, moving it into your home & living with it, interacting on a daily basis, is at the very core of the art experience.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What's This? A Little Terminology: Art Venues

A lot of people have a nebulous understanding of the different types of venues art is shown in.
The simplest way to think of this is:

Museums, like the Dali or Museum of Fine Arts, show work, either from their permanent collection, which they own, or a visiting exhibit, which someone else owns. These works are not for sale, and Museums charge admission for the public to see them in order to stay in business, and have gift shops, restaurants or cafes as well for other revenue streams.

Galleries, like Mindy Solomon or C. Emerson, show work from a multitude of carefully vetted artists, in conjunction with a theme, some of which they may represent. Representation means the gallery acts as an agent in the promotion and sale of the work within certain contractual limits. All the art in a gallery is usually for sale, and the gallery gets a commission from that, which is how they stay in business. Galleries sell the art, but normally do not charge admission for people to see it.

Co-ops, like Tampa Artits's Emporium or Artpool charge the artists rent for the space their work takes up, and often also take commissions when the art is sold. The artists are not nearly (if at all) as stringently vetted as they are at the galleries. Paying rent is the main qualifier. Co-ops frequently have parties, which also bring in income. Some, but not all, charge admission. While they have openings, and sometimes bring in new artists and themes, one sees mainly the same artists there.

Cafes & Others -  Cafes, like The Globe, Kahwa, Or Bohemia operate a lot like galleries. Since art sales are not crucial to the financial well-being of the operation, arrangements often vary.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

This Weekend: August 20-22

"Art Spaces" at Mindy Solomon Gallery - A theme expressed through a variety of artists and media. One of the great things this gallery does is bring the artists to the viewers. Four artists will be there to talk about their work and answer questions from the public at the opening reception, Saturday, @ 6PM. Free. The show will run through Sept 25. Mindy Solomon Gallery, 124 Second Ave. North, St Petersburg. 727.502.0852

St. Petersburg Museum of History - "Bob Preston: A Life in Photographs/Patricia Preston Warren: I Am My Father's Daughter".
Opens Friday @ 6PM, runs through September. St Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Ave. NE, St Petersburg. 727.894.1052,  spmoh.org

JH Duffy & Jake Cline, Studio @ 620 - A two-man show, composed of "A Life in Progess", works by J.R. Duffy, and "Jake Cline: The Truth". Opening reception on Friday, Aug. 20th, at 6:30 PM, through Sept 4th. Studio @ 620, 620 1st Ave S. St. Petersburg. Free. 727.895.6620. the studio@620.org

Sarasota LGBT Film Festival - In its 12th year, great films shown in a classic movie theater.
 Saturday and Sunday 2-8 PM @ Burns Court Cinema, 506 Burns Lane, Sarasota. 941.955.3456

Hal Stowers at Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art - Florida landscape painter Hal Stowers is having a retrospective at the Museum. St Pete College Visual Arts Faculty is having a show there, too.
Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, 600 Klosterman Road, Tarpon Springs, inside the St Pete College campus. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday Saturday and Sunday. $5. Hours vary. Free docent tours begin @ 3:00 PM. For hours, check: spcollege.edu/central/museum or call: 727-712-5762  Through August 29th.

Clayton Galleries - Group show of the considerable talent this reputable and well-established gallery represents.
Clayton  Galleries, 4105 S. McDill Avenue, Tampa. Free. Begins Friday, Aug. 20th. No closing date given. Open 10 AM -5PM Tuesday through Friday. Saturday hours: 11AM - 4PM. claytongalleries.net

Art After Dark Island Party @ Tampa Museum - The monthly themed Tampa Museum party is having a Caribbean theme, with reggae music by local favorite Tribal Style. These parties have developed a great reputation as fun events and for meeting people.
Friday, at 8 PM. Tampa Museum, 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. Free for members, otherwise, $10 admission. 813.274.8130

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


[We have a guest correspondent for this review]

"Analog Existence", the current show, showcases artists Brad Kokay, Scott Hillis, Alexander Glueck, Reid Jenkins, Ricky Seelbach, Lauren Gentry and Chris and Susan Nadeau. 

