Thursday, August 16, 2018
Arts

Lights on Tampa will sparkle with new art, performances

Lights! Camera phones! Action!

On Friday and Saturday, downtown Tampa will bask in the glow of Lights on Tampa, a free outdoor public art display that has become a signature event since its debut in 2006. This year's Lights will have seven installations and performances, all concentrated in the parks and riverfront off Ashley Drive, so the public can easily access all of them without a lot of walking.

The event has enjoyed such a reputation for creativity and innovation that it has attracted the attention of other cities considering replicating it, and representatives from several, including San Francisco, Atlanta and Chicago, are expected to come and see this year's displays, says Robin Nigh, manager of art programs for the city of Tampa.

Nigh says it's evolving into a "whole-arts platform" that includes music, dance, even the written word, though the focus remains on the dramatic light installations. She says Lights is also becoming more interactive, with "the overall theme this year being engagement."

For example, visitors can pick up variously shaped light boxes to make and remake fantastical constructions, play a monumental version of the carnival game High Striker and join in improvisational dancing projected onto large screens.

The Lights on Tampa budget for 2015 is about $500,000, Nigh says, with 50 percent from the city, 40 percent in private donations and 10 percent from grants. It's money well spent.

Here's the lineup.

'Urban Pixels' by Urban Conga of Tampa

Play with light boxes in tetrahedral shapes (think pyramids) scattered about in Curtis Hixon Park, meant to be arranged in groupings to create new forms. The installation, sponsored by the Tampa Bay Rays, will move to Tropicana Field after Lights.

'HEARD — TAMPA' by Nick Cave of Chicago

Having Nick Cave for Lights is a big deal. He's a nationally respected artist best known for his Soundsuits, wearable body suits made from and embellished with all kinds of colorful materials. (Three of them are on display at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in a new exhibition.) HEARD is a performance piece with 30 prancing "horses" made of colorful raffia that swishes and fluffs gloriously as two dancers in each costume perform. Versions of HEARD have been staged in various locations, including New York's Grand Central Terminal. For Tampa, Cave has choreographed a work with original music and 60 local dancers becoming the 30 horses. Kids especially will love it. Performances each night are at 6:30 and 8:30. Cave, by the way, is not the Bad Seeds rocker of the same name.

'Shadow Plays' by the Creative Movement Company of St. Petersburg (not shown)

This was a big hit at the 2013 Lights and returns with performers engaging visitors to join in the shadow movements projected onto large screens.

'River Glow' by Wannemacher Jensen Architects of St. Petersburg (on the cover)

If the name sounds familiar, it's because the firm is on the shortened list of potential designers for the new Pier in St. Petersburg. River Glow is an underwater installation on the Hillsborough River. Green and blue lights will glow underwater, designed to attract fish that can be seen swimming around them. After Lights on Tampa, it will be reinstalled when the Riverwalk project is completed, in about six months, Nigh estimates.

Contact Lennie Bennett at [email protected] or (727) 893-8293.

'Uplit,' with words by poet Sylvia Curbelo, fabrication by Sign Art Group

For the first time, written art will be incorporated into the event. "Can You Stand Perfectly Still and Hold This Moment Open" is from a poem by Tampa poet Sylvia Curbelo. Chrys Hanes of Sign Art Group says that "basically it's dimensional letters working LED lights into a 23-foot-tall frame" that will overlook Curtis Hixon Park. "You'll be able to see it across the river, but the place is the Tampa Museum of Art" across the park, she says.

'Recurrence' by Luftwerk of Chicago

This creative team designed a temporary light installation at the Tampa Museum of Art in 2014 and is well known nationally for its design work. Luftwerk is installing 84 LED light rods in a grid in Kiley Gardens that conforms to the tidal flow of the Hillsborough River but is compressed so that one hour represents 24 in real time. The work will have an original score accompanying the lights' fluctuations.

'Sky Striker' by Traction Architecture, designed by Freeman Company of Tampa

Remember that old muscle-mettle game High Striker, in which participants use a mallet to send a puck up a pole, striking a bell if hit hard enough? This installation has the mallets, pucks and a gigantic pole known as Rivergate Tower, the circular office building on Ashley Drive. Instead of a bell, lights have been rigged in four of the floors to activate depending on the strength of the hit. The lights will be reset for each participant.

     
 
Comments
Art events: Sound controls light at the Ringling while antiquity gets a monumental update at TMA

Art events: Sound controls light at the Ringling while antiquity gets a monumental update at TMA

AUDIO VISUAL: VOLUMESEdgy, experimental performance art comes to the Ringling Museum in the form of Volumes, an immersive audio-video installation by Brooklyn-based artist Ezra Masch. The beats of a drummerís live performance activate a three-dimensi...
Published: 08/15/18

Richey Suncoast theatre audition schedule for 2018-2019 shows

Got a hankering to perform on stage? Want to be part of a community theatre production? The Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Boulevard, New Port Richey, will be hosting auditions for its upcoming Broadway and Blackbox seasons. Auditions are open t...
Published: 08/13/18
Legendary graffiti artists painted sneakers to sell and display in Tampa (with gallery)

Legendary graffiti artists painted sneakers to sell and display in Tampa (with gallery)

TAMPA Sneakers are as integral to hip-hop culture as DJs, MCs, breakdancing and graffiti. And in 1983, when the Reebok Classic was introduced to the world, the South Bronx was erupting with this culture, including a core group of daring graffiti arti...
Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18
$5 admission all month at the Imagine Museum, plus art talks and altered books

$5 admission all month at the Imagine Museum, plus art talks and altered books

HOT DEAL: IMAGINE MUSEUMIf you havenít been over to see the stunning collection of studio glass art at the Imagine Museum, maybe $5 admission would motivate you. Thatís right, the museum is offering $5 admission to Pinellas County residents every day...
Published: 08/08/18
Itís your last weekend to catch two important exhibitions at the MFA before they close

Itís your last weekend to catch two important exhibitions at the MFA before they close

ST. PETERSBURG ó Itís the last weekend to catch two important exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts. "Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today" and "Can I Get a Witness: Photographs by Herb Snizter" close on Sunday."Magnetic F...
Published: 08/03/18
Must-see art exhibits in Seminole Heights and animals at the James Museum

Must-see art exhibits in Seminole Heights and animals at the James Museum

FIRST FRIDAY: ART IN THE HEIGHTSLike many cultural niches around the bay, Seminole Heights has a monthly art walk, which happens again Friday. Even nongalleries in the neighborhood showcase local art, and the shows at galleries Quaid, Tempus Projects...
Published: 08/01/18
Updated: 08/03/18