TIME TO GASP: GASPARILLA FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
The big, bountiful 46th annual Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts takes over downtown Tampa Saturday and Sunday. Almost 250 artists will fill their white display tents with most media (no video, for example), and the top numbers are, in descending order, jewelry, painting and mixed media. The numbers can change in any given year depending on the quality of art submitted in any category, but it's also a reflection of what collectors love most. And if you're a lover of photography, wood sculptures or glass objects, not to worry: Plenty of those works will be on view, as well as much more media. The small sample here gives you an idea of the creativity.
The quality is high because of Gasparilla's reputation and its $74,500 in prize money, one of the largest prizes in the Southeast. The committee choosing the artists can be picky: They have about 1,000 applicants each year.
Its reputation also attracts top-tier professionals to judge the show. (My all time favorite was the late Robert Hughes.) This year the festival welcomes Brian J. Lang, curator of the corporate art collection at BNY Mellon. He oversees a large, international collection, some often lent to museums.
Next door at the Tampa Museum of Art is the fabulous Jaume Plensa exhibition and many of his monumental sculptures are on its terrace for all to enjoy, a festival bonus this year.
The location couldn't be better — the festival inhabits Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park off Ashley Drive overlooking the Hillsborough River. Weather predictions are good: moderate temperatures and no rain. No designated parking is available but you'll find parking garages and lots nearby.
An endearing component is the Art Collectors in Training. Artists donate hundreds of pieces of art that are displayed in a kids-only shopping zone. (Adults wait outside.) Everything is priced between $5 and $10, and with a purchase comes the artist's name and booth number so the young collector can meet the creator. Suggested ages are 6 to 14. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Also for kids is a hands-on area operated by the Tampa Museum that's free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. gasparillaarts.com.
SCARFONE/HARTLEY GALLERY: A TRIP TO NEVERLAND
No, this isn't Peter Pan. "Growing Up in Neverland" at the University of Tampa's Scarfone/Hartley Gallery offers a different alt-reality, the experience of becoming an artist in Cuba spanning a time period that includes pre- and post-revolution. Because of stringent restrictions, we haven't seen much modern and contemporary Cuban art, but that is going to change.
Six artists — Ernesto Leal, Pedro Pablo Oliva, Sandra Ramos, Lázaro Saavedra, Esterio Segura and José A. Vincench — and the collective known as the Merger will be represented. This isn't a static show — some of the artists will participate in gallery talks along with curator David Horta, and Saavedra will create a new work on site.
"Neverland" opens Friday at the gallery, 310 N Blvd., on the University of Tampa campus. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Free. (813) 253-6263. ut.edu/scarfonehartleygallery. The show continues through March 18.
DUNEDIN FINE ART CENTER: TRASHY TREASURES AND CONTAIN IT
These popular annual events return Friday and Saturday to the center, 1143 Michigan Blvd., Dunedin, and prove the adage that one person's trash is another's treasure. Trashy Treasures is actually high-level "trash," with people donating unwanted art and art supplies that are put up for sale for new owners. A silent auction is held Friday and anything remaining is part of a garage style sale Saturday.
Contain It provides artists with PODS (those storage containers) that they decorate. Visitors get a look-see inside them along with photo ops.
The fun begins at 6 p.m. Friday at a party with cash bar, live music and free hot dogs. Admission is $10. Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is free. dfac.org. (727) 298-3322.