 The term "analog", meaning "similar in appearance or function, though otherwise different" oftens is used to refer to pre-digital technology, but as presented by this group of artists working in a plurality of mediums and styles,  "Analog" is an unblinking commentary about an outmoded society.

  A first look at Ricky Seelbach and Lauren Gentry's work gives the impression of a medieval church replete with a crucifixion figure flanked by parables and saints on either side, dominated by red, green and gold. The centerpiece, Ricky Seelbach's "Atheist Scarecrow" seems to sacrifice indigenous belief systems for something iconic: The Saviour's face painted on a vinyl record (analog technology) rotating on a turntable at 33 1/3 RPM. The body has disintegrated into a cross of scrap wood, drip paint, and red thread. The hands imprinted on plexiglass are perhaps the handprints of the artist. 

To the left of this figure, Lauren Gentry's thoughtful and elaborate collage assemblage pieces present the viewer with some things you wouldn't  touch with a pair of tweezers, taking the viewer on a descent to Hell on one hand then hinting at a way out in the other. "Ratatat" parachutes you into a no pest-control Purgatory, while  "You can't be yourself unless you eat yourself" is the literal message in "It's Like Pulling Fucking Teeth", an outrageous sermon on the rebirth pains of self-transformation. Smaller works by both artists punctuate the remaining space.

The opposite wall is dominated by Brad Kokay's untitled black and white photocopy montages, large works that draw one into a world as refractory as diamonds and delicately intricate as coral, that borrows fluently from Nature, architecture, and anatomy, weaving them into visions of luminous morphing filigree that in terms of challenging perception and perspective put a film like "Inception" to shame. Using a presumably analog technology (most copiers are now digital) for an unintended use, Kokay effectively invents mesmerizing mindscapes that one can get lost in, blending classic references and symbols into a fascinating and sometimes disturbing universe with its own physics and logic.

Reid Jenkins, like Brad Kokay, had a one-man show a Cafe Bohemia in the past 12 months. His and Scott Hillis' sly, wry, sardonic musings are hung over a mural painted for the show.

Art is everywhere at Cafe Bohemia. Don't overlook the bathrooms! 

--- Lydia 

PS. Cafe Bohemia, a soul-quenching indie cafe and outdoor patio, gallery and hangout, hosts local artists, musicians, poets, comedians, at the Open Mike on Thursday, and movies on Wednesday nights. It consistently delivers healthy and delicious baked goods & sandwiches, along with coffee, beer, interesting patrons, crew led by Alex, and conversation. Cafe Bohemia is the dream child of Bonnie Neal, proprietor, Queen Mum, and artist in her own right. 

"Analog Existence opened August 31, and continues through the end of September.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Retrograde at Kahwa South

Retrograde: adj.  - "Opposite to the usual order; inverted or reversed."

This show's three photographers (or is it two photographers and one graphic artist?) all hail from the same stable: Vitale Art Studio. Johnny Vitale, proprietor, Bruce Stratton, whom I was told works there, and Rachel Doherty, whose internship at Vitale is soon coming to a close, from Columbia College in Chicago.

Rachel's works lean to the conceptual, as in "Now, In 3-D". In this B&W photograph we see the torso and legs of a woman sitting down, holding an empty (11x14?) frame with her right hand, just above her lap. Her left hand and bracelets reach through it, towards the viewer, almost as if to shake hands. The subframe, in effect, creates a secondary image within the main one, but also questions and attempts to revert and oppose photography's transformation of light echoing from an object/person/scene from a 3-D image into the familiar 2-D print. The flatness of the print is inverted. The works shown from Rachel were conceptual, witty, introspective scenes.

Bruce Stratton creatively framed his pictures vertically, as if being viewed in outsized iPhones (3Gs?). They look like they might have been taken with one. These pictures are deceptively casual-looking. We see signs of American Luminism (Eggleston, Meyerowitz, Greiner, et al.) in these pictures: The legacy of Atget through Walker Evans (via Berenice Abbott) in the signage and implied men at work. The accessories of urban workmen, like the dozens of orange dollies parked in front of what looks like a Home Depot, initially appear to be a giant merry-go-round, they end up being about more work than play. In another picture, we see what seem to be water, heating, or sewage pipes, idle, but in the process of being installed or maintained. In another, there is a view of a sign, looking up from the floor through the window of a work truck.

