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15 free Tampa Bay art shows to see in 2024

The list includes museum shows, an annual festival and new galleries.
 
Installation view of the exhibition "Roving" at Hillsborough Community College's Gallery 221 in Tampa. It's on view Jan. 18-Feb. 28 in Tampa.
Installation view of the exhibition "Roving" at Hillsborough Community College's Gallery 221 in Tampa. It's on view Jan. 18-Feb. 28 in Tampa. [ KATELYN ROSE STUDIO | Courtesy of HCC Art Galleries ]
Published Jan. 17

With the new year comes a new season of art shows that you can visit for free. See artwork from big names like Robert Rauschenberg, local heavyweights and artists from outside our region. Explore art movements from the past that made an impact on contemporary works, art created with cutting-edge media and conceptual shows that address humanitarian topics.

Morean Arts Center

Carrie Jadus' "Seduction of Conspiracy" is on display in "Four Decades: PCCA Faculty + Alumni Exhibition" on view at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg from Jan. 13-March 28, 2024.
Carrie Jadus' "Seduction of Conspiracy" is on display in "Four Decades: PCCA Faculty + Alumni Exhibition" on view at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg from Jan. 13-March 28, 2024. [ Courtesy of Carrie Jadus ]

A big contributor to our robust local art scene is the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg. The program marks its 40th anniversary this year, and the Morean Arts Center is celebrating with exhibitions showcasing visual arts alumni, faculty and students. The first is “Four Decades: PCCA Faculty + Alumni Exhibition.” Participating faculty include David Bewley, Joyce Ely-Walker, Alan Johnson and Yoko Nogami. Among the long list of participating alumni are Leon “Tes One” Bedore, Derek Donnelly, Ora Fraze, Carrie Jadus, Reid Jenkins, Sooky Kim, Christine Renc-Carter and Laura Spencer. On view through March 28. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 727-822-7872. moreanartscenter.org.

Hillsborough Community College

Installation view of "Selected Topics: USF Faculty Exhibition" at Hillsborough Community College's Gallery 114 in Tampa through Feb. 22, 2024.
Installation view of "Selected Topics: USF Faculty Exhibition" at Hillsborough Community College's Gallery 114 in Tampa through Feb. 22, 2024. [ KATELYN ROSE STUDIO | Courtesy of HCC Art Galleries ]

Art offerings are regularly outstanding at the Tampa school, with galleries at both the Ybor City and Dale Mabry campuses. At Ybor’s Gallery 114, “Selected Topics: USF Faculty Exhibition” is on display, carrying on HCC’s tradition of presenting work by full-time visual arts faculty from Florida four-year universities. The goal is to introduce students to potential schools and mentors. With the University of South Florida featured, familiar names include Wendy Babcox, Neil Bender, Erika Greenberg-Schneider, Jason Lazarus and Noelle Mason. It’s on view through Feb. 22, with a reception and an artist talk that day from 5-8 p.m. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday. First floor, Performing Arts Building, 1411 E. 11th Ave., Tampa. 813-253-7674. hccfl.edu/gallery114.

At Gallery 221 on the Dale Mabry campus, “Roving: Nneka Jones, Kandy G. Lopez & Eugene Ofori Agyei” is on display. These artists mix the media of fiber with painting, sculpture, performance and installation. Jones is from Trinidad, Lopez is Afro-Caribbean and Agyei is from Ghana, which frames their exploration of themes of home, belonging, identity and ancestry. A reception happens Jan. 18 from 5-8 p.m. with an artist talk at 6 p.m. Remains on view through Feb. 28. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday. Second floor, Learning Resources Center. 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa. 813-253-7674. hccfl.edu/visit-gallery221.

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USF Contemporary Art Museum

Robert Rauschenberg, Eco-Echo VIII, 1992-93. acrylic and screenprinting ink on aluminum and Lexan, with sonar-activated motor. 88 x 73 x 26 in. Collection of Ruth and Don Saff. This is on display in "Offset: Robert Rauschenberg at USF Graphicstudio" at the University of South Florida's Contemporary Art Museum from Jan. 19-March 4, 2024.
Robert Rauschenberg, Eco-Echo VIII, 1992-93. acrylic and screenprinting ink on aluminum and Lexan, with sonar-activated motor. 88 x 73 x 26 in. Collection of Ruth and Don Saff. This is on display in "Offset: Robert Rauschenberg at USF Graphicstudio" at the University of South Florida's Contemporary Art Museum from Jan. 19-March 4, 2024. [ GEORGE HOLZER | Courtesy of Saff Tech Arts ]

