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Fall Art Preview: Tampa Bay museums explore political tensions, celebrate local art

By Maggie Duffy, Times Staff Writer
Courtesy of Mernet Larsen and James Cohan, New York
Tampa Museum of art: Mernet Larsen, Raft, 2017, acrylic and mixed media on canvas.

As we look at what's to come for Tampa Bay's art institutions, it's easy to reflect on the role art plays in our community.

Tampa Bay is home to so many working artists. This year's "Skyway: A Contemporary Collaboration" exhibition gave great exposure to artists hailing from Pinellas to Hillsborough to Sarasota counties, in three major institutions. It's good news that some major museums will continue to include local artists. It's also good news that the collections weathered the threats and action from Hurricane Irma.

In politically divided times such as these, art is more important than ever. Art is reflective of the zeitgeist, and you'll find upcoming exhibits that address many of our divisive issues: borders, war, flags, racism, even our ever-changing relationship with Cuba. Art is often provocative and in being so, can activate change, or at least open up dialogues.

And of course, art can also be a refuge from the real world, or a reminder of the world's beauty and wonder. This season, escape through costumes from Star Wars, journey through the world of a contemporary surrealist, become exposed to a new medium that pushes boundaries of the imagination, or observe a peaceful act when Tibetan monks create a mandala.

In addition to all of the new work inside museums, the Shine Mural Festival has already returned to the streets and walls of St. Petersburg, bringing more local, national and international street artists and muralists to leave marks on the 'Burg. Artists include Cryptik (Los Angeles), Joram Roukes (Netherlands) and Jujmo (Tampa). Take a guided bike tour of the murals through Tour-de-Shine on Oct. 9 and Oct. 29. To mark the festival's grand finale Oct. 14, the "Outside In" exhibit will feature large-scale interactive installations from artists including Ricky Watts, James Oleson and Yok and Sheryo; an exhibition of work by local and national artists; and a Carmada of artist-painted cars.

Here's what to look forward to in visual art this fall and beyond.


Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg; (727) 896-2667;

"Mickett-Stackhouse: Confluence"
Ongoing through Feb. 4
A showcase of work by Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse, who have been collaborating to produce large-scale sculpture, paintings, and prints from more than 10 years.

"Star Wars and the Power of Costume"
Nov. 11-April 1
In what's sure to be a wildly popular exhibit, the Smithsonian's traveling show presents 60 of the finest hand-crafted costumes from the first seven films in the Star Wars series, culled from the collection of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

"Gregg Perkins: Sunshine City"
Vintage postcards of old time St. Petersburg are iconic, so it's little wonder that a 1930 E.G. Barnhill postcard of the skyline inspired Perkins' multimedia exhibition, which explores cultural narratives. Using animation and digital photography programs, Perkins updates the tourist postcard to reflect the changing skyline of the city.

"Moon Museum: Art and Outer Space"
Featuring Forrest Myers' 1967 project in which drawings from artists including Andy Warhol were printed on tiny ceramic tiles, then affixed to Apollo 12's landing module, which remained on the moon. Copies of the tiles will be on display.

"Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today"
May 5-Aug. 5
Showcases a diverse range of nonrepresentational expression from 20 women artists. Each artist was chosen for her ability to convey personal iconography and universal themes through abstraction. Includes a number of pieces from celebrated African-American artists, including Chakaia Booker and Mavis Pusey.


Dalí Museum
1 Dalí Blvd., St. Petersburg; (727) 823-3767;

"Dreams of Dalí"
Ongoing indefinitely
The award-winning virtual reality experience takes you on a 360 degree journey through Salvador Dalí's painting Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet's "Angelus."

"Dalí and Schiaparelli"
Oct. 18-Jan. 14
The first-ever retrospective of Dalí's relationship with designer Elsa Schiaparelli will include haute couture gowns and accessories, jewelry, paintings, drawings, objects and photos, as well as new designs by Bertrand Guyon for Maison Schiaparelli.

The exhibition finds common ground between Marcel Duchamp and Dalí. It will be fun to see, among the 60 works included, not only Dalí's highly technical paintings and Duchamp's celebrated assemblages and ready-mades, but also lesser-known collaborations between the two resulting from their unlikely friendship.