"Rained Out" shows a misty, rainy day, with a large banana leaf arcing from bottom-center to midline-left of the picture. Behind it, a driveway, with a workman's trailer parked. Lush lawns behind it and across the street. A ranch-style suburban house sprawls there. Is the workman rained out?

Johnny Vitale's works are composites of several pictures digitally collaged. There's a human figure and face in every image, lots of cultural signifiers, too: That familiar pyramid and the "Annuit Coeptus" on the dollar bill, a boom box, old Ford (I think) and checkered sneakers, for example. The faces in these images are not deadpan in the slightest. They grimace, perform, and stare at us. These are not postcards from Pleasant Valley.

In "New Rules", The figure of a young boy dressed in a (Halloween?) costume stands in the center of the frame, shown from his thighs-up. He looks terse and appears to be holding an XXL machete, which, perhaps coincidentally, is rather penile looking and at the right angle. Behind the boy is a yellow bus which Vitale has outfitted with mag wheels and low profile tires. Sandwiched in-between is a sideways picture of the fire escapes from a tenement building (?). Behind that a concrete wall with a spray-painted (house?) number. On the right edge of the picture, a chair on its side, in its own subframe. Before the boy, at waist-level, is a painted white rectangle, with drips. Behind the boy's head is another white painted rectangle, sans drips. The rectangles serve to add false dimensionality fore and aft, also placing visual torque, almost tilting the boy forwards, and resonating at 90 degrees from the picture plane. 

--- Luis

PS. "Retrograde", with 17 works from Rachel Doherty, Bruce Stratton and Johnny Vitale. Opened Sunday, August 15th. It is at the Kahwa Cafe, a beautiful, quiet place to read one's NYT or laptop, or bring a group of friends, and enjoy great coffee, cookies, etc., that in mid-afternoon looks more than a little Hopperesque. 204 2nd Ave, S., St Pete. 727.821.1942

Saturday, August 14, 2010

City of Lost Art, at Gemini Lounge.

 Nothing like a real, three-dimensional, 1969 Volkswagen Baja Bug covered in gray primer, parked on the sidewalk and being worked on, to draw attention to an art show in a lounge in the Rainbow District. The Gemini bar, to be specific, and the artist? Bluma Schlagentweit, who takes portraits of old VWs, dents and scars included, and combines them with hand-drawn elements.

City of Lost Art is the name of an artists' collective managed and promoted effectively by Chrystal Luna, with whom I spoke at the opening on August 13th. She explained that this is the first art show at the Gemini, although they had informally exhibited the work of two artists earlier. The show was commissioned by Art On Central (whom I couldn't find on the web).

Context is everything, and in this instance it should be considered that this space is hosting its first art show, through another gallery, of an artists' collective - without a theme.

From my notes: Todd Frain had several graphic, colorful pieces, notably "Random Bus Race", complete with what seemed to be Ben-Day dots. Vonn Riger's juxtaposing of cute furry animals and instruments of death and destruction, specially a sinister rabbit, titled "Eat Your Young". Mike Goodwine's pensive female figure titled "The Morning After". Ally Brightwell's humorous, light-hearted, spontaneous-feeling "Bad Hair" series about entropy and coiffures. Bean Apple's Dia De Los Muertos-themed "No Sleep For The Rested", and Van Beehner's pungent-colored, iconic graphic "Vespa".

   Congratulations to Chrystal Luna and the folks at Gemini Lounge, notably proprietors Angela Gross and Jodi Alphonso for a (re)commendable first effort, and for opening up their voluminous wall space to art.

