That’s a lot to promise, but I can offer proof in advance. Just go upstairs to the Tampa Museum of Art in the next few weeks and see the two shows currently on view. Alex Katz: Black and White, an overview of B&W portraits and landscapes by the world-famous, almost-nonagenarian Katz, makes an immediate, stunning impact. The same can be said for the many astonishments in Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present.
During GASP!, taking place from 6-10 on Friday, March 31 at the museum, you’ll not only see those works in person, you’ll get the chance to see them interpreted by top artists in other media, from fiction to playwriting to musical theater to dance. Borrowing a page from Keep St. Pete Lit’s Fantastic Ekphrastic, we’ve invited writers, actors, dancers and more to respond to the Katz and Sports (Sportz?) shows in what we’re calling GASP!-Phrastic.
But that's only one of the attractions at GASP!, the only festival during Gasparilla Arts Month that focuses primarily on the performing arts. At any given moment during the evening, you could see a balloon-art recreation of a Magritte painting, a human skill-crane machine, a steampunk pole dance — it's a kaleidoscopic evening of theater, dance, music, spoken word and more. The complete schedule will be published in CL the week of the event, but here’s a taste of the talent roster.
NEW TO GASP! IN 2017
Infinite Third (Billy Mays III): The Ambient Installation Series. The experimental guitar virtuoso (son of the late TV personality) creates immersive soundscapes that envelop audiences and provide improvisatory inspiration to performers.
Brian Feldman: “The Skill Crane Kid.” A truly original performer from Orlando, he’ll be doing residencies at the Morean Arts Center and in St. Pete kitchens later this spring, and for GASP! he’ll be crawling inside a Skill Crane machine for a sideshow performance like nothing else.
Mark Byrne the Balloon Guy: “Magritte & Me.” A mind-blowing homage to the surreal art of Rene Magritte using sleight of hand, levitation and, of course, balloons.
The Real Clash.The mega-talented seven-piece band out of St. Petersburg College’s Music Industry/Recording Arts (MIRA) program brings “the soul of hip-hop without all the additives and fillers.”
Sheryl Oring: “Greetings from Tampa Bay.” In this collaboration with the museum and Tampa International Airport, artist Sheryl Oring, in the guise of a ’50s stenographer, types the tales of GASP! fest-goers, which will eventually become part of an installation at TIA.
Nicole Hays & A.J. Vaughan: “Tank & Tilly’s Clockwork Cabaret.” A steampunk-themed variety show by a St. Pete circus performer/body artist/pole dancer and her violinist partner.
Helen Hansen French: “Fledgling No More.” The exquisite dancer from The Palladium’s BEACON series in a dance inspired by “The Pinnacle,” a painting by fellow Creative Pinellas grantee Steven Kenny.
Arielle Lane. The mistress of the musical saw.
GASP!-Phrastic: Area writers were invited to choose from among 23 evocative images in the Alex Katz and sports photography shows and create stories, poems, essays, plays, even songs in response, to be performed either by themselves or actors (or, in one case, a dancer). Participating writers include Bonnie Agan, Patrick Brafford, Matt Cowley, Sheila Cowley, Erica Dawson, Roxanne Fay, Sheree L. Greer, Christen Hailey, Maureen McDole, Matthew McGee, Gloria Muñoz, Tom Schmidt, Tom Sivak & Beth Gelman, Paul Wilborn and the teen poets from Heard ’Em Say.
Roxanne Fay: “Paradise Whiskey.” The award-winning actor and writer in her one-woman tour de force.
Audrey Richter/Collective Soles: “Magdalena.” A tribute to the life, legacy, and artwork of Frida Kahlo, this dance solo experiments with color, texture, and display as an ode to the feminist artist’s iconic paintings.
Brian Fidalgo II & Erin Cardinal. The local dance world’s favorite couple in a new duet.
Moving Current Dance Collective & ROGUEdance. Works by two of the area’s top dance companies.
Scott & Patti. The inimitable mother-son act embodied and sung hilariously by the team of Matthew McGee and Scott Daniel.
The GASParet. Pop standards, witty patter and a luxe lounge atmosphere starring Paul Wilborn & Eugenie Bondurant, Scott & Patti, Becca McCoy and more stars TBA.
David Manson/Mobile Itinerant Funk Unit. A marching band that brings the funk, with brass, percussion and other joyful noises.
Hip Expressions. Traditional belly dance and some surprising variations
Impulse Pole Dance. A troupe known for athleticism, grace and a lot of pure “Wow!”
Susannah LeMarquand & UT Dancers: "Four-Fifths." The joyous culmination of a two-year study by the University of Tampa choregrapher and her students.
Noel Rochford. The lead singer of UNRB returns for a solo gig this year, what he describes as “a psychedelic electric ukulele hybrid experience.”
The Heard Em Say Youth Arts Collective GASP! Poetry Slam. Young poets with something to say and the chops to make themselves heard.
Friday, March 31, 6-10 p.m., Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa Museum of Art, 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza, downtown Tampa. General admission: $25 advance (now through March 30, $30 door. VIP: $55, advance (now through March 30), $60 door. Students, active military, & TMA Members: $10 off at door with valid ID. Food and beverages from Sono Cafe/Mise en Place will be available for purchase, or included for free with purchase of VIP tickets. All tickets include free admission to the Tampa Museum of Art exhibitions, Alex Katz: Black and White and Who Shot Sports. gasptampa.com.