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Saturday, Nov 18, 2017
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'Five by Five' exhibit brings hundreds of tiny works to Tampa museum

The Tampa Museum of Art nourishes the local art community in a big way Friday with an Art after Dark fundraising event that not only showcases art in a diminutive size, but also highlights cooperation among disciplines. Called "Five By Five," the event features an exhibit of visual art in a 5-by-5-inch size, and several five-minute presentations by artists in film, dance, theater and music. The show contains a good portion of watercolors, oils, acrylics, and photographs. But there's also metal work, wood sculptures, jewelry, stained glass, fabric art and intricate paper works and sculptures. The idea for the show is the brainchild of the Artists Advisory Committee of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County.
A call for submissions that went out in July has resulted in a whopping 600 works from artists throughout the United States and the world; a healthy percentage comes from local artists. Each hour during the event will feature five-minute presentations by the performance artists. Two five-minute films by local artists will play on a loop in the meeting room. And the visual art will hang in the first-floor classroom and perhaps beyond. Don't expect to see titles or artist signatures on the artworks. There aren't any. Each piece is anonymously displayed; once purchased, the purchaser gets to see everything about the piece and the artist. "It makes it a little more fun this way," said Terri L. Simons, director of program services for the Arts council and also the liaison between the Artists Advisory Committee and the council. "It creates a little more excitement for those people who collect a particular artist or for people who want to buy a friend's art." Through the sale of the art, the committee hopes to raise money for individual artist grants and workshops that are awarded through the council. "Each piece is a flat $25, which is a little more affordable," Simons said. "So in this way we're encouraging people to start to collect art." There are some well-known local artists among the participants; but you won't know who unless you happen to buy a piece of their art. The event has been in the planning stage for nearly a year. "This is the first time anything like this has ever been done to our knowledge," Simons said, "and we weren't sure how many people would participate." Response was slow at first. Then, on the last day to submit, 200 works of art came in. Simons and her staff were overwhelmed. And their photographer, Roberta Schofield, was in California. "We needed images of the works for our website and for the video loop at the event that will show every piece," Simons said. "So we called the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and asked for help." Two volunteers from FMoPA's photo league answered the call. One of the best things about the event might be the good vibes of cooperation it represents: the Tampa Museum of Art lent the space; the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts put out the call for help and two local photographers responded; hundreds of visual artists donated work; lots of performing artists will donate time and talents Friday night. And everyone is feeling good. "The visual artists that have been coming in here have been so excited about the event," Simons said. "They feel good about being part of a larger community." Admission is $10; free to museum members. Art purchases can be made using cash, checks or credit cards. Go to www.fivebyfivetampabay.com to learn more about the event and to play your own guessing game as to what piece of art belongs to which artist.

Special correspondent Esther Hammer can be reached at ehammer@tampatrib.com

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