1. Visual Arts

What's happening in Tampa Bay art: Gulfport gets a new gallery, contemporary quilts in Dunedin


For as many artists as call Gulfport home, there are surprisingly few art galleries. Even the first Friday and third Saturday art walks feature art in popped-up tents or on the walls of other businesses. But now that the Brenda McMahon Gallery has opened, Gulfport has a fine art space that represents many of its resident artists. McMahon has spent the majority of her career as a ceramic artist exhibiting at outdoor art shows. And although it never really occurred to her to open her own gallery, in the past few years she began organizing Art Jones studio tours that featured Gulfport artists. But when she saw the "for lease" sign on a space in a brand-new building on Beach Boulevard S, she knew it was going to be her gallery. Of the 10 professional artists that she represents, eight live in Gulfport. There is a beautifully eclectic mix of work, including Dawn Waters' cool celebrity portraits made of dyed wool, Irina Lapin's abstract paintings and Doug Merritt's blown glass. McMahon's own work is on display, both her saggar-fired pots and her gorgeous wall tiles, most meditations on nature that incorporate river rock or crushed glass. She has lots of plans, including an emerging artist program, artist demonstrations and thematic exhibitions. The gallery will open late on Friday for the art walk, till about 9:30 p.m. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, noon-6 p.m. Thursday, 2-7 p.m. Friday-Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. 2901 Beach Blvd. S.

MUST SEE: Quilts and Textiles

Read up on the history of quilting and you'll find some very interesting facts. Did you know that the abolitionists made and sold quilts to raise funds to help end slavery? That they were used as signals on the Underground Railroad? And that in the 19th century, a fad called "crazy quilting" took off, sewing abstract shapes together randomly and embellished with embroidered motifs? Those "crazies" were the predecessor to the art quilt movement that survives today. You'll find incredible examples of contemporary art quilts and textiles in the Dunedin Fine Art Center's sextet of shows, on display now. Quilters from around the world put a new spin on a traditional pattern in "New Quilts From an Old Favorite: Bowtie." The Tampa Bay Surface Design Guild showcases what its members have been creating in fiber arts, and another group show is a tribute to Dunedin's beloved quilt shop, Rainbow's End. There are three solo exhibitions: Jane Sassaman's odes to the decorative arts; Sheila Frampton-Cooper's colorful, graphic quilts; and Lorraine Turner's multidimensional textile pieces that incorporate her expertise as an illustrator. All of the exhibits remain on display through Aug. 18. $10, free for members and children 12 and younger. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. 1143 Michigan Blvd. (727) 298-3322.