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Show highlights artists on the fringe

Roger Chamieh’s work is titled Vector Z.

Handout photo

Roger Chamieh’s work is titled Vector Z.

Call their art cutting edge or obscure, these artists don't mind if their work doesn't appeal to the masses or look good over a living room couch.

They're just fine being on the fringe.

To highlight their work, supporters of the Tampa Museum of Art have put together a one-night exhibit of fringe art by Roger Chamieh, Kendra Frorup, Mernet Larsen and Lisa Scholder.

Event organizer Cat Pafford said Friday's show is a play off the museum exhibit, the American Impressionists in the Garden. Fringe artists are the modern equivalent of late 19th-century impressionist painters.

"They were really groundbreakers in art,'' said Pafford, a board member of Friends of the Museum. "Impressionists had to go off and start their own movement. It was derogatory to call them impressionists.''

The show, titled Fringe, will include pieces from each artist, from Larsen's geometric paintings to Chamieh's installation depicting a vacuum cleaner and inflatable doll parts. Artists will speak about their works and the role of experimental art, in general. The hope is that by exposing more people to nontraditional art, they will come to understand and appreciate it.

"It's a process that takes time,'' said Chamieh, an adjunct professor at the University of Tampa and Hillsborough Comunity College. "We all know that we what don't understand, we seem to be afraid of. It's a question of opening one's mind.''

To him, that process starts with explaining his creative process, which begins with an idea and changes over time.

"It's all about mutation. It doesn't come out thin air,'' he said. "It comes from doing work.''

Fortunately, not everyone has to be interested in every type of art, said Larsen, comparing it to literature and poetry.

A 35-year retired painting professor at the University of South Florida, Larsen describes experimental art as an natural evolution for many artists already technically skilled in still lifes and portraits. Moving toward the fringe can actually be more difficult, even if the result might seem simplistic or puzzling to the mainstream.

"Is what the majority wants going to be your guide for your behavior?'' she said. "As an artist you try to work with integrity and do things that are really interesting and worthwhile if people took the trouble.''

Chamieh cautions against creating art just because it sells. Instead, he makes art based on his own life experiences and feelings at the moment.

Take his installation with baby doll arms and legs that inflate. Bizarre at first glance, it reflects his daughter when she was a baby thrusting her hands and feet at him.

"My work doesn't haven't to be accessible to the general public,'' he said. "I'm making my art for myself.''

Art on the edge

The exhibit Fringe runs from 8 p.m. to midnight Friday at the Tampa Museum of Art, 120 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. Admission is free for Friends of the Museum, $5 for museum members and $10 for nonmembers. Call (813) 274-8130 or go to

Show highlights artists on the fringe 10/07/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 1:50pm]
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