Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cirque Du Surreal and Peep Show @ Salt Creek

The Gulf Coast Artist's Alliance (GCAA) is a non-profit organization based in the Tampa Bay area whose emphasis is in linking artists, arts organizations and art lovers. They staged the combined Cirque du Surreal and the "naughty" Peep Show (nudes).

The show was at one of St. Peterburg's greatest spaces for art, Salt Creek Artworks (SCA), a canal-front large building with a huge gallery space in the front of the ground floor, and a warren of artists' studios, many bigger than some local galleries behind that, and on the 2nd floor.

One of the things that makes the GCAA great is that they recognize that many of their members are multi-talented, as a result, there were poets, musicians, story tellers, dancers, etc. performing in the back half of the SCA gallery. There was no shortage of enthusiasm from the participants at this show.

Buying a GCAA membership as a "Visual Artist" entitles you to get into at least four shows yearly, including the Cirque du Surreal show. While this is very democratic & great for members, it also guarantees that the overall quality and thematic coherence of the show will be inconsistent. This is one of those shows where a viewer has to do a lot of sifting, because the quality can -- and does -- dip significantly.

A few standouts in the show: "Bird and Skull", by Eric Beckur, a very realistic and moving acrylic painting, a glowing nude seen through windowed doors, "Nu Dans l'Aterlier", by William Wegmuller, a wire Mermaid sculpture titled "Modern Mermaid", by Brandy Star, and too many others to mention here.

It was a lively show, what with belly dancers, a tuba player, poets, character actors, artists that dressed up, some in the spirit of the Peep Show. I thoroughly dislike the whole Jurassic idea of segregating the nude and erotic art into a curtained corner, and the name the GCAA has given it. Maybe they should have walled it off and provided peep holes to view it through. As it was, there was no one watching the entrance, and a minor could have easily strolled in -- as they always have into peep shows.

The security guard at the event allowed the entry-exit lanes in the parking lot to be blocked by a few  thoughless ****s, and several people were stuck in the parking lot, unable to leave until one kind soul moved his car.

AT 's best part of the evening was spent in the studios behind the scenes with three artists well worth visiting: Girard Louis Drouillard, Mike Conway, and Paula Allen, aka "Polly Zoom". Drouillard creates exquisite abstract works on stressed metals that have other materials glued onto the surface, which he also paints. He is a multi-talented artist, too, and has work in several galleries. I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Conway, a multimedia artist working with large, B&W, hand-colored prints. Mike, who's a very sociable fellow, set up some chairs and hosted an impromptu conversation of people getting to know each other and talking about art. "Polly Zoom" is the nom d' pinceau of Paula Allen, a charming, affable painter who, btw, will be showing at the upcoming "Artists Choose Artists" show at the venue formerly known as Artful Living, now upscaled to Davidson Fine Arts this coming weekend.

It was a wonderful evening.

--- Luis

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