Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tampa Free Skool

I received a press release from Cole A. Bellamy, and here is an abbreviated version...
The Tampa Free School is based on other Free Skools around the US and world. Community-building and personal empowerment through teaching and learning. Anyone can teach or attend. based on a decentralized principle, classes are held in homes, parks, or other public spaces.


March classes include:

Beyond CFLs: Wholistic Energy Efficiency for your Dwelling
We will dicuss how to determine your current energy usage, how to reduce your seasonal energy use (heating and cooling), and how to reduce your baseload energy usage. We will focus on immediate steps a homeowner/renter can take (ie - no big renovation projects), within the larger context of understanding energy flow in the building.
Spoken Passages: Storytelling
The art of storytelling has propelled human civilization since it began. Storytelling brings us together around the campfire, around our children's beds when we tuck them in at night, and around the stage when we see a theatre performance.
Bread Making 101
Learn the basics of bread making and learn how baking your own bread is an inexpensive, delicious, impressive, and healthy alternative to store-bought bread.
Spicerack Herbalism
Learn the medicinal properties of commonly used kitchen herbs and spices. We will discuss proper storage of herbs, shelf life, growing herbs, dosage, and methods of preparation. Activities include making an infusion, a decoction, and a vinegar tincture.
T-Shirt Surgery: Bag Edition
Upcycle your old t-shirts into grocery bags that you can take to your local farmer's market! This class will include a tutorial for two bags: a large grocery bag and a medium produce bag.
Further details about these classes and many more can be found at!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Santaella Opening

Santaella building, side view.

Friday evening the reorganized Santaella Cigar Factory/Artist studios held their open studio night. The curated show in the main gallery was the "Art of Heartache"show was still up. It was reviewed here [Link] earlier. Most of the studios were open, and they had hung their work in the hallways. Many offered wine, cheese and other snacks to visitors. Beer was conspicuously absent.

There was a good turnout centered around a few studios in particular. This is not so much a review as it is a survey of the work of the artists that have studios there

Work by Debra Radke

On the left is a floral painting by Debra Radke [Link].

On the left is Lorrie Mason's, of Mason  Metal Designs' working table. On the right is jewelry by the same artist.

Work by Robert Allen Sargent

 Robert Allen Sargent's spacious studio is well-appointed and his work seems to be mostly portraiture. [Link].

 James Oleson was a guest artist at Santaella for this opening. He has been reviewed here before [Link]. James is a very talented artist who is equally at home welding, painting, or working in glass. He teaches at the Morean.

Work by Caesar A. Carbajal.

 This looked to be either a very clever installation dealing with gross commercialism and the passing of the analog era, looking like a flea-market table. It was the latter, and frankly, did not belong out in the hallway at an open studio night.

Paula Marie Brett in her studio

Paula Marie Brett's artist statement says she is primarily an abstract landscape painter. She has exibited nationally and internationally.  

On the left is Alex Expalter Torres with one of his portraits.

On the left, gallery goers meander around Rick Reeves' studio. He is a realist painter who does football team oriented paintings, and military, mostly civil war scenes. He has been reviewed here before [Link]. [Link].

Laszlo Horvath, who has been reviewed here before showed two digital movies in the first 3rd floor gallery.

On the left are Kerry Vosler and one of her students, William "Yeats" Inrig. Kerry does portraits and Spanish dancers [Link]. Kerry also heads the Vosler Young Artists' Center, another studio space at Santaella., which can be seen on the right. From talking with Vosler, the emphasis is on a sound foundation for the young artists.

 On the left is artist Lynn Manos posing with her work. Her work is compositionally precise and the colors carefully modulated. She is represented by Clayton galleries in Tampa. To see more, [Link].

 I walked into Lisa Presnail's studio to find the one and only Johnna Guzman looking beautiful and posing on a couch, modeling with a pit bull wearing a pink feathered boa like a tutu. This is part of the "Little Pet Project". People were having a lot of fun taking turns posing before Presnail's lens, or tending to their dogs.

It was a nice evening.

