Ah, spring, bursting with procreative activity. Flowers, etc. And somewhere in those trees sprouting bushels of new green leaves, baby birds are hatching in their nests. You, walking under them, are probably noticing an uptick in dive-bomb assaults by their protective mothers. (Mockingbirds seem especially assertive.) • Remove yourself from harm's way and visions of Tippi Hedron wedged in a phone booth watching seagulls line up. • Go inside, to three art galleries offering new shows devoted to the natural world, air-conditioned flora and fauna with no threat of avian attack. • Check them out. Lennie Bennett, Times art critic
Clayton Galleries, 4105 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, claytongalleries.net or (813) 831-3753
Cathy Clayton has one of the oldest galleries in the area, open since 1987, and she consistently has some of the best shows of contemporary art that is both interesting and accessible.
"Flux" features oil paintings by Kathy Wright, a young artist who majored in architecture at Harvard but chose fine art as a career. She seems to be claiming the middle ground in her landscapes, somewhere between abstraction and realism. She has plenty of time to figure it out, but these works presage a long career we'll enjoy watching unfold.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Free.
. Etchings by John Costin
TECO Public Art Gallery, 702 N Franklin St., Tampa, (813) 767-1600
Traditionalists will love Costin's large, hand-colored prints of birds indigenous to Florida. They'll remind you of John James Audubon's etchings.
Making an etching is laborious work. Costin hand-engraves the images on copper plates — sometimes up to five for a single print — that are then inked and rolled through a press. After that, he applies thinned oil paint to them. Happily, Costin, unlike Audubon, does not kill and pose his subjects. At the moment, he's working in the Everglades, from life.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Free.
, Leslie Fry: Clearing the Path
Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art, 1419 Fifth St., Sarasota, miramararts.com or (941) 366-2093
Fry is a conceptual artist who stays well within the boundaries of credibility. Meaning you question and get her work simultaneously. She casts lots of stuff (a good catch-all word here) to construct her bas relief sculptures that, in this series especially, are like archaeological digs. The overt message is one of demolition and destruction, but the implication is that new life always follows death in the natural world. Somehow, the art conveys hope rather than grimness.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Free.