POST THANKSGIVING: FILL YOUR MIND
You might not read this until late in the day, during football game commercials, and that's okay since arts venues are closed today. But there's tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, as Shakespeare wrote, and I suggest you pause during your holiday busyness for a restorative break. You know of what I speak: a visit to a gallery or art museum. Those who frequent them understand. Looking at art is both a literal act of standing still and a mental act of discovery. I always leave such encounters feeling better regardless of how rotten I had felt before.
TAMPA MUSEUM OF ART: OLD IS NEWER
Our regional art museums have some terrific big shows right now, most ending their runs in January, so go sooner rather than later. They also have smaller shows, and one I recommend is "Echoes of Antiquity" at the Tampa Museum of Art.
The majority of the works in it are from the permanent collection, rarely displayed, because gallery space is usually occupied by special exhibitions. Curator Seth Pevnick, an antiquities expert, used the museum's excellent collection, which always has a dedicated gallery, as inspiration. He pulled more recent works from storage that have a visual allusions to ancient Greek and Roman art, some obvious, others subtle. It's a fun show but also bridges what is often a great divide for visitors to the museum who have no graceful transition between the antiquities gallery and the modern art routinely stocking next-door galleries. And because you can see parts of each show from the other gallery, it gives you an instant now-then experience.
In the obvious category are sculptures by Peter Saari, known for his reinventions of ancient art such as the 1979 trompe l'oeil "fragment" that mimics wall and floor paintings of early Rome. As is the marble bust of a Greek slave (1849) by neoclassical sculptor Hiram Powers. It's accompanied by photographs of the artist with a similar statue that includes the female's body. It was so popular that he reproduced it for more collectors and then created busts that were more affordable.
In the 1930s, Pablo Picasso appropriated the Minotaur — part man, part bull in Greek mythology — as his alter ego during his Classical Period. His most famous use of it was in his monumental 1937 painting, Guernica. The artist as Minotaur is represented in this show by a 1935 etching which prefigures some imagery in the later painting.
Philip Pearlstein playfully paints a ceramic vessel (1994) in the style of the ancients. Duncan McClellan also mimics those vessels with one in glass (2007), carved with four dancing satyrs who frolic as they drink wine, spill it, play a pipe and eat grapes.
The 1990 lithograph by Nancy Graves isn't as overt. In her colorful roundup of images, we time-travel to ancient Egypt with a falcon and those profiles of people found on temple walls; to classical antiquity with the suggestion of curving vessels and to the Renaissance with a purple version of Michelangelo's hand of God in the Sistine Chapel.
Remembering my visit to this show, I feel better already.
The exhibition at the Tampa Museum of Art, 120 Gasparilla Plaza (next to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park), continues through Jan. 24. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 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.
GO NOW: CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM, USF
"A Family Affair" at the museum at the University of South Florida's Contemporary Art Museum closes Dec. 12 so you really need to hustle on over. Curator Megan Voeller gathered and commissioned work by seven artists who document or fictionalize families through many interpretations. A lively and stirring show, it includes photography, video, performance and animation. The museum is on Holly Drive on the north side of the campus, accessed from Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. Free. (813) 974-2489. usfcam.usf.edu.