--- Luis

Ps. The Gemini Lounge is a bar with a diverse clientele in the Rainbow District,  that opened in June 2009, at 2315 Central Ave.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This Weekend: August 13-15

Art Taco's Suggestions:

Retrograde at Kahwa I - Rachel Doherty, Bruce Stratton and Johnny Vitale, all from Vitale Art Studio, will be exhibiting work at the first Kahwa Cafe. Opens Sunday, August 15th, at 204 2nd Ave, S., St Pete. 727.821.1942

The City of Lost Art - Friday at the Gemini Lounge. Ten artists, one will be mechanicking on a car on site(!). 8 PM to 3 AM. Music by RJ282 and Tarot readings. Organized by Art On! Central. All at 2315 Central Ave. 727.327.8600

St. Petersburg Downtown Arts Walk - Saturday. Art Lofts, 10 Fifth St. N., 2nd floor of Florida Craftsmen Gallery is having open studios where one can meet the artists and attend the reception for The Four Elements, by Javier Dones. 5:30PM.

The Galleries on the 600 block of Central will be open. C.Emerson is extending her hours for the Gallery Walk and is at 909 Central. The Josh and Stuart Show III can be seen Saturday at the Globe Cafe at 532 1st Ave North. There's the still unreviewed group show at Cafe Bohemia, @ 937 Central. All free.

While at the 600 block galleries, cross Central and check out FUBAR and the Emerald Lounge.

The Wearable Fashion Show - Friday at the Dunedin Art Center, @ 1143 Michigan Blvd.Dunedin. Opens at 7 PM, Fashion show @ 9:00 PM, General Admission is $15. dfac.org. Did we mention Frank Strunk III will be showing his designs there?

Jack Barrett @ Donna Gordon Gallery - A posthumous show of Barrett's work at 625 Central Ave St Petersburg.

Artlink 2010 - A Creative Clay annual show of work done in teams of pros. Opens thursday at 6 PM. Closes on August 28th. At Florida International Museum @ St Pete College, 244 Second Ave N. St Pete.

Morean Featured Artist Gallery Sale - Neverne Covington's featured this month. Closes Aug 22nd. Opens Saturday, August 14th, @ 5:00 PM at 719 Central Ave. Free.

Photo Explosion II Party - Marina Williams stages a photography and fashion show/party/exhibit, and some photo-clothing (!) on Saturday, at 7 PM, @ Artpool, 919 First Ave N. St Petersburg. artpoolgallery.com  $10 advance, $15 at the door.
University of Tampa Fine Art Alumni Exhibition - 50 pieces in a multitude of media from alumni who turned pro. Through Sept 2. At UT Scarfone/Hartley Gallery in the BK Bailey Studios @ 310 North Blvd, Tampa. 813.253.6217

Florida Museum of Photographic Arts - Last chance to see The 10 Member's Show, through Saturday.
@200 N Tampa St. $4 admission.fmopa.org

Undressing The Feminine - Last chance to see this controversial legendary show. Through Sat, Aug 14th. Mindy Solomon Gallery @ 124 second Ave. NE, St Petersburg.


Photos Graphein: A group Exhibition, at Vitale Art Studio

Rachel Doherty is a photographer who normally works with a 4x5 view camera and film. She is here from Columbia College in Chicago, which has one of my favorite museums devoted to photography: The Museum of Contemporary Photography. Rachel curated the Photos Graphein group photography show at Vitale Art Studio. Rachel put together a good show, and a great effort for a first-time curator.

We were there on August seventh, on opening night. A few stand-outs from our notes: Roman Black's "Gretel Lied to Hansel", a humorous revisionist version of the fairy tale set in a mythical landscape, well-integrated with the implied narrative.  Joe Traina brought out some exquisitely printed, haunting, mysterious nudes posed in forest settings. Elizabeth Vanderhayden's colorful tattooed subjects on a dense black background. Heather Sweet's 'Dark Path', an intriguing, mostly monochromatic night time, available-light color photo. Jacqie Holder's facial close-ups. The girl with the lollipop, in particular. Stephanie Norcross' small near-abstract diptychs also caught our eye.  One large piece, or conglomerate of pieces, was over 90 Polaroid photos attached to narrow cork strips which rambled off into a figurative 'arms and legs'. It was an appropriately impromptu way to display Polaroid prints.

Kudos to Rachel for not requiring works to be framed, which usually entails great expense for the artist. Photos ranged from framed, to unframed, and unmounted, with some held only by butterfly clips.

