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.

Refractory @ Tampa Armature Works

The Old Trolley Barn, where Tampa trolleys were maintained is on the banks of the Hillsbrough River, across from Blake High School. It's a huge space, divided into three long rectangular spaces. Saturday Oct. 15th, the Refractory, a collaborative of well known Tampa Bay cultural activists including Ken Cowart, Joe Griffith, and T. Hampton Dohrman with assistance from Adam Kitzerow, Gregory Green and Ellen Mueller, put on a spectacular multi-media art exhibition and party there which I attended.

There must have been around a dozen or more projected video loops going on simultaneously. The effect was sensory overload of the best kind, defying analysis, loosening a torrent of emotions. People, myself included, walked around entranced in a space walled by moving imagery from artists like Robert Chambers, Genesis P. Orridge, Negativland, Spanky and Maureen Hudas, Richard Kern, Gerhardt Gruen, James Johnson, Clem Crowder, FaFa, Gean Moreno, Michael LeMieux, Kurt Piazza, Robb Fladry + Aaron Hutcheson, Brian Taylor, Noelle Mason and Ellen Mueller.

There was also music, some sound installations by John Russell and Yousef Danak. Genesis P. Orridge and other musicians played intense performances. One large and 2-3 small Dream Machine Installations (originally designed as a stroboscopic meditative device by the late, Bryon Gysin) were set up. The large one was about 7-8' high, a revolving cylinder with cut-outs emitting light.

An interesting short performance/mystery play with guys wearing black hoods over their heads involving a smoky chain saw, music, and dancing took place in an adjacent room. No one got too close to the performers!

It was a dynamic art happening and a great party, the kind we need more of in the Tampa Bay area. Congratulations to the Refractory, and we hope you will be doing more things like this, and soon.

A special note of thanks to Kim and Danielle.

--- Luis

Friday, October 15, 2010

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

There is a suite of four exquisite paintings in the Mindy Solomon Gallery by Diane Ding. In three of the four paintings (I will treat the other separately), there are two figures. The one to the viewer's right is Caucasian/male and the one on the left Asian/female. They wear brightly colored clothing that denote class, social standing, and culture. In these three paintings, the Western male figure looks back at the viewer, apparently unaware of the other figure. The look is overconfident, if not arrogant -- or imperial. The feminine Asian figures look disturbed, ill-at-ease, almost in disbelief. The juxtapositions partially seem to reflect Imperial Tectonics. Ms. Ding includes birds in these paintings, plants and fans as well.  The tension between the two figures is exacerbated by the way the very air between the two is drawn, with strong, nervous lines or paint that looks like bruises.

 The 4th painting shows a baby tightly hugging (or wrestling) a carp. The baby's face looks much older than it should. He holds on to the carp as if holding onto a prize. Ms. Ding told me that if one looks carefully, the scales on the carp are in the form of ancient Chinese money. This is a parable on growing up Chinese, and the pressures children are under to be successful, even from an early age.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This Weekend: Oct 15th - 17th

The Refractory Show - A one-of-a-kind multimedia Art Party. With Kurt Piazza, Robert Chambers, Michael Lemieux, Genesis Orridge, Bryan Taylor and many others.

The Refractory Show, 8-11 PM Friday, Oct. 15th, @ 1910 N. Ola Avenue (the old Tampa Armature Works and Trolley Barn), where the Barkin Hearts party was held. Tampa. $5.

Gifts for Glitter - Alaine Bernat, a roller derby girl aka Glitter Head Splitter photographer and area artist was recently injured in a scooter vs. truck accident. Her friends are having a fundraiser event for her. The Sleepy Vikings, Neglected Superheroes, Florida Night Heat, Battlestar and others will be in concert. The Tampa Bay Darlins will be having a bake sale. Arts, services, crafts and more will be auctioned for this worthy cause.

8PM Friday, Oct 15th. 1327 Seventh Ave. Ybor City, Tampa. Free admission. 813.810.0814

Artslofts @ Florida Craftsmen: American Monsters - American Monsters, by photographer Johnny Rosenbloom, a Halloween themed exhibition.

Runs through Oct 31. 10 Fifth St. North, second floor. St Petersburg.


Free Pops Concerts in The Park - Friday, Oct 15th, at River Tower Park, Tampa, 7 PM. Sat. Oct 16th, at Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg. Get there early, bring a groundcloth and folding chairs, and make a picnic out of the evening. Free.

