Monday, November 28, 2011

Pulchritudinous @ West Tampa Center for the Arts

WTCA Entrance

The word pulchritudinous means "physically beautiful, comely". This is the WTCA's opening show for the 2011-2012 season, featuring Amy Royale, David Gabbard, Selina Roman, Gabriel Ramos, Scott Draft, and Alex Torres. The center, one of the premier art spaces in Tampa, is a non-profit situated at 1906 North Armenia Ave in the Santaella  Cigar factory building. It not only has exhibition spaces, but it also houses several artists' studios. Maida Millan is the Director of the WTCA. A daring, risk-taking art presence, she has opened this season with a show to remember.

Amy Royale, "Untitled"

In the main exhibit space, Gallery 209, the work of Amy Royale was featured. Large black-and-white photographs of her own, now loose skin, after losing 150 lbs. She gives the skin expressive power by using it as a medium, her hands twisting and gnarling it into tortured forms. This is courageous, highly personal work.

The series is titled "Abstracted Beauty", and it is abstracted. It takes a minute to grasp what one is looking at. Body image is at the core of this series. The photographer has accomplished a major weight loss, and this is part of her dealing with the changes involved. Some of the images are at peace, others bristling with anger.

Amy Royale, "Untitled"

Besides the aforementioned issues, in these images is another aspect, that of the bodyscape. The flesh as landscape, in this case its features very fluid and shape-shifting. Some of them reminded me of famous landscapes in Utah (thinking of The Wave in particular). The tight, youthful looking skin of the hands juxtaposed with the stretch-marked folds it clutches heightens both via the contrast of the juxtaposition.

Amy Royale, "Untitled"

This one on the left was very different from the others, more at peace, and perhaps more of a bodyscape than the others. This is well-conceived and executed work that tests the conventions of beauty and self-image..

Amy draws beautifully, too. On the right is a drawing by Amy Royale titled "Faeirie Ring".

Rion Sabean, "Forever Changed: After"

In the hallway adjacent to Gallery 209, there were inkjet prints by Rion Sabean, dealing with homoerotic awakenings, this one titled: "Forever Changed: After". The work had a sensuality and inward spiritual feeling of revelation, again themed around the physical and our perception of our own bodies as well as those of others.

Other works in the hallways...

David Gabbard, "American Middle Class Family"

This series of drawings by David Gabbard, along the lines of dysfunctional/apocalyptic family snaps that was dripping with irony.

There was a video installation at the end of the 3rd floor hallway.

I spotted this drawing in the hallway, somehow managing to miss photographing the label. This is very good.

Amy Royale, "Untitled"

This was one of three cyanotypes by Amy Royale, from the "Excess Skin Barbie Series"

Congratulations to all the artists, Maida Millan and the WTCA for a progressive show and great season opener.

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