What’s happening in art: Oswaldo Vigas at the Tampa Museum of Art, Charles Edward Williams at Polk Museum

The Tampa Museum of Art introduces an important 20th century abstract painter, while a contemporary painter shines at Florida Southern College.
Published January 30

Oswaldo Vigas: Transformations

The Tampa Museum of Art’s latest exhibition, Oswaldo Vigas: Transformations,” opens Thursday. Organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum, it’s the first U.S. museum survey of the Venezuelan artist’s work and features 60 works of art created between 1940 and 1980. (Vigas died in 2014). Through sketches, drawings and 40 paintings, the exhibit traces his evolution as a painter. Originally inspired by his native landscapes and traditions, many of his early works included a recurring mythical female figure. He ventured into geometric forms and color in the 1950s, which he translated into monumental murals at the University of Caracas. This period led to him being considered one of the 20th century’s foremost abstract painters, well known in Europe and Latin America but relatively unknown here. Nice to finally meet you. On display through May 27. 127 W Gasparilla Plaza. (813) 274-8130. For hours and admission, visit tampamuseum.org.

Charles Edward Williams: Sun + Light

Discovery of artists continues at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College when Charles Edward Williams: Sun + Light” opens on Saturday. Williams is a contemporary African American artist from South Carolina whose socially conscious work explores black history — or rather, the treatment of blacks in America throughout history. “Sun + Light” is based on the Civil Right Movement of the 1960s, which Williams has re-created from photographs and his own family’s history. Using a combination of oil, crayons and marker on Gesso watercolor paper, images of protest get slapped with splashes of yellow, like in American Dream, or drenched with the cheerful color, as he did in a series of portraits of Freedom Riders. The hue represents something his grandmother would tell him, to “stay in the light, stay positive.” Runs through May 19. 800 E Palmetto St., Lakeland. Free. (863) 688-7743. For hours, visit polkmuseumofart.org.