Another local treasure is the Graphicstudio on the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus. Since it was founded in 1968 by Donald J. Saff, many renowned artists have made editions there, including esteemed graphic artist Robert Rauschenberg. The Contemporary Art Museum is presenting “OFFSET: Robert Rauschenberg at USF Graphicstudio,” which reveals Rauschenberg’s long collaboration with Saff. Rauschenberg worked with Saff and a team of printmakers at Graphicstudio to produce more than thirty editions of prints and sculpture multiples over three decades, a collaboration that yielded new methods in printmaking. The exhibition also explores Rauschenberg’s influence on artists including Trisha Brown, Rochelle Feinstein, Christian Marclay, Narsiso Martinez, Bosco Sodi and Tavares Strachan, whose work is pictured below. It opens on Jan. 19 with a reception from 7-9 p.m. On view through March 2. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday except for Thursday when it’s open until 8 p.m., 1-4 p.m. Saturday. Visitor parking in lot 3B. USF parking permits required, and available at the pay station in the CAM parking lot. 3755 USF Holly Drive, Tampa. 813-974-4133. cam.usf.edu.

Tavares Strachan, "Happy World," 2022. oil, enamel, pigment, acrylic. 47-1/2 in. diameter x 2 in. depth. It's on display in "Offset: Robert Rauschenberg at USF Graphicstudio" at the University of South Florida's Contemporary Art Museum from Jan. 19-March 4, 2024.
Tavares Strachan, "Happy World," 2022. oil, enamel, pigment, acrylic. 47-1/2 in. diameter x 2 in. depth. It's on display in "Offset: Robert Rauschenberg at USF Graphicstudio" at the University of South Florida's Contemporary Art Museum from Jan. 19-March 4, 2024. [ Courtesy of Tavares Strachan ]

Tempus Projects

There’s always something interesting and unusual at the arts nonprofit located at the historic Kress building in Ybor City. Three such exhibitions run concurrently this season. “Non-Essential Consultants, Inc.” is a three-channel video installation by Brooklyn-based artist Duke Riley. The film tells the story of two outlaws responsible for a bedbug outbreak in Washington, D.C. It’s inspired by 1960 spy thrillers, public distrust of government and media and other current social issues. “Loose Intentions, Tight Pajamas” is by Boston-based interdisciplinary artist Lisa McCarthy, who layers her pieces with multiple materials. She explores themes of gender, family dynamics, human resilience and morality, while inviting viewers to find their own meaning within the pieces. “Cemetery WiFi: Danial Ryan” by the St. Petersburg-based, self-taught artist who says of his works in painting, illustration and digital media, “I focus on surrealism, which allows me to explore the intersection between life and death, the absurdity of existence, and the impact of technology on the human psyche..” All open Jan. 18 with a reception at 6 p.m. and remain on view through Feb. 22. By appointment Wednesday, noon-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and noon-8 p.m. every third Thursday. 1624 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa. 813-340-9056. tempus-projects.com.

OXH Gallery

Photographs by artist Holly Wong are featured in her solo exhibition, "Manifold," presented by OXH Gallery at the Historic Kress building in Ybor City from Jan. 18-Feb. 22, 2024.
Photographs by artist Holly Wong are featured in her solo exhibition, "Manifold," presented by OXH Gallery at the Historic Kress building in Ybor City from Jan. 18-Feb. 22, 2024. [ Courtesy of Holly Wong ]

Another function of Tempus Projects is to provide a curatorial residency in its DRIFT space at the Kress building. OXH Gallery — led by founder Odeta Xheka, who recently moved to the area from Brooklyn — will be in residence there with three exhibitions. The first one is “Manifold,” a solo show by California-based artist Holly Wong. The exhibition has two parts, one a series of photographs dating from the late 1990s that Wong shot with a large-format camera and hand printed using traditional darkroom methods. They are a memorial to her late mother, who died from alcoholism and domestic violence, and explore the passage of time and memory. Another is an installation of drafting film that has been adorned with colored pencil and graphite, called “Spiral Dance.” It runs through the entirety of the gallery. It’s Wong’s intention that it be a healing space for those who have faced violence. It opens Jan. 18 with a reception at 6 p.m. and remains on view through Feb. 22. 6-9 p.m. Thursday. 1624 E Seventh Ave., Tampa. oxhgallery.com.

