Spring Arts 2006

What to Watch For

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Emigrants: We in the Bay area don't get many chances to see work by Slawomir Mrozek, the Polish playwright best known for his absurdist classic Tango, about the triumph of ruthless power in a world of decayed values. Emigrants (1974) is a much different play, about the interdependence of a left-wing intellectual and a worker. Does this production portend further stagings of little-known European plays by the new Acorn Theatre? If it does, local theater may be in for an infusion of energy. May 4-21, Acorn Theatre, Centro Ybor, 813-728-5324.

Mark E. Leib

Ink & Blood: The Florida International Museum hosts an extraordinary collection of biblical artifacts: fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, pages from the 1455 Gutenberg Bible, the letters of St. Jerome, Sumerian cuneiform tablets and others. These are the objects that helped unleash a tide of faith that, for better or worse, holds sway today. Until May 14, Florida International Museum, St. Petersburg, 244 Second Ave. N. —Travis Wilds

Middle Passage: The late African-American artist Tom Feelings left a powerful legacy in the 1995 picture book Middle Passage: White Ships/ Black Cargo. His black and white illustrations are both beautifully rendered and horrific: Using tempera, pen and tissue, he graphically represented the inhuman conditions suffered by enslaved Africans on the brutally long ship journey to the Americas. This show at the Holocaust Museum offers a rare chance to see the original version of the mixed-media works that were reproduced for the book. Opening Sun. Jan. 29, 3 p.m., Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth St. S., St. Petersburg. 727-820-0100.

Maurice Sendak at TMA: Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak's 1964 children's epic about a boy who journeys to a savage island, is just one product of a 50-year career that's encompassed not only illustrating and writing but also designing sets for operas. TMA's exhibit boasts original illustrations, costumes and sets, and you can become a wild thing yourself in a savagely decorated reading room. Jan. 29-April 23, Tampa Museum of Art, 600 N. Ashley Drive. 813-274-8130. —TW

Aperture at 50: Since the early 1950s, the journal Aperture has been a premier showcase for the world's greatest photographers, and this show at the MFA gathers nearly 150 of their signature works. You name 'em, they're here: Minor White, Cartier-Bresson, Nan Goldin, Mary Ellen Mark — it's the photography All-Star Team! Feb. 4-April 30, Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive N.E., 727-896-2667.

Cities And Stillness: The Gulf Coast Museum offers a complementary mix of shows in February. Tampa expatriate Josette Urso has lived in NYC for 18 years, and the works on view here include both landscapes and city scenes. Bianca Pratorius trains her eye on a city sight that's increasingly common in these parts: buildings under construction. And Richard Currier's large, evocative still lifes capture a quality which is increasingly rare: peace and quiet. Feb. 25-April 23, Gulf Coast Museum of Art, 12211 Walsingham Road, Largo, 727-518-6833.

Keith Haring: Art & Commerce: A timely show from independent curator Jade Dellinger that pays tribute to the unique mix of art, heart and industry that thrived until last September in The Pop Shop, the NYC emporium created by the late Keith Haring to showcase and sell his artworks to the masses. The masses responded: In the space of his tragically short life (he died of AIDS at 31), his exuberant iconography showed up everywhere from subway walls to the Whitney Biennial, from T-shirts to stamps to murals all over the world. March 19-June 11, Tampa Museum of Art.

Renee Stout: Admired by one critic for her "dense, nostalgic, subtly political tableaux," D.C.-based Stout is a big enough deal to warrant two shows in St. Petersburg this spring. At the Arts Center, you can experience her intriguingly titled Readers, Advisors and Storefront Churches beginning in April, and at the same time there'll be another show of Stout's work at Studio@620. April 7-May 26, Arts Center of St. Petersburg, 719 Central Ave., 727-822-7872; April 7-28, Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S., 727-895-6620.

David Warner

St. Petersburg Chamber Music Festival: A chamber music lover could starve between live concerts here, but the St. Petersburg Chamber Music Festival, in its very first year, has come to the rescue with a rich and varied feast. The coup is an all-Mozart concert by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, one of the world's most distinguished ensembles. Feb. 3, Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 727-822-3590.

Van Cliburn, the Next Generation: This spring, our region will be the stomping ground of several piano virtuosi — some mega-celebrities, others newly hatched. First up is Alexander Kobrin, the newly minted Van Cliburn Competition gold medalist, in an all Brahms & Rachmaninoff program. Like the pianist-hero whose imprimatur he's received, Kobrin espouses a splashy Romanticism. Will Kobrin reach Van Cliburn's heights? You be the judge. Feb. 4, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 727-791-7400.

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