Celebrating the Power of Hispanic Art

The Hurricane Within is a Celebration
of the Cultural Power of Hispanic Art

Through December 17
Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art
Details here

The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, located on the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg College, is a hidden gem of the Tampa Bay area – with an impressive art collection from the artists who give the museum its name, as well as artists from all over the country and the world.

Among exhibitions that focus on the work of SPC faculty and visual artist and educator Donald Saff, visitors can also find the special exhibition The Hurricane Within: Vibrancy and Resilience of Hispanic Heritage, on display through December 17.

Tomas Marais (Cuban/American, 1931 – 2004), Recogedora de Guiras (Woman Picking-up Calabash Fruit), 1961-1964, Woodcut, 11 3/4 x 7in. Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, St. Petersburg College, from the Gulf Coast Museum Collection, gift of the artist

As its title indicates, the exhibition, created to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, is an homage to the art of creators from Latin American culture.

This year’s exhibition focuses its theme on the destructive power of storms and wind, “draw[ing] inspiration from two ancient deities contained within the origin stories of Hispanic peoples.”

One of them is Guabancex, the Taíno deity of chaos and disorder, also known as “Cacique of the Wind,” worshipped by the indigenous people of what is now Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jaimaca, Haiti, Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Florida.

The second deity is Huracán, the Mayan god often referred to as “Heart of Sky” – ruler of wind, storm and fire, and one of the creators of humanity.

Tomas Marais (Cuban/American, 1931 – 2004), Maremagnun, 1963, Woodcut, 27 x 23 1/4in. Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, gift of the artist to the Gulf Coast Museum Collection

It is worth noting that, though The Hurricane Within makes reference to Huracán, its focus is mostly on the work of Cuban and Cuban American artists, in particular small woodcuts from the 1960s by Tomás Marais, which depict Cubans, often in indigenous dress, surrounded by the landscape of the island.

The landscape is rendered both in color and in black and white, with lovely and intricate textural touches, a sense of bustle and a clear connection with nature.

Alfredo Sosabravo (Cuban, b. 1930), Series Negro: Paisaje Calcinado, 1979, Lithograph, 19 x 27 1/4in. Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, St. Petersburg College, In honor of the Tomas Marais Collection, from his sister Nancy Brito

Other landscape-centric works in the exhibition include Cuban artist Alfredo Sosabravo’s Paisaje Calcinado, a lithograph depicting what appears to be just-charred leaves and trees in stark black-and-white contrast.

Meanwhile, one of the largest pieces in the exhibit is Roberto Juarez’s Alley Violets, a screenprint depicting three of the titular flowers, each increasing in size, against a light paper background.

Alfredo Echazarreta (Chile b. 1945), O Sea No Pacifico, 1988, Woodblock, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, St. Petersburg College, gift of Caroline Adams Byrd-Denjoy

The show also contains a South American entry by Chilean Alfredo Echazarreta, whose O sea No Pacífico is a woodblock depicting a group of people in a small boat in the middle of a furious ocean.

The only photographic work included in the exhibit is a portrait by Cuban American artist Pedro Gonzalez titled Devour, another high-contrast black-and-white piece depicting a shirtless man against a white background, looking straight at the camera with what appears to be a mouth full of paint and bits of dried paint all over his torso.

Pedro Gonzalez (Cuban/American, b. 1974), Devour, 1999, Piezography photo print, 57 x 45in. Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, gift of the artist to the Gulf Coast Museum of Art Collection

Together, these works effectively communicate a powerful message, and one that is appropriate for a celebration of Hispanic work and Hispanic people – this is not a monolithic community, and even artists with similar national or ethnic backgrounds can produce a breadth of work that matches that of any other culture.

The Hurricane Within illustrates the power and strength of Hispanic art through nature’s force and the vitality of these artists.



The Hurricane Within
Through December 17
Free, donations welcome
Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art
600 E Klosterman Rd
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
Tuesday – Saturday 10 am–5 pm
Sunday 1-5 pm


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