--- Luis & Malcolm

Ps. Photos Graphein: A Group Exhibition opened on August Seventh, we do not have a closing date for this, but it should be running until maybe August 20th. Vitale At Studio, 651 Central Ave. St Petersburg, 727.520.0969

Heroworship: A Graphic Tale of Epic Proportions.

"Heroworship: A Graphic Tale of Epic Proportions.", opened August sixth at C. Emerson Gallery. This space was founded in 2006 by gallerina Lori Johns, who was immersed in the St Pete arts scene long before that.  She is a serene, laid-back, intensely observant person, passionate, daring and knowledgeable about art. Comitted to showing edgy, non-mainstream work, Lori is a veteran, survivor, and nothing if not a risk-taker.

Mankind's earliest written stories are about heroes: From Mesopotamia, The Epic of Gilgamesh, ca. 2500 B.C., From Greece, The Iliad and the Odyssey, ca 1200 B.C. and in English,  Beowulf, around 900 A.D. In these stories, and many more, the hero has his Shadow, sometimes personified. Gilgamesh has Enkidu, Odysseus has Achilles, etc.

This show brings us new conceptual ways of looking at Heroism and recontextualized ways to tell the Tale. The allusion to a Graphic Tale makes me wonder if Lori has put together a meta-Graphic, non-linear Novel (where the questions about Heroworship are common) of sorts here.

What are the Heroworship Graphic Tales the artists tell? Most are about dualities, how they create & support the field created between them. They are relational narratives. As the sage said, "All men may be islands, but beneath the waters, we are all connected."

Frank Strunk III's single work in the show, a series of vertical wood slats about an inch wide (and 2+ ft tall, spanning around three feet altogether), some of the slats are of different lengths vertically, and the tall ones are singed at the edges. It is easy to imagine the shortest route between two points in life as a straight line. In practice, the route rarely, if ever, works out in a straight line. Corrections have to be made, even on autopilot, -- and often. Strunk's work is partially a paean to his father, and his ability to take control as needed. There's a small cut-out frame within the slats and in it is a photograph of his father's strong and experienced hand.

Story-telling has a strong tradition in Louisiana, where Raina Benoit comes from (though she is well- traveled). She has developed a syntax of her own using the materials of art and the relationships between them. In her work in the show, as in "Neighbor", she deals with the everpresent tension between vegetation and the man-made environment in Florida.

Dirk Dzimirsky ("Black Noise") rejects the generic simulation of beauty we currently live under by showing us the signifiers that make us human, external and internal, skin and substance to essence: The human as living narrative.

Jay Hollick's humorous, self-referential, questioning of societal signifiers through form are simultaneously whimsical and serious explorations. See "Deconstructed Bicycle".

Richard Green's iconic heroes, depicted in near-abstract, bright colors, thread the edge and return to us. See "Alan Shepherd, and the Void"

I had the privilege of a long conversation with the affable Edward Lightner at the opening of the show. He is sensitive to the dualities of things like Nuclear weaponry and War: How the threat of Apocalypse has (so far) worked to prevent it from happening. MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) meant there would be no winners, no matter who fired first, and no one fired. In the drawings are labels from AIDS/HIV meds. He balances their beneficial effects with the brutal costs, and as with the Nukes, embraces and understands the complexities of what for many are knee-jerk reflex issues. Hero and Anti-Hero. Lightner's work consists of highly-detailed yet abstracted pen-and-ink drawings with very, very light, almost imperceptible, color washes.

"Fizeau Plumbbob 11kt #1"

In spite of their initial impression as pure abstractions, soon the feel of the familiar, our own history with the imagery of the nuclear age, bubbles up from our subconscious. We know this Epic Tale: It is part of us.

--- Luis

 Ps. Heroworship: A Graphic Tale of Epic Proportions. August 6 - September 18. 2010. at C. Emerson Gallery, 909 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 898-6068 or c-emersonfinearts.com. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday or by appointment.

  To learn more about Heroes, a good place to start is Joseph Campbell's book The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Identity Crises: A reaction to the oil spill.