--- Luis

Monday, February 27, 2012

Paint The Town @ Dan Painter's Gallery

Dan Painter is one of the friendliest, most affable people in the St Pete arts scene. He works in several media, and is seen on the right with one of his female "trophy" sculptures. Since opening his studio for openings and parties, it has become a popular stop on the 2nd Saturday arts trail.

The event was held to help sponsor the Suncoast  Seabird Sanctuary, with a pelican missing part of a wing in a cage at the rear of the gallery. This is their table, with materials, brochures, and bottles for people to make contributions. The Sanctuary can be reached here: [Link]. Note the appropriate background Dan found for the display. Dan has some excellent pieces of poster art from fairs/carnivals.

This sidewalk Mona Lisa in chalk greeted gallery goers. On the right is another of Painter's "trophy" sculptures. Note the large ears.

This sculpture was laid down on the floor along the back wall.

The "Four Horses of the Apocalypse"  by Daniel Painter. This quartet of equine skeletons jumps out of the frame through the 4rth wall into space.

Congratulations to Daniel Painter for putting together an enjoyable opening.

--- Luis

H'Arts Desire @ Florida Craftsmen Arts Lofts

The Arts Lofts above Florida Craftsmen Gallery is a group of rental studios. These artists put up a monthly show in the lobby by the elevators on the second floor, and always have more work in the ground floor lobby as well.

The Exhibit

Work by Javier T. Dones

I've reviewed Javier T. Dones' work here before [Link] Dones' work are a kind of external representation of his inner landscape, often involving organic forms, the colors and patterns of the tropical landscape of his native land, and spiritual overtones. Most of them are done in stressed metals. This one has wave-like ridges or striations around a central element, which at the core a darker gray shielded  or surrounded by a lighter gray.

Lee West, "Passion"

"Passion" is an oil painting by Lee West. A realistic-looking close-up of a plant and a quintet of flowers in different stages of blooming. Three of them are readily visible, then the other two slowly reveal themselves.

Betsy Orbe Lester, "A Good Mantra is Hard to Find"

Betsy Orbe Lester teaches at Eckerd College and at The Morean Art Center. She has been reviewed here before. In "A Good Mantra is Hard to Find" We see three cherries (or are they long-stemmed apples?) two stems point in one direction, the upper one in the other. Likewise, there are white 'vector' arrows, or lack of a better term, pointing right and left (forward/backward in time?). A third arrow connects the two lower forms, as if sequencing.

Work by Brian James

Brian James is a photographer with a studio in the Lofts. Most of the work hanging in his studio leans towards the commercial side, including fashion/modeling, but he has several landscapes and this close-up photo of an old VW Beetle. The oblique perspective works well compositionally with the rounded form of the vehicle.

Rebecca Skelton, "Desire, Labor, Regret"

Note all the compartmentalized sub-spaces in this oil painting. There are two yellowish rectangles at 90 degrees to each other, the vertical one has what appears to be a strange die near the top. The other boxes contain different things, some abstract-looking, some organic. One looks like an egg, there's a spiral, what appears to be a female figure in a log white dress, perhaps running to or from something...pearl-like forms, a box within a box, another female figure, this one looking like an insect trapped in amber, and a hand. Intriguing, mysterious and passionate, the kind of work that generates narratives and serves up questions.

Congratulations to all the artists and to Art Lofts for a small gem of a show.

--- Luis 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

WTCA, Santaella, and what Megan Voeller wrote

First, you should read this well-written -- and researched -- article in Creative Loafing by Megan Voeller [Link]. I went to the Santaella re-branding/opening last night, which will be reviewed in a separate post here. A few observations...

Most organizations manned by or comprised of very opinionated and passionate people (like artists) are no strangers to disagreements and drama. It happens. In a time of little money even more so. Several people that I spoke with were unhappy with Ms. Voeller's article. One, feeling stung by her article, loudly voiced displeasure, then jumped to make certain what was said between us was "off the record", and I have kept it so.  From what I gleaned through speaking (on the record) with several artists at Santaella, she presented both sides fairly and realistically. In this type of situation this is not going to make a writer many friends at the moment.

