Freebie: Artistic Flair-Up

Unassuming as any other warehouse in the Channel District, the three-story home of Artists Unlimited quietly keeps the eclectic output of 32 artists who lease its space. The nonprofit cultural/fine arts center supports a broad range of creativity, demonstrated boldly by the African sculptures on display in the main gallery and rear garden.

Artist Unlimited offers a full display of its residents and patrons' diverse pursuits in Solar Flair, from Art to Wear, a multimedia showcase of fine art, dance and fashion.

The multimedia event takes place from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, and features original artwork, live music by the 71s and Thomas Martin, belly dancing by Gazahriel and Co., a fashion show by Anthropologie-Old Hyde Park Village and catering by Viva La Frida and Panera Bread Co.

The highlight, however, is a silent auction of the African sculpture — 65 original pieces by Zimbabwe artists — cut from soapstone mined in their region. The sculptures range in style from realist to classical to abstract, all strong, solid and organic.

Normally ranging in price from $65 to $200, the pieces are marked 50 percent off for the auction. Bids go up from there in $5 increments. The prices are exceptional, considering a Miami art dealer bought 10, drove home and sold them for $500 apiece.

Artist Unlimited has organized the fashion show to draw in the crowd who frequents such fetes — an artsy crowd, sure, but certainly not fartsy — as a way to infuse its creative atmosphere, and to increase the audience for the artists.

Certainly at least one of the girls modeling (employees of Anthropologie and aforementioned belly dancers) struts away from the runway the proud new owner of a 20-pound, abstract elephant head.

Artists Unlimited is located at 223 N. 12th St., Tampa. 813-229-5958.

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