Two years ago, I co-chaired the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, and it was hell. We had hours of rain from Friday night to Saturday night, which resulted in thousands of square feet of mud and muck in Curtis Hixon Park, made worse with makeshift drying agents, like mulch, cardboard, and sand. Sunday was drier but sunny, making everything hot and muggy on top of being caked with dried mud. At least no one slipped and broke a hip.
It was, for me anyway, adding insult to injury. My mom died just a few days after the festival was over, and I remember during those last days that I would have rather been with her than be dealing with angry, nasty artists who had no empathy for us, the volunteers, for our apparent ineptitude in not having a backup plan. Though I was the unofficial punching bag, I had no problem telling some of the artists where to shove it.
Fault or no-fault, it was all a bit of a nightmare, and if I wasn’t ready to get out of Tampa and onto my Italian adventure before, I was after.
Fast forward, Italian adventure complete, and I find myself drawn back into the event’s planning. Several of my close friends are involved currently or have been in the past, and it is, with drama and all, like being part of a big family. It has history, legacy, passionate involvement and advocacy, and a strong following in the community.
After forty-seven years, it is still going strong as an all-volunteer organization with thousands of dollars of sponsorships, $76,500 in prize money each year, a quarter-million dollar budget, and over fifty active committee members.
This year, we decided to give an extra push to galaRE:, the evening party we’ve thrown for the past five or six years. It’s the time for us weary ‘staff’ to clean ourselves up, the award-winning artists to mingle with their enthusiasts, and patrons to view and buy the best of what our show has to offer. The Tampa Museum of Art, adjacent to Curtis Hixon Park, is a fitting venue, one of Tampa’s most modern spaces.
This year, the Oxford Exchange is again sponsoring galaRE:, so we created buzz by partnering with their (typically literary) spotlight series of events, inviting a former award-winning artist to discuss his craft, technique, and evolution in an intimate setting.
Beau Tudzarov was actually the only artist who responded to my e-mail, and I think it was the universe nudging us together, because he was ultimately a fascinating, engaging speaker. His art is digital, created entirely by hand, from scratch, via computer and graphical software, before being printed on either aluminum or canvas.
He explained to our group of around thirty that he is curious about movement of particles, refraction and reflection, the duality of stillness and action, and themes like chess pieces, wine, roses, and other objects.
His latest works are more sculptural in nature, made with the help of virtual modeling and 3-D printing, a relatively new capability. He spoke of his past work, where he stands now with his 2-D pieces, and then demonstrated more conceptual works like an animated video and two motorized pieces using figures, shapes, and magnets.
He struck me as an authentically modern artist, with quirks and eccentricities, but a passion for the leading edge of expression using tools his father, also a professional artist, couldn’t have fathomed.
Proof of his talent and novel ideas came with the slew of questions from the audience during and after his presentation, about his ideation process, inspiration, and technical specifications for 3-D printing.
Beau did an exemplary job illustrating (pardon the pun) the caliber of artist we highlight at galaRE:. While the entire show is 250 artists, all of whom are judged and accepted from 1,000+ applications, only a handful are awarded prizes by the festival juror, who is different each year.
The galaRE: party is a relatively recent addition to our repertoire of traditions, but we’re trying to make it a must-do each year for arts and culture-lovers in Tampa, a place that has been named many things, but rarely known for its arts chops.
Tickets for galaRE: are $55, but using the code “remarqed5” will take $5 off each ticket you buy. It is this Saturday March 4 at 8pm at the Tampa Museum of Art.
The festival itself is free and open to the public all day this coming Saturday and Sunday. Come to support arts in Tampa, enjoy some outdoor entertainment and food, and view (or buy!) some awesome art.