Kelly Stevens wants people to be surprised when they come to this weekend's Nude Nite, an art show devoted to the naked human body.
But she will reveal this much: "It's sexy, it's beautiful and it shows off Tampa's artists like no other show."
Stevens created Nude Nite in 1997 in Orlando to give artists and patrons a fresh, unique art show experience. Last year, she expanded the annual show to Tampa.
This year's Nude Nite features more than 130 artists, up significantly from last year's event, which drew 3,000 visitors over three days. The show transforms the Tampa Armature Works building along the Hillsborough River into a colorful foreign bazaar with jugglers, body painters and stilt walkers.
Artists represent all types of art, from photography, sculpture, wood, metal, mixed media, digital and performance, including baroque paintings with live nude subjects and human statues in revealing dress. Watercolor painter Kevin "Chopper" Peshkepia creates a sexy story of The Wizard of Oz. Miss Polly Wood and Shanghai Pearl of Seattle perform burlesque shows at 9, 10 and 11 p.m. each night.
"Around every corner is another surprise," Stevens said. "I want people to have that 'aha!' moment and say, 'This is really great.' "
Anyone who buys art receives a Nude Nite Forever pass for free admission to the Tampa or Orlando show every year. Pieces start at $175.
Organizers created the show in a vacant warehouse that once housed Tampa's original trolley cars. It's part of the Heights, a massive redevelopment plan to add new homes and commercial space along the Hillsborough River.
Stevens considers the gritty waterfront site just north of downtown a perfect fit for the show, which attracts fans looking for edgy art in a hip atmosphere. If successful, Nude Nite could make its permanent home there.
"Art shows are kind of quickly evolving into the new bar, the new meetup, the new girls‑night‑out place," Stevens said. "Purchasing electronics is being replaced by purchasing art because it's a personal expression of your taste and who you are."