MONUMENTAL: JAUME PLENSA AT TMA
This is a big show in every sense of the word. Jaume Plensa is one of the world's finest and most famous artists working in public spaces. His enormous figurative sculptures, clean and serene of line, belie complex conceptual ideas. An exhibition of his work opens at the Tampa Museum of Art on Sunday and will be one of 2016's must-see exhibitions. His work will be seen in the museum's galleries but sculptures installed outside and in the atrium, on view to everyone with admission or not, are a gift to the community from the museum.
The museum, 120 W Gasparilla Plaza (next to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park), Tampa, is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with extended hours to 8 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $15 adults, $7.50 seniors, Florida educators and active military and $5 students. Children younger than 6 free. (813) 274-8130. tampamuseum.org.
WARRIORS: SAMURAI AT THE RINGLING
War is never romantic but its accessories can, over time, become so. At least in the case of the samurai, the Japanese noble class of military officers who became obsolete with the advent of Western influences, especially in modern warfare. Part of the emotional appeal of this lost way of life is that everything had meaning and was part of a larger ritual. An exhibition at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art presents us with the samurai wardrobe and weapons along with depictions of their lifestyle in "Samurai: The Way of the Warrior,” which continues through April 17. The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours Thursday to 8 p.m. Admission, which also includes Ca d'Zan and the Circus Museum, is $25 adults, $20 seniors and $5 students with ID and youths 6 to 17. Admission to the art museum only is free on Mondays. (941) 359-5700. ringling.org.
JOINT SHOWS: MOREAN ARTS CENTER AND FLORIDA CRAFTART
I hope everyone reading this can remember with gratitude at least one person who influenced your life positively through teaching and/or mentoring. I am fortunate to have a long list. A joint show celebrating those relationships is on view at the Morean Arts Center and Florida CraftArt, a nice collaboration as they are separated only by a block of Central Avenue. "Role Models" features 45 ceramic artists both regional and from across the United States who have played both roles. The exhibition at the Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., and Florida CraftArt, 501 Central Ave., both in St. Petersburg, is free at each venue and continues through Feb. 20. Morean hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. moreanartscenter.org or (727) 822-7871. CraftArt hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. (727) 821-7391. floridacraftart.org.
TAMPA BAY HISTORY CENTER: SOUVENIR MEMORIES
Florida has always had well-documented moments and characters of an unusual nature. "Bringing Home the Sunshine" at the Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water St., Tampa, is full of the kitsch and cornball images that tempted tourists to the Sunshine State and tempted them further with kitschy, cornball souvenirs. The exhibition draws primarily from the center's archives and those of University of South Florida. Also on view are Florida Highwayman Robert Butler's final painting before his death in 2014 and vintage-inspired prints of local tourist attractions and landmarks by Tim Boatright. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12.95 adults; $10.95 seniors, students with ID and youths 13 to 17, and $7.95 kids 4 to 12. Kids under 4, free. (813) 675-8985. tampabayhistorycenter.org.