 Artful Living, recently morphed from Simple Living (which focused mostly on decorative arts) is a combination frame shop, co-op, and as of lately, a gallery space.  Owner Rob Davidson does the framing. Melissa Van Der Laak and Missy Roll tend to everything else save for the custom giclee printing, which is done by photographer and accomplished printer Clint Thomas.

 The present show, Identity Crisis: A reaction to the oil spill, is their second. Curated by photographer Missy Roll, the show includes the work of seventeen artists in a variety of media, including a performance art piece shown at the opening/Artists's Reception held on August sixth.

 The oil spill has cast a long and largely invisible shadow over us. The furious volcanic  video of oil erupting from the broken pipe, horrible images of animals succumbing to the brown goo, ruined estuaries, people in hazmat suits, tar balls washing ashore and much more. But all of these things happened elsewhere. Calculated stonewalling and virulent disinformation on the part of those responsible, and inaction from the federal level have had the desired effect of keeping us in the dark, and relegating the spill to the realm of the mythological.

All we have are words, and contradictory ones, at that. The artist D.S. Frutko currently has a piece partially about keywords from the oil spill at Sebastian Thomas Gallery, at 635 Central Ave, St. Pete.

Our beaches still look the same, except perhaps for fewer tourists, as if nothing has happened. The oil spill lies beyond our senses. Like a shared nightmare, the spill has sunk into the lower levels of our minds, skulking like the huge oil plumes around the cold bottom of the Gulf, as it is in our psyches.

 In this show a disappointing number of works reacted to this complex, traumatizing issue in  a  reflexive manner. Some of these artists are people I know, whose work I am familiar with, but on this issue they suffered an identity crisis, de-individuated, and created weaker, more generic, sentimental work. Some of this was doubtlessly due to people cobbling up work to get into the show, but not all. What happened here? Responsibility ultimately rests on the curator, but why did so many artists bypass hard-earned artistic awareness and knowledge for a brick-bat, oil spill = 'bad' approach? 
At the base level, this is a deceptively facile issue for artists. Maybe too easy. At other levels, our fingerprints are on the knife. Would BP be sucking oil out of the ground a mile underwater if there wasn't market demand for it?

Nicole Desiree Hays, owner of Cirqueville Entertainment and performance artist, designed and staged a work consisting of five models dressed in black shorts or tankinis, smeared with something that looked like oil, in poses that made them look dead or dying. It was a moving conceptual tableaux, about how the oil has affected the beings it has touched physically, and us mentally and spiritually.

--- Luis

Ps. Identity Crisis: A Reaction to The Oil Spill can be seen at Artful Living, at 1100 1st Avenue North St Pete. 727.821.2266 No closing date was given.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Soul Duet: The Josh and Stu Show III

    Josh Sullivan and Stu Andrews collaborated on their first work of art in first grade in Michigan. Twenty-three years later and in St. Petersburg, they're still friends and artists, exhibiting together, currently at the Globe Coffee Lounge.

The Globe, owned and operated by JoEllen Schilke, AKA 'Queen of  Cakes' and her merry band of staffers, is not just a gallery, but a happening haven for poets, musicians, artists, and anyone looking for a laid-back welcoming environment, great coffee, music, food and most of all, people.    

 Stu used to do comics, and is now a portraitist. His work is portraiture of friends and commissions "being human". It's a graphic, yet realistic, Post-Pop style with a touch of American Regionalism. Casual, intimate and immediate, with slightly amplified/stylized gestures and large blocks of color.

   Josh Sullivan is a jovial, upbeat character, with a smile like a young Teddy Roosevelt. An incredibly prolific artist, who churns out many zines, drawings, and endless characters in angst-inducing, humorous and familiar absurd situations, projections of our real lives. The characters that populate his comics are frustrated, but their spirits are indomitable, no matter what the Dystopia deals out to them, or they are dystopiary. Josh's paintings are more graphic, influenced by movies and his comics. Some, like his road map, are nearly abstract. His painting of the Blob, a largely silhouetted dark figure towering over homes in the evening, under a starry sky and the whims of the crescent moon, evokes more nostalgia and empathy for the monster, who in spite of his size and XXL carnivore teeth, looks as confused and powerless as the rest of us.

