Let's be clear: the Contemporary Art Museum does NOT condone violence.
So why the smash-up at their mash-up tonight?
For art, of course.
The University of South Florida museum, located on its Tampa campus, has always been a bastion of cerebral high art and nothing is changing. The opening party for "MashUp," its new exhibition, includes an installation by hot (and cool) artist Pedro Reyes that addresses the issue of random violence with a mechanism for taming it. Channel the rage into an acceptable form of self-expression. Smash a guitar!
[Art history alert!] Reyes isn't being glib or simplistic here; he's referencing a crowd-rousing, de rigueur gesture at the end of rock concerts that has its roots in post-World War II European performance art. Few fans at rock concerts would know or care about that historical footnote but it gives gravitas to Reyes' and other artists' work in the show, which was organized by curator Jade Dellinger . [There, that wasn't so bad, was it?]
Reyes has crafted 180 flat guitar shapes from lightweight wood. Guests at the party select one along with a song to perform, karaoke-style, on a small stage. Then they are to smash or in some way destroy their "instrument." (Don't worry, the wood really is easily pulverized.) All will be video-recorded and the remnants of the "guitars" will remain as part of the installation for the exhibition's duration.
For the attention-averse, observers are also welcome.
The reception at the museum, 4202 E Fowler Ave. , Tampa, from 7 to 10 p.m., is free. (813) 974-2849 or ira.usf.edu.
Lennie Bennett, Times Art Critic
Kenny C and Miranda Lambert: Most of you fans have been waiting for this for months. But on the off chance that you just made a connection with someone who turned out to be a country music and fan and they're expecting you to shell out for tickets, here's the info: tonight at 7:30 at the Ford Amphitheatre, Interstate 4 at U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $41.75-$80. (813) 740-2446; livenation.com.
Gecko Fest Pub Crawl: A prelude to the big event on Saturday, this is fabulous excuse to start your Labor Day weekend after work. And it's for a good cause, because as you sample your way through 11 bars and restaurants with cocktails, libations and appetizers, it benefits St. Petersburg AIDS Walk. It costs $25 and starts at 4 p.m. in the downtown waterfront area of Gulfport.
Rhythm Eclectic: Ybor's Crowbar will be a night of hip hop and spoken word poetry that aims to elevate the art form. No thuggery here, organizers promise. It's all about the words and music of the artists who include The Underkatz Crew (Shady Rock, The Freshmen, Black To Da Future, Mic Deluxx, Ms.Kayeramel), and poets Wally B. and Liz Straight, the host of WMNF-FM 88.5's Poetry is... There will be two separate atmospheres of music, with hip hop dance music inside Crowbar and the outside patio will have jazz, lounge, funk, and R&B. The doors open at 9 p.m. at 1812 N 17th St. It's free for women 21 and older, all others are $5.
Dog Whisperer: 9 p.m., National Geographic When, oh when, will people learn that you need to walk your dog regularly, especially if it's the size of a compact car?
Grizzly Man Diaries: 9 p.m., Animal Planet An eight-part series about Timmy Treadwell, the crackpot who thought he could live among the bears and they wouldn't eat him. He was wrong.
Say Yes to the Dress: 10 p.m., TLC Stacey London has to be getting sick and tired of all these wedding porn shows that are taking over certain channels, especially on Friday nights, when they know brides-to-be are too broke, tired and exhausted to go out with friends.