Five exhibits at three museums in the Tampa Bay area launch the fall art season with punch and pizzazz.
The comprehensive exhibits in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota present an enticing and wide variety of mediums, styles and subjects. And they all start this weekend.
‘ICONS OF STYLE’
The Ringling Museum of Art opens an exhibit Oct. 4 that celebrates fashion and fashion makers. Called “Icons of Style,” the multimedia show explains the creation of a custom-made dress from design to runway. The process is demonstrated through the use of fashion illustrations, photographs and actual costumes. Nearly 20 mannequins will be dressed in the actual costume whose creation is explored in the show.
Highlights of the show include memorable pieces created for famous fashion houses by such design notables as John Galliano, Kari Lagerfeld, Oliver Theyskens and Arnold Scassi.
A star-studded touch is added in presenting dresses worn by such celebrities as Barbra Streisand, Winona Ryder and Cate Blanchett as they walked the red carpet in Hollywood.
“Icons of Style”: Oct. 4 through Jan 5; Ringling Museum of Arts, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota; $25 adults; $20 seniors; $5 children age 6 to 17; (941) 359-5700 or visit www.ringling.org
In an exhibit opening Saturday, the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg presents an expansive look at contemporary African American Art in “Mixing Metaphors: The Aesthetic, the Social and the Political in African American Art.” This wide-ranging exhibit includes 90 paintings, prints, quilts, drawings, photographs, sculptures and mixed-media works by 36 talented American artists.
Some of the more familiar names to look for are Benny Andrews, Romare Beardon, John Biggers, Sam Gillian, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Martin Puryear, Faith Ringold, Lorna Simpson and Carrie Mae Weems.
The artists often tell stories in their works. Through their exploration of history, memories and everyday life, the artists emphasize the importance of the family and church. These themes, seen repeatedly throughout the exhibit, are visual metaphors that highlight the strength, perseverance, humanity and spirituality of the African American people.
The exhibit’s curator, author and professor, Deborah Willis, will present the Wayne W. and Frances Knight Parrish Lecture, “Reading Art as a Metaphor,” at 3 p.m. Sunday.
“Mixing Metaphors”: Oct. 5 through Jan. 5; The Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg; $17 adults; $15 seniors; $10 children age 7 to 18; (727) 896-2667 and www.fine-arts.org
The Tampa Museum of Art breaks into fall with three distinct and diverse exhibits that individually showcase contemporary photography, modern masters and new media film. All three open Saturday.
“Fragile Waters,” features more than 119 black-and-white photographs by three well-known, environmentally-conscious artists: Ansel Adams, Ernest H. Brooks II and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly. The subject is water, and the message is that water is a vital but delicate resource that we need to take care of. Each of the artists has a strong sense of place, from Adams’ Yosemite photos to Brooks’ striking shots of Antarctica.
The nice thing about an exhibit such as this is that the viewer doesn’t need to know a lot about the artist to appreciate the work. We humans have an instant positive connection to water, and the stark black-and-whiteness of the photos makes a stunning case for water’s beauty, whether it’s found in salt marshes, rivers, waterfalls, rain clouds, ice, icebergs or oceans.
A second exhibit features works by three artists who explored painting in different modes and mediums during the first half of the 20th century. “Modern Masters from the Albright-Knox Gallery” features 52 works by Jean (Hans) Arp (1886-1966), Joan Miro (1893-1983), and Alexander Calder (1898-1976).
Hailing from different countries, the three nonetheless managed to meet in Paris — the creative center for surrealism at the time — where their new-age energies and ideas found common ground. They influenced each other’s works, provided commentary and support and bonded over discussions of surrealism.
Calder, the American in the group, was a painter, poet, essayist and sculptor who is best known for his delicately balanced kinetic sculptures, called mobiles. The suspended parts move in response to air currents or, sometimes, by a motor. One of Calder’s mobiles was on loan at TMA for a time, hanging in the atrium. Calder also constructed stationary sculptures, called stabiles.
Miro, a Spanish painter, sculptor and ceramicist deliberately arranged objects in isolation on the canvas, creating a composition of details and parts.
Arp was a German-French sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist whose favorite media was torn and pasted paper. A member of the surrealist movement in Paris in 1925, he broke with that group in the 1930s to found the Abstraction-Creation group. The museum will feature a mixture of Arp’s sculptures and prints in the exhibit.
‘SEA OF TRANQUILLITY’
The third exhibit is a 30-minute video designed by Belgium-basded visual artist Hans Op de Beeck. Called “Sea of Tranquillity,” the video uses live recordings and actors as well as digitally-created three-dimensional environments to imagine a possible voyage on this eponymous, fictitious cruise liner. The 44-year old artist got the idea for the project when he spent some time in 2008 in Saint-Nazaire, France, a town that is known for its shipyards and for producing some of the world’s largest cruise liners. The video is accompanied by a variety of music; the central jazz song in it was composed by de Beeck.
The Tampa Museum of Art, 120 Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa; Oct. 5 through Jan 19; $10 adults; $7.50 seniors; $5 students; free for children age 6 and younger; (813) 274-8130 and www.tampamuseum.org.