TAMPA — Four exhibitions at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts look at a range of experiences, from portraits of local chefs to X-ray footage at the nation’s borders.
“Chef’s Special” features portraits of Tampa Bay chefs and restaurant owners, a perfect exhibition for the museum’s community gallery. It was conceived in reaction to the pandemic, when restaurants had to shut down, then struggled to find new ways to survive. With 87 portraits shot by 48 local photographers, it crystallizes how Tampa Bay’s restaurant scene is integral to the community. It remains on view through April 11.
“X-Ray Vision vs Invisibility” is a very different examination of humanity by Noelle Mason. A professor at the University of South Florida, Mason obtained X-ray, thermal and infrared images from the U.S. border patrol, vigilantes and commercial security websites. The images of immigrants stowed away in trucks, vans and in one especially heart-wrenching instance, a suitcase, are haunting. Mason has transformed them using the blue cyanotype process. She’s also translated the images into impressive weavings and delicate embroideries. Mason seeks to instill a sense of humanity in the imagery that degrades people into shapes and objects. It remains on view through May.
“Hidden Waters/Desert Springs: An Uncertain Future” is photographer Bremner Benedict’s exploration of the springs of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, Mojave and Great Basin deserts as well as the Colorado Plateau. These springs are threatened by drought and overuse due to population growth. Benedict captured panoramic views of these picturesque landscapes, as well as detail shots that illustrate the fragility of the ecosystem. The photographs are accompanied by fact sheets about each location, with information on ecology, geology, history and threats. It remains on view through September.
Location also factors into “Batture Ritual,” Jeff Whetstone’s collection of striking images of the Mississippi River where it runs through Louisiana. Batture is the French-creole term for the strip of trees, weeds and mud between the water’s edge and the levees. It disappears with high tide, so the images are imbued with symbolic themes of transformation and temporary wilderness. Images are captured at night and include portraits of fishermen and women and piles of strangely beautiful gutted fish swarmed by glittery flies. A 14-minute film that chronicles a full day on the river’s edge is also included. It remains on view through September.
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If you go
$10, $8 students/military/seniors, free for members. Noon-5 p.m. Monday, closed Tuesday, noon-5 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, noon-7 p.m. Friday, noon-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, 400 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. 813-221-2222. fmopa.org.