Out with the Old
This week is your last chance to catch the Tampa Museum of Art's 25th anniversary exhibit. TMA@25: The Collection showcases the permanent collection and the history behind its evolution over the past quarter century. Focus is on the museum's chief collecting areas, which include Greek and Roman art, modern and contemporary photography, paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and studio glass pieces. Visitors can peruse works by legends like Ansel Adams, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Chuck Close and Florida's own James Rosenquist, as well as local lights William Pachner and Theo Wujcik. All of the artworks are grouped thematically throughout the museum's 13,000 square feet of gallery space. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tue.-Sat., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sun. Through Jan. 2. $7 adults/$6 seniors and military/$3 students and children/free entry to children under 6. Tampa Museum of Art, 600 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa, 813-274-8130.
On Sept. 11, the Florida Holocaust Museum opened Arie Galles' Fourteen Stations/Hey Yud Dalet, a collection of black-and-white drawings derived from World War II aerial photographs of concentration camps taken during both Luftwaffe and Allied reconnaissance missions. These aerial renderings offer what has been described as "God's view" of the Holocaust landscape. The images are framed in wrought iron forged with impressions of barbed wire, and each is accompanied by a poem by Jerome Rothenberg hand-printed by Galles over a shadow view of the camp. The drawings are Galles' Kaddish (a Jewish prayer of mourning) for members of his family and for all those who perished in the concentration camps. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon to 5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Through Jan. 9. $8 adults/$7 seniors and students/$3 kids 18 and younger. Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth St. S., St. Petersburg, 727-820-0100. Both museums are open New Years Eve and closed New Year's Day.
Art in Stitches
The Studio @ 620 is a new creative venue in downtown St. Petersburg that focuses on multicultural events exploring history, visual arts, crafts, music, poetry, theater, film, dance and dialogue. The venue's inaugural event, Grand Ma's Hands: One Hundred Years of African-American Quilting, opens to the public as part of the First Night celebration this evening. Grand Ma's Hands features an exhibit of 37 quilts created between 1880 and 1970 by African-American quilt artists. Guests can also see two unique bark cloths from the Kingdom of Kuba (located in Zaire, Africa) and admire the abstract designs of the Gee's Bend quilts, produced by a group of women living in the isolated, African-American hamlet of Gee's Bend, Ala. Other diversions include demonstrations of African strip weaving and appliqué, community quilting groups, theatrical performances by local actors and more. As part of the opening night festivities, the Hallelujah Singers perform a program of Juba, music from the Gullah heritage rooted in West African traditions and language, and brought by the slaves to Georgia and the South Carolina Sea Islands. (You may recognize founder and current member Marlena Smalls -- she played Bubba's momma in Forest Gump.) The opening takes place from 5 to 11 p.m.; regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tue.-Sat, and the exhibit and programs continue through Feb. 13. The Studio @ 620, 620 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg. For a more complete listing of First Night happenings, check out our New Year's events page.
European Song and Dance
In 1937, the Duquesne University Tamburitzans was formed by 12 young men who loved playing the tamburitza, an Eastern European stringed instrument similar to a mandolin. Since those early days, the group's members have tripled in number, but one thing hasn't changed -- the performers are not professionals, but rather full-time students from Duquesne who now receive grant consideration for their participation in the ensemble. These students attend classes during the week, and on weekends perform shows from coast to coast, averaging about 80 each year, a hectic schedule that requires a vast amount of self-discipline as well as physical and mental endurance. Yet, from what I've heard, the Tamburitzans accomplish this feat with the bravado of seasoned veterans, despite the fact that none of them has performed with the ensemble for longer than four years. The Duquesne University Tamburitzans' repertoire of music, song and dance reflects traditions from over 100 nationalities, and is dedicated to spreading the cultural heritages of Eastern Europe and its neighbors. The program, directed by Paul G. Stafura and Dimitar Manov, has been lauded by The New York Times as "a joyous explosion of youth and spirited dance and music." 7:30 p.m. Mon., Jan. 3 and Wed., Jan. 5. $20 general/$17 students and members. Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, 324 Pine St., Tarpon Springs, 727-942-5605.
Lions and Tigers and Clowns, Oh My!
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus stops in Tampa this week with the 135th edition of "The Greatest Show On Earth." My very first circus experience was with Ringling Bros. almost 18 years ago, an outing I remember distinctly as a dazzling and almost overwhelming explosion of sights, sounds and smells. I'm pretty sure that in this respect, the show hasn't changed. There are still three rings' worth of 360-degree diversions by performers that include the Misers, a daredevil husband and wife team; Bello, a Sarasota native identified by Time magazine as "America's Best Clown"; and the Windy City Acrobats, a group performing incredible feats of balance and agility. Additionally, there's an all-access pre-show event where you can hang out on the arena floor with trapeze artists, elephants and an assortment of clowns while attempting to perform not-so-daring circus stunts. And while there, why not pick up one of the thick, colorful circus programs to commemorate your experience? You can fill it with autographs from the performers if you so choose, and add a nice element of tangible nostalgia to your day at the circus ('cause if you're like us, you never know when you'll get around to going again). 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Fri.; 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sat.; and 1 and 5 p.m. Sun., Jan. 5-9. $12-$30. St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa, 813-223-1000.
A Royal Classic
Stefanie Powers, of Hart to Hart fame, stars in the latest touring production of The King and I, which hits the stage at Ruth Eckerd Hall beginning this evening. Set against Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic score, The King and I takes place in the exotic capital city of Bangkok during the 1860s, and tells of the burgeoning relationship between the powerful and stubborn King Mongkut, and Anna, a strong-willed woman hired to serve as his children's governess and tutor. The musical is based on the not-so-real life adventures of English widow Anna Leonowens and the best-selling novel, Anna and the King of Siam. Audiences can look forward to such familiar numbers as "Hello, Young Lovers," "Shall We Dance?" and "Getting to Know You." The King and I portrays a sort of East-meets-West culture clash and, to some modern audiences, it also embodies the condescending imposition of democratic customs and ideas on Western culture. Regardless of its implications, there's something undeniably charming about the fantastic unreality and glorious excess of it all, and you can experience it for yourself anytime this week. 8 p.m. Wed.-Thu., and 2 and 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Jan. 5-8. $37-$57. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater, 727-791-7400.