FALL ARTS '07: Small Wonders

The season's best bets — plus, profiles of small arts organizations doing great things

click to enlarge THE KIDS STAY IN THE PICTURE: Gorrie Elementary students show off the mural they created last year working with the TECO Gallery of Children's Art. - Dan Weisberg
Dan Weisberg
THE KIDS STAY IN THE PICTURE: Gorrie Elementary students show off the mural they created last year working with the TECO Gallery of Children's Art.

Every fall, when we tell you what's looking good in the arts season ahead, it's a pretty safe bet to assume there'll be some familiar names on our critics' lists: the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Ruth Eckerd Hall, American Stage, Jannus Landing, the Museum of Fine Arts. That's hardly a bad thing: These and other big-name institutions are our cultural mainstays, dependable purveyors of high-quality stuff without which there wouldn't be an arts season.

But to vary the palette a bit, our fall arts package this time also features an eclectic array of Small Wonders — cultural organizations that you may not know about. Arts educators and dancers working miracles with kids; theater troupes passionately dedicated to breaking boundaries; designers and visual artists banding together to improve communities; music lovers keeping genres like blues and jazz alive for local audiences.

Together, the What to Watch For lists and the Small Wonders profiles should give you a handy overview of what to explore in coming months. I've already started marking my most-anticipated WTWFs: the Bay area Latin fest Arte 2007 (including Spanish art plus Spanish food at Florida Craftsmen); the dancing Mata Hari at TBPAC; plays by three stellar American playwrights, Kenneth Lonergan, Jeffrey Hatcher and Lee Blessing; music from Kim Richey and Trombone Shorty; Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Paul Giamatti-as-Santa (!) at the movies.

But I'm going to keep my eye on those Small Wonders, too. The biggest thrills of the season may well come in the most unassuming packages.

Fall Arts '07

Nurturing What's Inside
Cover
Paulette Johnson is in the business of filling souls.
BY LEILANI POLK

Cool Cats

Cover

Real women, surreal performance — but always with a sense of humor.
BY MARK E. LEIB
Mind Your Planners
Cover
Social networking for better urban design.
BY MEGAN VOELLER
Soothing chords
Cover
Helping sick kids feel better through music
BY LEILANI POLK
M.A.D. Skills
Cover
Two, two, two troupes in one
BY MARK E. LEIB
Why We Have the Blues
Cover
Thanks to these guys, Tampa's blues scene has a good rep
BY ERIC SNIDER
Hand In Glove
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Theater and jazz, happy together
BY MARK E. LEIB
My Kid Could Do That
Cover
A gallery for the young at art
BY MEGAN VOELLER
A New Leaf
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The gallery formerly known as 1906 goes nonprofit
BY MEGAN VOELLER
VISUAL ART
Cover
Joe  Griffith, Steve McClure, Arte 2007...
BY MEGAN VOELLER
THEATER
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August Wilson, Jeffrey Hatcher, Sleuth...
BY MARK E. LEIB
DANCE
Cover
Dancing pirates, Mata Hari, Ballet Folklórico...
BY LEILANI POLK
FILM
Cover
American Gangster, Lion for Lambs, Bee Movie...
BY LANCE GOLDENBERG
ROCK/ POP
Cover
Dropkick Murphys, Queen Latifah, Cat Power...
BY WADE TATANGELO
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