I heard first-hand comments about how Maida Millan's leadership was attracting "beer-drinkers", instead of the much more coveted wine variety. The desire to turn back the format to the Gallery 1906 days was mentioned. In life, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to turn back the clock. The very middle class buyers that fueled those happier days have been decimated by the economic downturn and not just in Tampa. There is more competition for fewer dollars now. What the Santaella artists are experiencing is widespread in this arts market and many others. It is natural that studio residents are scrambling to increase commerce, but the line between doing this gracefully and grotesquely is a thin one.

One of the dangers of the freeform format is that Santaella will turn into just another rent-a-wall gallery. This rarely works well for the artists. There are and have been several in the Bay area over the years. It's attractive to artists who cannot get shows on the merits of their work, or due to marketing ineptitude, but the result is an uncurated mush that is rarely rotated and soon fades into wallpaper indistinguishable from background radiation. Most prospective buyers of the kind that every artist wants aren't interested in unvetted art.

In spite of the present tumult and regrettable fallings out, I believe that the balance at Santaella will settle down considerably in a year or two, in terms of reality vs expectations.

--- Luis

Backbone @ Collective

Painting by Landon Richmond, model: Allie Wesenberg

This show featured the paintings of Landon Richmond and the fashions of Joanna Colbentz -- together. Many of the paintings were coupled with models in tableaux in poses similar to them. 

On the left is a perfect example. Model Allie Wesenberg  (in her own painted frame) mirrors the pose of the figure in the "Help" painting by Landon Richmond.

Work by Landon Richmond

The paintings were dramatic surreal scenes with figures in emphatic poses and situations. Several had the theme of reaching for something.

Work by Landon RIchmond, Model: Dana Meeks

On the left is a painting by Landon Richmond, of a girl wearing her hearts on her  sleeveless arm. Model Dana Meeks had her hearts tied to her arms, and viewers could snip off one of them as a Gothic kind of Valentine.

Here's what the hearts looked like. These were strewn around Ms. Meek's feet.

On the right is model Frank Cipriani posing in a surreal background painting on the gallery wall.

On the left is the work by Landon Richmond, below, the tableau.

 Congratulations to Landon, all of the models, to Joanna Coblentz [Link], and to Collective for an unusual show.

--- Luis

Friday, February 24, 2012

Distant Visions V.2.0 @ Duncan McClellan Glass

DMG front room
Some AT  readers may be experiencing a little deja vu after reading the title. Yes, it is the same show  as this one [Link], with a few exceptions, and those are what this blog post is about. The rest can be gleaned from the earlier review. DMG's space is a singular one, with a post-industrial (literally and figuratively) cavernous look that invites the viewer to let his curiosity off-leash and wander at leisure among the art works. I have referred to it in conversation as a kind of theme park for the arts.

Duncan McClellan, carved wine glasses

 Two rows of carved wine glasses by Duncan Mc Clellan. These beautiful pieces are the most economical way to own one of his works, and as a set, a great way to integrate art into one's life.

Martin Rosol, "Monos"

This work, done in optical glass by Martin Rosol, has carefully modulated color and matte finishes. It has a sense of unity from slightly disparate elements. The eternal play between the dual and the singular is also reflected in the title. It seems to glow from within.

Holly Grace,

Holly Grace has been reviewed here before at DMG. Her work has an unusual blend of the narrative and a strong holistic gestalt. Viewing them, I vacillate between those two poles. They also work as exquisite abstract forms. The vertical piece is about 8-10" tall. They are made of sculpted glass.

Work by M. Schiavon

Massimiliano Schiavon's untitled work on the left is made of blown glass, filigrana cane which have been diamond carved. I've reviewed Schiavon's work here before, but couldn't resist this one. His work has a great blend of tight control of materials and wild expression. There's some tribal aspects to it as well.

