Don't neglect these art gallery shows in favor of museums

Artist: Robin Cody Title: Long Sands Looking South Details: Oil on muslin/wood panel, 12 inches by 12 inches
Artist: Robin Cody Title: Long Sands Looking South Details: Oil on muslin/wood panel, 12 inches by 12 inches
Published Aug. 25, 2012

Area museums offer many interesting summer exhibitions that are nearing the ends of their runs, so make plans now to see them.

But don't forget about galleries. They're smaller venues and usually rotate their shows more frequently. And they're free. Two examples with strong exhibitions are Clayton Galleries in South Tampa and Gallery 221 on the Dale Mabry campus of Hillsborough Community College.

Gallery 221 features Tampa native Josette Urso, who is now based in New York and shows her work internationally, so this is a coup for 221. It's an example of how Katherine Gibson, the gallery's director, has invigorated the exhibition schedule using her many contacts.

Most of us know Urso as an abstract landscape painter who is more interested in interpreting a sense of place rather tha n representing it.

There are works in Taking Place — Drawings by Josette Urso with her signature lyricism but many are harder edged and more realistic. The signature piece is a large, site-specific vinyl wall drawing of a New York neighborhood that takes a long view of its buildings packed together, bisected by streets. A study for it, shown here, is a complex negotiation of strong black lines and surrounding white space that suggest the energy of the view. The exhibition includes a six-minute video by Urso (she films her feet in motion on her many forays for subject matter) and watercolors.

Urso will be at the gallery Sept. 5 for a talk from 3 to 4 p.m. and Sept. 6 for a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. She and Lynn Whitelaw, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art curator and longtime friend, will have an informal discussion during the reception. Both events are free.

For Clayton Galleries, summer is a time to showcase artists who have ongoing representation there (as opposed to special exhibitions with new artists) and many perennial favorites always line the walls. It can be a bit of a hodgepodge with so many different media and styles, sort of like a very interesting conversation among a lot of opinionated talkers, but it's stimulating. And because owner Cathy Clayton does represent all of them, she can usually pull other works by those artists that she has in storage areas.

Among the artists are Peter Brown, Bruce Marsh, Robin Cody, Dolores Coe, Benjamin Dimmitt, Craig Rubadoux, Joyce Ely-Walker, Roberta Schofield and Jeffrey Kronsnoble.

Parts of Tampa will be busy, even inaccessible, during the coming week but both of these galleries are well outside the Republican National Convention activity areas so access, traffic and parking won't be issues.

But it's too hot to get out? Ceramicist Jack Boyle has an alternative: It's a new website that catalogues Florida artists by medium. He describes it as "very much like an online art festival."