Tampa Museum of Art
120 Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa; (813) 274-8130;

"Photorealism: 50 Years of Hyperrealistic Painting"
Ongoing through Oct. 22
The exhibit traces the genre from 1960 to today. Includes photorealism heavyweights such as Chuck Close, Richard Estes and Audrey Flack.

"Susanne Bartsch: Art-a-Porter"
Ongoing through Nov. 12
Step into the world and wardrobe of Bartsch, an event producer and muse to world class designers, including Thierry Mugler, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. View the couture designs and looks worn by New York's famed "Queen of the Night."

"Mernet Larsen: Getting Measured, 1957-2017"
Oct. 11-Feb. 11
Paintings and works on paper by the longtime Tampa resident and former professor of painting at the University of South Florida. Her work alludes to historical references, and explores experiential time, space and color. The exhibition will feature never-before-seen drawings from her student days, a select group of studies and works on paper and a survey of paintings from the 1960s to present.

"Made in Tampa: Permanent Collection Artworks From the 1970s to Now"
Nov. 2-April 1
Features Tampa-themed works by Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Richard Anuszkiewicz and others who have worked in the city at various times in their careers. Work from artists Donald Saff, Theo Wujcik and others who worked closely with more famous luminaries throughout the 1970s, '80s and '90s are also included.

"Skyway Curators' Choice"
Nov. 2-April 1
Inspired by the excellent artwork shown at all three venues of this summer's "Skyway: A Contemporary Collaboration," the Tampa Museum of Art has committed to show additional artwork by a Skyway artist chosen by the five exhibition curators. Artists exhibiting in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota will all be considered for Skyway Curators' Choice.

"Skyway Audience Choice"
Dec. 1-April 1
"Skyway: A Contemporary Collaboration" also let the public vote on a favorite artist. The winner will receive a solo exhibition at the museum, with pieces chosen by Skyway curators.


Florida Museum of Photographic Arts
400 N Ashley Drive, Tampa; (813) 221-2222;

"Under the Cuban Sun"
Ongoing through Dec. 31
Go on a visual trip through Cuba's history in this exhibition of 42 photos of the island from 1933 to 2015, curated by the Throckmorton Fine Art gallery in New York.

"United Photographic Artists Gallery Exhibition"
Oct. 27-Nov. 24
View the works of emerging photographic artists from the United States and Europe.

Annual Photography Benefit Sale
Nov. 27-Jan. 31
Featuring work by local artists and museum members.

"Chris Buck: The Magnificent Hurt"
Jan. 26-March 16
Celebrity portrait photographer Chris Buck puts some of the world's most famous people into a multitude of humorously twisted situations.

"Our Living Past"
Tim Duffy immortalizes Southern musicians in this collection, taken over the past 35 years.

"Family Acid"
Jan. 26-March 16
Curator Kate Steffens presents iconic images of her family's unorthodox life in the 1960s.

"Poultry Suite"
Jan. 26-March 16
Jean Pagliuso, who began her career as a fashion photographer, uses her formal training in portraiture to capture unique glamor shots of more than 30 different chicken breeds.

"Andrea Modica: Minor League"
March 23-June 15
Modica explores the human level of minor league sports: its hard work, fierce ambition and the essential but slim hope of making it to the major leagues.

"M.K. Foltz"
March 23-June 15
Selected landscapes and portraits taken by Tampa's photographer laureate.

"Cathy Dutertre: Quest"
May 1-31
Ethereal self-portraits that probe the fragmented and shadowy space of dreams, repressed or time-altered memories and Dutertre's personal history.


John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota; (941) 359-5700;

"Aftermath: The Fallout of War — America and the Middle East"
Oct. 15-Jan. 21
The atrocities of war are images we've all gotten used to seeing, but having the filter of an artist's lens brings the emotional impact to the forefront. In this exhibit, artists active in the United States and Middle East depict the conditions and people caught in the crossfire of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine and Israel from a variety of perspectives.

"Approaching the Border"
Nov. 5.-Jan. 21
Features video works by five international artists that challenge thinking about the United States-Mexico border, the reemergence of nationalism and the symbolism of borders.