Josh Simpson, "Megaplanet"

Josh Simpson's "Megaplanet" series stopped gallery goers in their tracks. They look like a glass globe containing a dreamily-colored coral reef. Each is a microverse unto itself, and a metaphor for the Earth itself. Viewer after viewer stood mute/spellbound, their attention riveted hypnotically by these works as if looking into an organic crystal ball reminding them of the beauty and importance of the world we live in. These are simply stunning.

Duncan McClellan, "Life"

This piece is about 2.5' tall. Titled life, it brings the Tree of Life to mind, an arboreal female figure with branches for limbs, basking in the (male) figure f the sun. Many of McClellan's works are rich in symbolic imagery.

Congratulations to all the artists, Duncan McClellan and the crew for a good show.

--- Luis

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Open Mic @ Cafe Hey

Cafe Hey [Link] is a pearl tucked just north of the Insterstate at 1540 N. Franklin St. On Thursday evenings Open Mic night is held. It is run beautifully by poetess Nyssa Hanger and her Doorstop Productions outfit [Link] and MC'd by Cole Bellamy. Anyone can walk in, sign the sheet and perform. People tell stories, do stand-up comedy, sing, play music, and read poetry. Viewers take all this in while sipping coffees and enjoying excellent soups, baked goodies, sandwiches and more. Admission is free, though donations are appreciated.

Manette singing

Manette warmed up the crowd with a heartwarming sing-along of the song Frere Jacques [Link].

Law Smith did his self-mocking, cosmopolitan alternative comedy. A bit on Domino's $5 pizza was ironic and really funny. There was another on how dogs own us, including picking up their poop, Valentine's Day, and more. His pacing and delivery are quite good.

Angel Wings, dealing with the Ego, Human potential and its development, and other empowering themes read enthusiastically and expressively made Elizabeth's performance endearing and memorable.

There's something about Riva. Her courage and determination are something to behold. She sang her moving rendition of Leonard Cohen's haunting "Halleluja" [Link] in a way that transcended her years. Afterwards, the Beatle's  Yellow Submarine. 

Tony did stand-up about day jobs, getting up early, taking breaks, smoking breaks, birthday cakes, and how to control traffic with snipers firing tickets onto cars. He does a great straight-man routine.

 Riva had challenged Brian to do a rendition of Lady Gaga's Pokerface. It was one of the many highlights of the evening, bringing the house down, only to be followed by a brilliant and hilarious PG-13 song about love and pants.

John Jacobs did a routine about shopping on Craigslist, Ikea and assembling their furniture, their .50 hot dogs, being high and shopping for candy. Optimism and gambling, too.

Steven read from his 100-item bucket list, things like "seeing a ghost, drinking from Angel Falls, witness someone dying, doing a poetry book. and ayahuasca". He also read some delightfully surreal poetry.

Mr. Matthew played Bush's "Glycerine" beautifully, then a moving song of his own.

 Master of Ceremonies Cole Bellamy did the break with a ironic and funny routine on unused love.

Mo spoke about phone messages soliciting a visit, and a great free-association, stream-of-consciousness rapid-fire rant.

Amy read a great story about Raccoons mating under one's house, and Gummy Lumps.

Nyssa read a fascinating passage on the limits of the body, an insight into the nexus where inner cosmology extends into the outer.  Speaking of the body, Nyssa communicates as much with hers as she does with the spoken word.

Eternal read a poem against depersonalization, the negative effects of technology, consumerism, self-questioning, the worship of money, all with a patriotic ending.

J.B. Ball did an apparently autobiographical piece on former athletes who didn't make the big leagues, with plenty of non-PC allusions.

 Alex read one of her intensely beautiful, surreal poems, this one about a man with three legs. 

 Joseph did some beautiful musical compositions on the keyboard, and a very personal account of his days wrestling with alcoholism, ending with a dream about a mysterious entity that lead to the realization that "It was nothing but me".

Treat yourself to open mic night on thursdays (7-9 PM) at Cafe hey. This is fantastic stuff going on there, uplifting, real, sensuous, and intensely human. There's an unusual and delicate balance at play here. Think of it as taking your soul to the laundry.

--- Luis