Fabricated, multimedia clothing art by Giannina Coppiano Dwin, @ Florida Craftsmen Gallery, throughNov 6th. Hrs. 10 AM to 5:30 PM. Monday through Saturday Free, at 501 Central Ave. St Petersburg. 727.821.7391

--- Luis

Monday, October 11, 2010

Midtown Through Our Eyes: Journeys In Journalism.

[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, development and even an art gallery, Station Number Three, 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. Studio @ 620 last Thursday is where I saw their exhibit and poetry reading.

I go to a lot of poetry readings, but this one was different. There were beautiful, brilliant happy poems from these youthful poets, and some about things no child should have to experience anywhere, things that happen every day throughout the world, sometimes in faraway places, and sometimes nearby. No matter how heart-breaking some of them were, these kids have admirable strength and instill in us hope for a better future. Bravo.

There's way too many photographs to review here, but a few that linger in my mind are: "Tender Kiss", by Maria Coletti. A mother and three children sitting on the porch of a house. The Mom leans over to kiss her baby girl and she leans towards her, being held by a slightly older brother. Leaning against the wall of the house are recently-used fishing rods, and on the other side of the porch a small barbecue. Three colorful poolside photographs by Paris Williams, two of Andrew Hodges, one diving, and the other swimming, and one of Zauria Mixon and Jordan Herring are as much about art as they are about reportage.

Remember the struggle of this community for a Post Office?  Cyle Watts' pictures of mailman Herman Edwards as a towering figure, photographed from a low point-of-view and a close-up narrative portrait of this mailman's face embed this into the record of Midtown. A man who says "This job is perfect for me".

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.

The show is traveling around town, will be at Kahwah Cafe the 2nd week of December.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sapience @ C. Emerson Fine Arts

Sapience, the theme and title of the current show at C. Emerson Fine Arts (CEFA) gallery, means wisdom/intelligence. Consequently, wisdom means "...the ability of an organism or entity to act with appropriate judgment. Judgment is a mental faculty which is a component of intelligence or alternatively may be considered an additional faculty, apart from intelligence, with its own properties." Wisdom, like intelligence, is a process or journey, not a discrete state or destination.

There are six artists in this show (in alphabetical order): Kyan Bishop, Neverne Covington, Francesco Lo Castro, Sally Mankus,  Kim Radatz, and Mara Rivet.

When one enters the gallery, the first thing one sees is a work by Kim Radatz, a studio artist who lives in Tampa Florida and Lewiston, Minnesota. She is the artist who had a memorable piece in CEFA's  bicycle show titled "Melanie (Some People Say I Done Alright for a Girl)" which you can see here. In Sapience, Ms. Radatz exhibits a ghostly white paper boat  buoyed up by a small crystalline mound of rock salt around its perimeter. She describes the salt as that "... from shedded tears, both happy and sad, that keep the vessel buoyant for the journey ahead.". Written over every bit of the boat are the words "Wishful Thinking". The interior of the boat is filled with small origami-like paper fortune tellers, the kind children play with. It should be noted that photographing a white object is difficult, and the picture provided doesn't do it justice. In person, the whole thing glows. To take a three-dimensional work like this in, I make it a practice to walk 360 degrees around it to acquire a fuller, holographic image of the piece.

There is no ferryman, nor oar locks or oars on this conceptual boat. It doesn't need any. The waters it crosses are inside us, and the power that drives it is written all over it. It ferries scores of fortune tellers, each having within it a plurality of potential fortunes, not just one. The words, fortune tellers, boat, salt, the entire gestalt of it key into one's personal experience, unlock and release intense thoughts, memories and feelings, and suddenly you realize where this boat is taking you.

Kyan Bishop is a Korean-born, Minnesota-raised artist who has worked in many media. Some of her ceramics installations are wall-sized, but in Sapience, her works consist of personal narrative, organic-looking, complex, folded ceramic planes lying on bamboo shelves. She refers to these as poetic-emotional landscapes. What gives these a real twist are the small arched mirrors bordering on the bamboo shelves at the bottom, on the walls behind each work, reflecting the other side of the work to viewers. This apparently simple device amps up the complexity of these works considerably. It raises questions about these landscapes being read forwards and backwards and reversed. One thing we soon learn is that the forms are not symmetrically commutative. I read in a recent New Scientist magazine that understanding mirror images is one of the signs of intelligence.