"Alfred Eisenstaedt: Defining Moments"
Nov. 18-March 18
Get a feel for the groundbreaking and historically significant career and work of Eisenstaedt, a luminary of American photojournalism who reported for the Associated Press and had a nearly 40 year career as a photographer for Life magazine.

"Toni Dove: Embodied Machines"
Feb. 25-May 20
If the title sounds technological, it's because it is. Dove's pioneering work is a hybrid of live performance, interactive narrative and virtual reality. Her projects examine histories of consumer culture and advanced capitalism through the relationships between individuals, avatars, technology and cyber-landscapes. This exhibition will present objects from these projects as well as interactive environments and video work. Dove will present live performances on March 9 and April 13-14.


University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum
3821 Holly Drive, Tampa; (813) 974-2849;

"Pledges of Allegiance"
Ongoing through July
This public art project of artist-designed flags has been open since July. Creative Time's nationwide project aims for a sense of community among cultural institutions. They'll rotate the flags periodically. Currently, it's Robert Longo's Untitled (Dividing Time).

"David Claerbout"
Ongoing through Oct. 28
This exhibition of film and photography from the Belgian artist manipulates still and moving images to confuse the concept of time.

"James Rosenquist: Tampa"
Nov. 13-Dec. 9
The renowned pop artist, who died in March, lived and worked in the Tampa Bay area for more than four decades. The exhibit features editions of Rosenquist prints produced at the print atelier Graphicstudio, and access to privately held paintings, drawings and support materials along with prints produced at three Tampa Bay area ateliers.

"Climate Change: Cuba/USA"
Jan. 12-March 3
Not the hot-button issue you're thinking of; in this case, climate change refers to the changing relationship of Cuba and the United States, told through the points of view of both Cuban and American artists.


Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art
600 Klosterman Road, Tarpon Springs; (727) 712-5762;

"Rattner's Contemporaries in Paris"
Ongoing through June 17
Abraham Rattner lived and worked in Paris during the creative heyday of the 1920s and '30s, alongside art superstars. The exhibition showcases how Parisian artists of the time influenced Rattner's works, and features pieces by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger and Joan Miró.

"Fall Into Greatness: LRMA Celebrates 15 Years"
Oct. 8-Dec. 30
The second installment of the museum's anniversary celebration features work inspired by autumn, including never-before-seen pieces and recent acquisitions and pieces by Picasso, Christopher Still and Dale Chihuly.

"Fall Into Greatness: Prints From the Jim and Martha Sweeny Collection"
Oct. 8-Dec. 30
The museum unveils its recent acquisition of 14 fine art prints, a gift from Jim and Martha Sweeny. Includes a cross-section of major contemporary printmakers including Louisa Chase, Brad Davis and Thornton Dial.

"Habits & Habitats: Inside the Artist's Studio With Abraham Rattner"
Oct. 8-April 15
The second installment of the Habits & Habitats series offers an immersive installation of Rattner's studio, featuring original drawings and studies from the museum's archives that shed light on Rattner's approach.

"Elemental: Fine Crafts from the Collection"
Oct. 8-Sept. 15, 2019
The installation of sculptural works from the permanent collection is based on the classical elements of the ancient Chinese tradition: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Contemporary fine craft works in jewelry, decorative arts, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and paper are the perfect vehicles for the theme.

"Internal Landscapes: The Mysterious World of Steven Kenny"
Jan. 21-April 15
When surrealist painter Steven Kenny arrived on the Tampa Bay art scene, people responded to his oil paintings that handle the human figure with the touch of a Renaissance master. His symbolic and surrealist juxtaposition of the human figure with elements of nature will be featured in about 40 paintings, including new acquisition The Carriage.

"Let's Get Surreal: Works on Paper"
Jan. 21-April 15
Speaking of surrealism, this exhibit explores the movement through printmaking by artists including Dalí and Stanley William Hayter.

"Selina Román: A Liminal State"
April 29-Sept. 23
New photographs by the Tampa artist explore qualities of Florida through retro hotel rooms and other locales. As a follow to her "Please Disturb" exhibit at the museum, one gallery will be transformed into a Florida motel room.

