Leave it to weavers

Tampa Bay ups its fiber intake with 'Convergence 2008'

Seems like every important Bay area art house is getting involved in the biennial Handweavers' Guild of America conference, "Convergence 2008," which is held at the Tampa Convention Center June 22-28. Related exhibits are cropping up all over town, and a few open this Friday within a few blocks of each other.

The Arts Center launches three exhibits. In Salsa y Salsa: Convergence Juried Exhibition, Florida Tropical Weavers Guild hosts an international multimedia fiber show featuring pieces inspired by Florida's vibrant Caribbean, Central and South American societies. The "Best in Show" winner will be chosen by juror/award-winning mixed-media artist Joan Michaels Paque. Practical to Poetic: Fiber Invitational is curated by Sangoyemi Ogunsanya and spotlights artists who stretch the boundaries of traditional crafts — Tamar Stone creates books by embroidering women's stories onto corsets and bed linen, Agata Olek Oleksiak crochets interactive site-specific installations, and Jenny Hart embroiders kitschy Americana-inspired portraits. Finally, Laura Militzer Bryant: Crossings consists of new colorful fiber by nationally-recognized St. Pete-based artist Bryant. An opening reception for all three exhibits is held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Fri., May 23.

Florida Craftsmen Gallery presents TAOS: Tapestries from the Tropics, which consists of pieces by members of Sarasota tapestry group TAOS — John Nicholson, Lynne Mayne, Teri Stewart and Becky Stevens. Textures and Forms: Contemporary Baskets includes diverse basketry works by Marilyn Moore, Polly Adams Sutton, Jackie Abrams and Mary Hettmansperger. In Chris Malone: Dolls, the self-taught artist displays tribal dolls that are inspired by African and New Guinea traditions. And the Manasota Weavers Guild showcases fiber or interlacement techniques that utilize coral, shells and aquatic organisms to create personal adornment accessories featured in Pearl in the Oyster. The opening reception for all four exhibits is held from 6 to 8 p.m. Fri., May 23.

The Arts Center exhibitions, May 23-Aug. 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat., 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, free admission, 727-822-7872, theartscenter.org. Florida Craftsmen Gallery exhibitions, May 23-Aug. 23, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tues.-Sat., 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, free admission, 727-821-7391, floridacraftsmen.net.

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