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Art shines on Tampa

TAMPA — The Big Turn-On comes to downtown Tampa on Saturday with Lights on Tampa, an ambitious arts project that last illuminated the city in 2006.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., building facades in the southeast area of downtown will be swathed in five light-based installations ranging from photographic projections to animation, using both low- and high-tech systems created by seven artists, most with international reputations. All works, which were underwritten by the city of Tampa and corporate sponsors, will remain until Feb. 1, and some are permanent installations, as are two from 2006, included in the event, by Stephen Knapp and Tobey Archer.

Worth noting is that the three jurors who selected the artists are a very distinguished trio: Jerry Saltz, art critic for New York magazine and formerly of the Village Voice; Anne Pasternak, who has a long history in the arts nationally and is director of Creative Time, a public arts organization; and Dave Hickey, a writer, critic, professor and recipient of a MacArthur Genius award. They no doubt played a large part in gathering an impressive roster of participants.

A new component of Lights on Tampa is Satellites in the nearby Channel District, a collaboration of 11 bay area artists who created videos curated by University of South Florida faculty members Wendy Babcox and Shawn Cheatham.

Dark times these may be, but go and experience a light-filled night for free and see the bright, transformative power of art.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at lennie@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8293.

if you go

2009 Lights on Tampa art and artists

The art installations are at locations in downtown Tampa (see map) from 5:30 p.m. to midnight beginning Saturday through Feb. 1. Satellites is at Channel District locations through Jan. 14. Free. lightsontampa.org.

Tonight: There's a free artist symposium from 4 to 6 at the Tampa Theatre,
711 W Franklin St., Tampa.

1 Revamp Fort Brooke by Casa Magica will be the first switch flipped at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Friedrich Forster and Sabine Weissinger, artists based in Germany who work under the title Casa Magica, will cover the exterior of the Fort Brooke parking garage with a collage of still images that rotate in a continuous loop.

2 Tampa Bay Living Waters by Carlton Ward Jr. is a collection of large-scale photographs by the Florida artist and environmentalist shown on LED screens in the windows of the former Tampa Bay History Center.

3 Ecstatic City (Tampa) by New Yorker Chris Doyle wraps the Tampa Convention Center entry and surrounding walkways, as well as the adjacent HART Transportation Center, in kaleidoscopic light from 68 large, rotating mirrored balls.

4 Tampa Public Mood Ring by Will Pappenheimer and Chipp Jansen at Cotanchobee Park is an interactive installation featuring a huge lit sculpture resembling a football whose color changes in response to comments from online viewers about recent football news. Pappenheimer has created similar works, but this is a special homage to the upcoming Super Bowl.

5 Slurb by Marina Zurkow is an 18-minute animated video that will be shown at the St. Pete Times Forum. It's a satiric narrative about a world engulfed in toxic seas ruled by jellyfish.

6 Luminous Affirmations by Stephen Knapp is a permanent installation from the 2006 Lights on Tampa event, on the Municipal Office Building. The cluster of light and glass resembles a bunch of birds of paradise or origami flowers.

7 Marquee by Tobey Archer is also a permanent installation from 2006 and features multicolored fiber optic lights wrapped around the rooflines of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Express your mood

Everyone is encouraged to participate in the Tampa Public Mood Ring Project by selecting a mood and leaving a comment on a special Web site. Find a link to the project at tampabay.com/superbowl. At right is a rendering of Tampa Public Mood Ring.

BACK TO BASICS

Artist tries to make us look at world in a different light

Chris Doyle, one of seven artists commissioned for Lights on Tampa 2009, has made multimillion-dollar installations using expensive video and electronic equipment on sites worldwide. Ecstatic City (Tampa) cost about $100,000 and is purposefully low tech. "It's as basic as you get," he says, "mirrors and light."

The artist lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., but spends a lot of time on the road. He has been in Tampa for several weeks installing 68 motorized mirror balls, from 16 to 40 inches in diameter, onto the ceiling of the Tampa Convention Center portico and the palm trees that line the entrance to it, as well as in the HART transportation center across the street. When lit and revolving, they will cast a glow of fractured light onto the walls and sidewalks.

Like the other artists in Lights on Tampa, Doyle does more than create a beautiful atmospheric effect. He believes in art's ability to change the way we inhabit a space, to heighten our perceptions. The work's name references Baroque period art, which was characterized by high emotion and sensuality, often associated with a sense of religious ecstasy. Getting that response from 21st century viewers, more attuned to ironic response, isn't easy, Doyle knows. "It's fleeting and elusive and feels impossible," he says. "But it's worth aiming for."

Lennie Bennett

Art shines on Tampa 01/06/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 8, 2009 7:21am]
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