"Minerva", by Francesco lo Castro, compete with God-beams emanating from her forehead and temporal areas (reminiscent of her birth?), and Ben-Day dots gathering into sheer radiant whiteness around her face, is a multi-media work on wood. The image wraps around the edge of the work in a rainbow. The Goddess looks up in an apparently fervent & ecstatic moment.  Minerva had many avatars, each presiding over one of her many aspects, though here she is represented in a singular manner. She was the Roman Goddess of commerce, poetry, weaving, crafts, medicine, magic, inventor of music, and Goddess of wisdom. She is sometimes shown with an owl for that reason.

Sally Mankus' work is on distressed, burnt-looking, rusty metal surfaces, some of them on serving-tray like forms. One has an image of two hands on them. Older hands, in an imploring gesture. Asking the viewer a question. My answer was compassion and empathy. Other Mankus pieces have female figures that are neither in or on the metal, but emerging from or disappearing into it. In one half of a diptych, a woman looks doubtful and /or lost. In the other, an older version looks more relaxed, confident and knowing.

Raw, passionate drawings on collaged, wrinkled with topographic map intensity pieces of paper with text on them. Mara Rivet's complex pieces are a combination of unbridled, and simultaneously controlled emotion and intelligence at different levels. A heart lies bare, superimposed on the text, its familiar, intimate form seizing our attention. But viewers should take the time and energy to immerse themselves into the work. The text is not mere background or purely formal context. It is an integral part of her work. Being in pieces of paper, it is more like hypertext than linear text.

"Sapience" is a theme one might initially think too broad or diffuse, but Lori Johns has curated  a show with a multiplicity of incisive approaches to it.

"Sapience" will be up through Nov. 13, according to the CEFA site, but I've heard that it may run longer. C.Emerson Fine Arts
909 Central Avenue
Saint Petersburg, Florida
  Hours: Tuesday - Friday 11-4, Sat 11-5 (be aware that the gallery will be closed this friday, Oct. 15th)

--- Luis

Thursday, October 7, 2010

This Weekend: Oct. 8th - 10th

Transformations, Part II @ The Morean Arts Center - Mindy Solomon is the guest curator at the Morean for this show, which is tied to the show at her own gallery with the same two artists, Theo Wucjik and Wanxin Zhang. Opens Friday, Oct 8th, 5:30-8 PM. Artist's talk and Members Preview. 719 Central Avenue, St Petersburg.

Studio @ 620 - Last day of "Midtown Through Our Eyes",  a photographic exhibit by children from elementary. middle and high-school ages in Midtown, and Taste of Midtown Friday October 8, 5:00 - 8:00 PM 620 1st Ave S. Great home-cooked food.

2010 Graphics Studio Art Sale - Graphic Studio's annual sale takes place Friday, Oct. 8th, with artists like Rosenquist, Ruscha, Rauschenberg, Wegman, Los Carpinteros, Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Vik Muniz, Mapplethorpe, Pearlstein and many others. This is a great chance to acquire lesser works from first-rate artists at decent prices. Friday, Oct 8th, @ Graphic Studio, 3702 Spectrum Blvd. Suite 100, on the USF Campus. 10 AM to 9 PM. Expect prices to start at $250, and they go into the tens of thousands.

Downtown Arts Walk, St. Pete - Many galleries are open from 5:30 PM Saturday Oct. 9th. Download a map at:

Fringe @ Tampa Museum - Member of FOTA, the Tampa Museum of Art (TMA) volunteers, Avant Garde and The Exhibitionists talk about the work of Roger Chamieh, Mernet Larsen, Lisa Scholder, and Kendra Frorup, and with the artists. Music, prizes & cash bar. 

Friday, Oct 8th @ 8 PM. $5 foe Museum Members, $10 for non-members. TMA 120 Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. 813.274.8130

Dunedin Studio Waltz - Eleven artists' studios, including plein-air artists who will be outside on Main Street Dunedin where it intersects the Pinellas Trail, are open to the public.

