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Sola Creo: Art and Architecture, Form and Function

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The old real estate adage "Location, location, location" applies evermore to the potential success or failure of art exhibits. White walls certainly allow for pieces to speak for themselves, but what an increasing number of reception-goers look for are spaces that complement the works on display.

Architect and artist Jason Jensen recognizes this, and has managed to secure the third floor of The Pier in downtown St. Petersburg as the venue for Sola Creo, a synergistic group show he's organized with a group of fellow artists (including Gala Corina co-founder Mike Calvino) in true grassroots spirit.

The three-day exhibit opens with a reception from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, June 13, displaying works by 38 Bay area artists. And whereas the Gala Corina shows are known for inhabiting warehouse structures in various states of renovation, the group behind Sola Creo is transforming The Pier's third floor into an installation itself.

Twenty-four panels of stretched translucent fabric, softly illuminated from behind with colored light, provide a backdrop for the pieces on display — this in addition to the floor's unobstructed 360-degree views of the water.

"The space is great," Jensen said, "and we wanted to bring something to it. From my viewpoint, when you walk through the door, we're creating an environment of creativity."

The participating artists represent both sides of the Bay equally, and include Erin Dougherty, Colette Eddy, Frank Strunk III, Mindbomb and Guillermo Portieles. The mix of media is also well divided: photography, paintings, sculpture, video and furniture.

A common criticism of such large-scale shows is that they present quantity over quality. And since Sola Creo consciously includes works by new and emerging artists, there's bound to be some pieces that fail to engage or fall short of one's aesthetic taste. But judging by a preview of about a dozen pieces (offering a scant impression of what to expect overall), the works seem selectively chosen. They're all modern and dynamic, and there are some very fine photographs.

On day two of Sola Creo, patrons who missed the opening can come for what is essentially a second reception from 6 to 10 p.m.

Both Friday and Saturday, the show offers food and drink compliments of sponsors like Columbia Restaurant and Cha Cha Coconuts, as well as live music by Destination Out, The Adam Project, We Have Agents, Loud Zoo and Shotgun Wedding.

The object is to reach out to the regular participants in the Downtown Art Association's popular Second Saturday Art Walk.

Admission to Sola Creo is a suggested donation of $1.

The Pier is located at 800 Second Ave. N.E., St. Petersburg. For more info, visit www.solacreo.com.

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