Behind the Bubble-Wrap Curtain: Undressing the Feminine

  Like Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture in Millenium Park in Chicago, which was renamed by the public "The Bean", gallerina Mindy Solomon's Undressing the Feminine  may be remembered as the "Bubble Wrap Show". The gallery windows were lined with the packing material to protect the sensibilities of unsuspecting passers-by.

Knowledgeable, playful, and committed - collector, educator, curator, yearling gallery owner and arts agent provocateur, Mindy Solomon's show deconstructs, questions and encourages dialogue about gender and identity.

J.Aiden Simon addresses this issue from intimate personal experience as a transgendered individual. There are several self-portraits of Aiden, some taken when 14 yrs old - introspective, tense, exquisite small black and white prints. It is refreshing to see a small print nowadays. There are larger ones in color, fictional documentary images that look like stages in the gender transition, but aren't, deconstructing the process, and making referential commentary about the medium's perceived veracity.

 Becky Flander's large self-portraits, masked/anonymized, nude, holding her labia open, and uninating "like a man" while standing in sylvan cypress-swamp settings,  unsettled, if not shocked, some opening-night gallery goers, and I suspect are the main reason for the bubble wrap. It's not just the exposed genitalia, the signal orange masks or nudity. It's the shock of seeing a taken-for-granted gender signifier unmasked.

Sean Fader, educated as an actor, put this experience to good use, questioning gender, identity, and the relationship between portraiture and self-portraiture. He photographs people, both men and women he knows, though in this show only women are shown, in poses that have referents in art history, and nude. Then he assumes the same pose and having studied the subject, acts like them, and when the subject (and the word gets indistinct and mystifyingly fuzzy in these pictures) thinks he looks like them, a 2nd picture is made. Sean later digitally replaces the original subject's head with his, and emphasizes this by inserting a zipper along the seam. The old question about the portraits being about the photographer resonates in Sean's work.

  There are many other artists and media in this not-to-be-missed show. Misty Gamble's tense, yet whimsical gestural sculptures. Connie Imboden's haunting, lyrically beautiful inquiries into the human form. Anne Drew Potter, a poetess in body-language through her ceramic sculptures. Bonnie Seeman's richly textured and colored, rivetingly engaging, elegiac, organically frank pottery is a feast for the senses and effortlessly transcends its functional form. Last, but not least, Toni Billick's humorously raunchy Sheepy Gone Wild, which was hung in the bathroom, and the performance/character of Sheepy Bo Peep, who is simultaneously sheep and shepherdess, made a memorable appearance at the opening.

    Don't mistake the bubble wrap as insulation between this show and the community. It's more of a metaphor of the relationship between truths and their veils -- and fills the gallery with beautifully diffused light.

--- Luis

Ps.  Mindy Solomon's Undressing the Feminine show opened July 3rd, and closes in about a week, on August 14. See it at 124 2nd Ave. NE St Petersburg, Wed-Sat, 11am to 5pm.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Why this Blog?

  Why Art Taco? We've been attending many arts venues on both sides of the Bay for decades, know the artists, galleristas, curators, some collectors and many art connoisseurs and amateurs, and taken pictures of a scene we love and appreciate. This blog is our way of contributing to an already vibrant community that celebrates the arts at the museums, galleries and the nurturing estuaries of art.

  This is not a comprehensive effort to cover every event in Tampa and St. Petersburg, only the ones we attend. We are new at blogging, and are learning as we grow, so expect some changes.

    A few weeks ago, the St Pete Times ran an article reporting that St Petersburg was rated the number one destination in Florida for the Arts by the readers of American Style. It is exciting to be a small part of this community.

    Art Taco will blog gallery openings, upcoming shows on a weekly basis, promote the arts, do interviews with community members, profile artists, do some education regarding processes, and respond to readers's questions and input.

     At the moment, there are two of us, Art Taco correspondent and long-time art habitue and documentary photographer, Malcom, and I.

* Why "Taco"? Because art is like a shell that can hold a wide variety of ingredients.