9 AM - 5 PM Saturday, Oct 9th. Venues:

Stirling Art Studios & Gallery: A group of artists working in various media. 730 Broadway, Suite 200, Dunedin. (727) 733-1688;
Luane Kane and Lead Lines Stained Glass Studio: 730 Broadway, Suite 2, Dunedin. (727) 733-8750
Plein Air Artists: Melissa Miller Nece, Jenna Star Friedman, Donald Eaton and Jana Withers. Main Street and Pinellas Trail in Dunedin
Debra Weible: Watercolor paintings. 421 Grant St., Dunedin. (727) 410-4246
Carol Sackman and Blake White: Mosaics, painted objects and furniture, art dolls and mixed media. 1524 Alamo Lane, Dunedin. (727) 736-4036;
Connie Parkinson: Lampworking, glass bead jewelry. 2830 Deer Hound Way, Palm Harbor. (727) 709-4069
Amy Wiley: Silversmith. 373 N Carolina Ave., Palm Harbor. (727) 458-0987;
Jennifer S. Weaver and Lee Anderson: Burnished and smoke-fired ceramics. 320 Lagoon Drive, Ozona. (727) 785-2890.
Trish Sande: Fiber art. 1663 Bentley Court, Palm Harbor. (727) 789-5211.
Barbara Melby Burhans and Ira Burhans: Handmade paper casting, handmade tile mosaics and ceramics. 110 Peterson Lane, Palm Harbor. (727) 772-9570;
Joyce Curvin: Whimsical art in papier-mache over recycled materials. 4875 Blue Jay Circle, Palm Harbor. (727) 943-2464;


Ybor Art Colony Open House - This fascinating warren of 12 artist's studios opens its doors at 1 PM Saturday Oct 9th.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Congratulations to Folkfest 2010

Folkfest is the annual street festival and sidewalk art show put on by Creative Clay on the 1100-1300 block section of Central Avenue, St Petersburg.

I briefly visited on Saturday evening, longer on Sunday morning, and found lots of improvements and a corresponding increased attendance. Merchants at the other end of Central reported increased pedestrian traffic, which I noticed on Saturday, and they gave the credit to Folkfest's festival goers drifting downtown afterwards.

Congratulations to Creative Clay, Folkfest and Artful Living for putting on their best festival to date.

Take Two @ Station Number Three

When I reported on opening night at Station Number Three (S#3), I noted that there were no tags on the work being displayed and that I would go back and do a review. That has not been possible. The main reason I wanted to return was to personally confirm what I had heard about what transpired with the work of two artists.

These two artists pulled their work out of the show well before its closing, for different reasons that I will not go into here, both having to do with significant and unusual problems with the gallery, one unresolved. This should have never happened. S#3 is open by appointment only. I've attempted to contact the number on the card I was given, left message, and no response.  

These are not the only problems reported concerning S#3, but this is not and will never be a gossip blog. Art Taco is not interested in spanking S#3 or putting the gallery down. On the contrary, we want S#3 to step up and succeed in every way and becoming a vibrant member of the arts community -- and Midtown, the community it is  a part of.
One of the principals has privately assured me that there are changes taking place to remedy these problems.

St. Petersburg is not a large city. The Arts community is relatively small. Everyone knows everyone, or soon will. This closeness can lead to cronyism, resentments, cliques, and familial types of dysfunction. These problems are not exclusively our own. They happen to some degree in most arts communities, but are exacerbated by the size of the arts community here and the current economic climate. If we desire a better future, each of us is going to have to do his part, individually and collectively.

--- Luis

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Up Close and Personal. Hi Res Scans of Masterpieces from the Uffizi gallery

High-Resolution scans of six masterpiece paintings from the Uffizi gallery in Florence are now available for public viewing. The 28 billion pixel resolution scans allow seeing details as small as 1/100th of a millimeter. Free. One can get lost in these paintings, poring over details. Let us know if anything in particular catches your eye (this is like Google Earth for paintings).

Here's the link. Enjoy.

--- Luis

Friday, October 1, 2010

Submerged Cathedral Artist Yolyanko Arguelles & Art Basel Miami

I was asked a while back if Yolyanko Arguelles, the artist whose work, currently at Collective gallery (601 Central Ave St Petersburg) would be at Art Basel Miami. I e-mailed him then, and I've finally received a response and it is in the affirmative. Yes, Yolyanko will be at Art Basel Miami this year. If the original questioner is interested in meeting him, please contact me and I will see if that can be arranged. Sorry it took so long to get the answer!

--- Luis

Ps. Here's the piece Claude Debussy wrote after learning about the myth of the Submerged Cathedral. Click here.