Department of Contemporary Art Tampa, FL

This gallery, another Kress building tenant, presents contemplative exhibitions. “Swamp Church” is a solo exhibition of new work by St. Petersburg-based artist Cort Hartle. Born in Weeki Wachee, Hartle explores the difficult balance of finding communion and spirituality in an environment that spouts hostility, as well as negotiating Florida becoming a place where many people don’t feel safe. “The church is a site where, through repetition, stories become dogma,” Hartle says. “In small Southern towns like the one I’m from, the church is not just a place of worship but a community center, a festival grounds, a food bank, and in some cases a tomb of secrecy and violent repression. In my adult life I watch the people around me — people who have for the most part been shunned by the churches we grew up in — recreate sacred spaces in service of our own mythologies and in our own image. Swamp Church is one such recreation.” It opens Jan. 18 with a reception from 6-9 p.m. and runs through Feb. 8. 1624 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa. docatpa.com.

Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art

Kim Kirchman's "Cultivating What Might Be Lost," a ceramic piece on display in "Kim Kirchman: An Allegory of Spring" at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs from Jan 20. -April 28, 2024.
Kim Kirchman's "Cultivating What Might Be Lost," a ceramic piece on display in "Kim Kirchman: An Allegory of Spring" at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs from Jan 20. -April 28, 2024. [ Courtesy of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art ]

This museum on St. Petersburg College’s Tarpon Springs campus has promising exhibitions coming. Explore maximalism in “The Beauty of Excess: The Pattern and Decoration Movement.” The movement often referred to as P&D emerged in the 1970s in the U.S. as a reaction to the contemporary art trends of minimalism and conceptualism. Marked by practices and craft-based techniques associated with “women’s work,” it challenged the idea that intricate patterns and vibrant color weren’t valid artistically. “Kim Kirchman: An Allegory of Spring” delves into the artistic journey of the St. Petersburg College ceramics professor who retired in December. The museum says Kirchman is “a rebel against convention and a master of ornament.” With “Everything That Rises Must Converge: Benny Andrews,” a showcase of illustrations by the artist, educator and activist that were created for Flannery O’Connor’s “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” a collection of nine short stories, published posthumously in 1965. Exhibits open Jan. 20 with an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. and run through April 28. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday. 600 E. Klosterman Road, Tarpon Springs. 727-712-5762. leeparattner.org.

Temple Beth-El

Jewelry by artist So Young Park will be on display at Art Festival Beth-El Jan. 28-29, 2024 in St. Petersburg.
Jewelry by artist So Young Park will be on display at Art Festival Beth-El Jan. 28-29, 2024 in St. Petersburg. [ Courtesy of So Young Park ]

The temple’s annual Art Festival Beth-El is a highly anticipated St. Petersburg tradition, having earned a reputation as a premier show in the Southeast. It extends throughout the temple with six galleries featuring paintings, glass, ceramics, photography, sculpture and wood. It’s also known for jewelry artists who bring creations that run the gamut of elegant to funky. The large Outdoor Sculpture Garden is fun to peruse while the Boutique Gallery offers fine art and craft at moderate prices. It’s a juried show that awards $8,000 in prizes and will be judged by Sara Felice, who is the Leepa-Rattner Museum’s curator. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 28-29. 400 Pasadena Ave. S., St. Petersburg. 727-347-6136. artfestiavlbethel.com.

Wild Space Gallery

This recently opened gallery at The Factory St. Pete is a project of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. The next exhibition focuses on the scientists and artists who work at the Archbold Biological Station, a field station for research of Florida’s wildlife, landscape and waters. Included in “Timeless: Art, Science and Nature” are images by scientists who use artistic skills for research and artists who draw from science in their aesthetic. Media include painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, music, video and installation. 2-6 p.m. On view Feb. 10-March 29. 2-6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 2-8 p.m. Saturday (extends to 9 p.m. for Second Saturday Artwalk). 2606 Fairfield Ave. S., St. Petersburg. floridawildlifecorridor.org/wild-space-gallery.

The Gallery at Creative Pinellas

The county arts agency’s first exhibition of the year combines art and technology. “Nature Pix” is the creation of agency artist laureate Mikhail Mansion. The exhibition combines computer code and electronics designed by Mansion — who is a “computational artist and designer” — to explore nature through art. Live sensor data transmitted from the Florida Botanical Gardens — which shares its Largo campus with Creative Pinellas — helps to create minimalist artworks including algorithmic drawings and digital sculptures. “Code is a creative medium, akin to paint, wood, metal, or glass,” Mansion said in a news release. It opens on Feb. 22 with a reception from 6-8 p.m. and remains on view through April 21. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. 12211 Walsingham Road, Largo. 727-582-2172. creativepinellas.org.