"Rattner and Surrealism"
July 1, 2018-July 7, 2019
Back in 1930s Paris, Rattner experimented with surrealism. Explores his foray, and includes works by surrealists Marc Chagall, Dalí and Joan Miro.


Polk Museum of Art
800 E Palmetto St., Lakeland; (863) 688-7743;

"Status: Fluid Dynamic"
Ongoing through Dec. 10
Showcases the work of Jason Myers, a multidisciplinary American artist whose layered works incorporate steel, resin and computer-generated prints.

"Bill Rutherfoord: Allegory of No Region"
Ongoing through Dec. 10
The culmination of a project over eight years involving 11 paintings. The colorful, large scale paintings reclaim the character Br'er Rabbit, and interweave narrative, symbol and form.

"Faces in the Crowd: Perspectives on American Figuration from the New Permanent Collection"
Ongoing through Dec. 17
The second in a series of exhibitions showcasing the museum's latest acquisitions of figurative American art, including paintings, drawing, printmaking and sculpture.

"Bound Ascension: The Sculpture of Gino Miles"
Ongoing through Jan. 14
Working in both monumental and small sculptures since the 1970s, Miles utilizes bronze and steel to create abstract sculptures, many kinetic.

"Renoir: Les Etude"
Dec. 26-March 11
Features 11 graphic works by impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir.


Florida CraftArt
501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 821-7391;

"Ya La'ford: Glyphs"
Jan. 12-20
See the muralist transform the gallery into a labyrinthine space.

"Sacred Art Tour"
Jan. 30-Feb. 4
The Tibetan Monks return to the gallery to create their astounding sand mandala.

"Lightheaded: New Directions in Fine Craft Lighting"
Feb. 9-March 24
Art you can live with, curated by Mary Anna Murphy and glass artist Catherine Woods.

"Dia de los Muertos: Celebration of Life"
April 6-May 26
Curated by artist Mark Noll, artists interpret the treasured Mexican holiday.


Dunedin Fine Art Center
1143 Michigan Blvd., Dunedin; (727) 298-3322;

"Pulp Fiction"
Ongoing through Dec. 24
An exhibition of book-inspired art featuring printmaker/zine artist Coralette Damme, mixed media guru and author Denis Gaston, and muralist/sketchbook artist Daniel Mrgan.

"Le Papier"
Ongoing through Dec. 24
Works on and of paper by seven contemporary artists, including Eva Avenue and Laine Nixon, and the pulp paintings of master printer and papermaker Roland Poska, who died earlier this year.

"Big Eyes"
Jan. 13-Feb. 18
Pop culture paintings from artists in response to a call, with the work of Margaret Keane as inspiration.

"43rd Annual International Miniature Art Exhibition"
Jan. 13-Feb. 18
The Miniature Art Society of Florida presents its annual exhibition of 2-D and 3-D miniature art from around the globe.

"Triangulate: Close-up From Faraway"
June 8-Aug. 8
International photography exchange among artists in Norway, China and the United States.

"Michael Massaro"
June 8-Aug. 8
Sculptural installation with unconventional materials provoking social and cultural meditations.

Morean Arts Center
719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 822-7872;

"Casey McDonough and Kenny Jensen"
Ongoing through Oct. 29
"Two artists probing the analogous and infinitely related structures of our universe," per the center's description.

"Bryce Hammond: Structure"
Ongoing through Oct. 29
Hammond takes an anthropological approach, exploring human presence in man-made environments through observation of poverty culture.

"Josette Urso: More Than Before"
Ongoing through Oct. 29
Urso's paintings, drawings and collages manipulate space.


Morean Center for Clay
420 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg; (727) 821-7162;

"Jeremy Randall Solo Show"
Oct. 14-Nov. 30
The ceramic artist makes vessels that look like distressed metal.

"There's Something in the Atmosphere (Florida Heat Wood Fire)"
Dec. 9-Jan. 31
The international, juried show features ceramics that are wood, salt or soda fired.


Chihuly Collection
700 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 896-4527;

"Ethan Stern: Inscribing Surfaces"
Oct. 28-Jan. 31
Stern makes glass vessels that he intentionally designs, through carving, to hold light.