Did everybody have a fun September? Florida, and Tampa Bay in particular, was both well-prepared and incredibly lucky that Irma didnäó»t turn into a catastrophe. As weäó»re seeing right now with the devastation in Puerto Rico, things could have been vastly worse. While people and their safety come first, it was also great news that there was relatively little damage to the areaäó»s arts institutions.
Shielding Floridaäó»s Art
For those who werenäó»t voraciously keeping up with things in real time, the New York Times last month served up a thorough post-Irma rundownæof both preparation and damage, or lack thereof, to key Florida institutions including the Sarasota Ballet and the Hemingway House in Key West.
Area museums by and large were spared major damage, and reopened within about a week of Irma, with no more hassle than a few rescheduled events.
Miamiäó»s many museums also reopened quickly, and reported essentially no damage, according to the Miami Herald.
Of course, all that good news is strictly temporary. Floridaäó»s west coast has had a statistically improbable run without serious hurricane impacts. But as the seas warm up, some of the preparations described in the Times piece äóñ such as special protection for outdoor sculptures by Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons äóñ seem likely to become annual routines.
In non-hurricane updates:
Is Atlanta Coming to Florida?
Oh Florida! Author and TBT writer Craig Pitman recently spotted a casting call for äóìVERY TAN Caucasians to play Floridiansäó in a scene for the FX show Atlanta.
The show, created by SNL and Community alum Donald Glover, is one of the best on TV, so itäó»s a safe bet any depiction of Floridians will be more interesting than the äóÖcharactery white trashäó» described in the brief call. Unfortunately, the shoot itself is already over, but weäó»ll be keeping an eye out for the results.
Rising Tampa Bay Artists: Estefania Velez
While weäó»re obviously focused on goings on here in Pinellas, we also occasionally check in with area artists doing exciting work elsewhere (see for instance our profile of ex-äó»Burger Emily Miller). Another regional painter recently making a name for herself is Estefania Velez, who earned her BFA from USF in 2015 and headed to the Big Apple for an MFA at Brooklyn College. In just a few months since graduating, Velez has curated or appeared in several shows in New York, most recently including the duo show Detected Flux last weekend at Dixon Place.
Velezäó»s work is both sophisticated and raw, with a streak of neoprimitivism she shares with a cadre of recent USF alums who graduated under the influence of Ezra Johnson and Elizabeth Condon. Weäó»re hoping to feature a more in-depth profile of Velez soon.
In other not-exactly-Pinellas news, it feels like time for an update on the amazing work being done by Tampaäó»s Tempus Projects. Over the last two years, the Seminole Heights space has taken its already-tight game to the next-next level, expanding to include the CUNSTHAUS sister space, a wood shop, and, most impressively, a four-times-yearly artist-in-residence program. Each resident spends a month in the apartment directly above Tempus, and produces a fresh body of work to be shown downstairs. The list of residents is already staggering, including James Franco bestie Kalup Linzy and Canadian wunderkind Jenal Dolson.
And, as it has been for years, Tempus remains the anchor of a vibrant but somewhat hidden art scene in Seminole Heights. Thereäó»s a great opportunity to catch up with Tempus, and a dozen other galleries and studio spaces in the neighborhood, at the Heights Art Studio + Gallery Tour on October 21st. We highly recommend it.
Winter, and Art Basel, are Coming
Itäó»s never too early to start getting ready for the biggest art fair in North America. Yes, itäó»s a loosely-curated, overcommercialized mess, and the effort of separating the gold from the dross is utterly exhausting. But for that very reason, itäó»s also an amazing opportunity for a hyper-compressed, half-week education in the breadth and depth of the art world äóñ and you may even find a moment of peace to appreciate some of the truly great work that does make the trip.
Art Basel runs from Dec. 6-10 (at least officially), and if you havenäó»t already booked a hotel room, nowäó»s the time to do it.