What’s happening in art: Theo Wujcik at MFA, abstract expressionism at TMA, photography at the James Museum

It’s a busy time for Tampa Bay galleries.
Published April 10

Times Staff Writer

LOCAL ICON: Theo Wujcik

Tampa Bay’s art scene lost a local icon five years ago in Theo Wujcik. The prolific artist was a professor at the University of South Florida and a master printmaker at Graphicstudio. His art was often inspired by Ybor City, where he lived and was a fixture in the community, particularly on the punk scene. That influence will be on display in the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg exhibition of Wujcik’s work inspired by the literary classic Dante’s Inferno. “Theo Wujcik: Cantos” opens Saturday. Wujcik spent a decade working on this series of paintings, two of which are in the museum’s permanent collection. While interpreting select cantos from the epic poem, Wujcik draws on elements from his beloved Ybor. Layered and textured collage elements reflect the fliers posted on telephone poles. His signature wire fence motif was also taken from Ybor’s landscape. Remains on display through June 2. $20, $15 students, seniors, military and Florida educators, $10 ages 7-17 and after 5 p.m. Thursdays, free for 6 and younger. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 896-2667. mfastpete.org.

SOCIAL REVOLUTION: Abstract Expressionism

Abstract expressionism was the definitive genre of post World War II artwork, and the Tampa Museum of Art’s new exhibit, which opens Thursday, features many of the genre’s definitive artists. “Abstract Expressionism: A Social Revolution” showcases selections from the Haskell Collection and includes works by first- and second-generation artists Willem de Kooning, Hans Hofman and Mark Rothko. There are examples of later artists who worked in the genre as well, including Gerhard Richter and Frank Stella. But what is especially exciting is the pieces by Joan Mitchell and Helen Frakenthaler, two female artists in the male-dominated movement. They are two of the subjects of Ninth Street Women, a recent book by Mary Gabriel that explores female abstract expressionist artists. Remains on display through Aug. 11. $15, $7.50 seniors, military and Florida educators, $5 students, free for college students and 6 and younger. 120 W Gasparilla Plaza. (813) 274-8380. tampamuseum.org.

CULTURAL CONNECTIONS: Edward S. Curtis

American photographer Edward S. Curtis traveled the land capturing images of Native Americans in the early 1900s to document what he considered “vanishing” cultures. An exhibition of this remarkable photography is on display at the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art. “The Cultural Connections of Edward S. Curtis” is compelling as both an example of early photographic processes and as a history lesson on the many native tribes he visited. There are the piercing portraits of famous chiefs, including Geronimo, adorned with beads, feathers and in one case, a bear skin. Curtis used a variety of photographic processes, including the rarely used goldtone, in which the image is printed on glass and backed with liquid gold. They are luminous. There’s so much more to learn, you’ll have to go see for yourself. Remains on display through July 21. $20, $15 students, seniors and military, $10 ages 7-18, free for 6 and younger. 150 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 892-4200. thejamesmuseum.org.

Contact Maggie Duffy at mduffy@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8572. Follow @maggiedalexis.

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