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Tampa Museum of Art transforms into NYC for City event

By Maggie Duffy, Times Staff Writer
Tampa Museum of Art
“Queen of New York City nightlife” Susanne Bartsch is the subject of an exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art.

The Tampa Museum of Art will transform into a mini New York City on Saturday night, when it hosts City, its art and fashion fundraising gala that spotlights fashion icon Susanne Bartsch. Bartsch is a muse to many world-famous designers — including Alexander McQueen and Thierry Mugler — which is celebrated in the museum's Art-a-Porter exhibit that's currently on display.

HER INFLUENTIAL LOOK

Known as the "queen of New York City nightlife," Bartsch broke onto the NYC fashion scene in the 1980s via London, when she opened a boutique that gave early exposure to Vivienne Westwood and Leigh Bowery.

Bartsch's bold, innovative personal style reflects her lifestyle as an event producer in the underground nightclub scene, where getting ready to go out involves creating a piece of wearable art that could transform into any number of personas. Makeup and hair are crucial to achieving these transformations. Lady Gaga has clearly been influenced by her iconic style.

THE DESIGNERS

While Bartsch won't have her own designs in City, she will be in attendance and has selected eight designers she has inspired to showcase. In keeping with Bartsch's aesthetic, you can expect to be blown away by the avant-garde creations of Muffinhead, inventive uses of latex by Reneé Masoomian and surrealist ensembles from Casey Caldwell.

PERFORMANCE ART

Instead of a runway show, the lobby of the museum will be transformed into several vignettes for each designer, where models will interact in a performance art style. This concept came from Jorge Fernandez, a set designer and art director, along with Susan Johnson. They were tapped to help design the exhibit and the gala. Bartsch has been extremely involved with the entire process, and even suggested that they find unconventional models, who were found in Ybor City clubs.

BARTSCHLAND

Bartsch is bringing Club Kids from New York City to attend the after-party, called Bartschland. Fernandez and Johnson have fabricated a set to recreate Bartsch's legendary parties, and New York DJ Amber Valentine will perform. A ticket just for Bartschland is $50, which includes an open bar and light bites.

THE DETAILS

The "Art-a-Porter" exhibit won't be open for viewing during City, but will remain on display through Nov. 12. City is 8-10 p.m. Saturday, with Bartschland immediately following from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. A special VIP cocktail hour happens at 7 p.m. $125 general admission includes hors d'oeuvres, an open bar and admission to the after-party; $250 VIP. tampamuseum.org.