1. Visual Arts

Art Planner: New shows in Sarasota and a Chad Mize project at The Bends

Published Sep. 2, 2015


So much is happening in the Tampa Bay regional arts scene we forget that farther south, Sarasota remains the matriarch of the arts on Florida's west coast where the Ringling complex of museums and performing arts stages rules.

Art Center Sarasota might hold smaller sway but it predates the Ringling Museum by five years. Opened in 1926, it was the first arts institution in the city. The organization has occupied its home at 707 N Tamiami Trail for almost 50 years. Like most arts centers, it's member-based and offers classes and exhibition opportunities to them. For the public, the center also has special exhibitions.

On view now through Sept. 30 are four new shows. "El Chocó" explores that region of Colombia through photographs by Steve Cagan and drawings by Mary Kelsey, giving us a close look at the artisanal gold-mining industry in its rainforests. Cagan and Kelsey have collected three Fulbright fellowships between them for their work over the years in Latin America. "Character" features four international artists who employ the written word in differing ways. Florida State University graduate student Scott Bell has created 12 large-scale paintings for "Closer Consideration" which examine the intersection between development and the natural world that it changes. "Untitled" is an open juried show, meaning anyone could submit a work and the group was culled by curators.

Art Center Sarasota is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is free. (941) 365-2032. artsarasota. org.


Mabel Poblet is a rising Cuban art star (born 1986) and Simply, Beautiful is one of her works now on display in the Tampa Museum of Art's atrium. You don't have to know the work's story to appreciate it but it is a moving one. Poblet is part of a program in which artists participate in educational programs for prisoners.

She writes, "In one ... I found a group of (female) inmates ... in a creative workshop for the manufacture of plastic flowers ... made with the waste products daily originated in the prison and were placed as ornamental elements in most of the public and private places."

She was conflicted by the lowbrow nature of the flowers and the effort of people with nothing to create something beautiful. To reconcile those opposing dynamics and to foster the project, Poblet purchased a quantity of them that she used in Simply, Beautiful, which is on loan to the museum by collectors Doug and Maureen Cohn. She painted a young woman's face on acrylic panels and attached bicycle wheels to them that were decorated with the flowers. When the wheels turn, the face is changed by the moving flowers.

If you have visited the museum, you know the atrium is a soaring space filled with light. This is, in my memory, the first time art has been exhibited in it. Given this work's scale, its kinetic quality and simple palette, it should look spectacular in that location.

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Chad Mize is multitalented as a well-known painter and muralist, gallery owner (the late Blue Lucy), and graphic designer (the famous Paris, London, Tokyo, St. Pete T-shirts) who was a leader in working with school kids in an arts program that led to the SHINE Community Mural in St. Petersburg. He opens a show of new work Friday at the Bends, 919 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg, that he describes as "a pop-infused world of underwater delight." A free reception is at 7 p.m.

Take a stroll: Walking Mural Tour

The regular Central Arts District Walking Mural Tour this week will include two of the 14 large-scale artworks that are being created for the SHINE St. Petersburg Mural Festival. You'll see 30 murals in this eight-block (four blocks up and back) walking tour. When finished, pick up a map of the SHINE murals to see the rest. Call (727) 821-7391 or register in advance at

Tours are from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sept. 12 at Florida CraftArt Galleries, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $19 for adults, $11 for children ages 6-18, under 5 is free. A portion of the proceeds from the tours will be used to fund future murals.


"Bound and Release" is a mixed-media show with works by Laura James and Saori Murphy opening Friday at Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. The show is described as "a tapestry of visual responses to their own obstructed lenses," which tells us nothing so we're going to have to go see it. A free reception Friday is from 6 to 9 p.m. The gallery is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment. (727) 895-6620.


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