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Sunday, Jun 17, 2018
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'Five By Five' sale showcases tiny art at Tampa museum

Be at the Tampa Museum of Art on Friday for a fundraiser that is both tiny and huge.

The artwork is small, the expected crowds and the benefit to local artists, huge.

It's the second running of “Five by Five,” a show and sale of more than 700 original artworks no bigger than the eponymous title. The pieces are all donated by established and beginning artists, and here's the fun part: there's no way to tell who's is which. All the art work is unsigned. So buyers must pick a piece purely because they love it, hoping at the same time it might turn out to be by a well-known artist. Each piece goes for $25.

Why small?

“Artists are asked all the time for donations to one charity or another,” said Terri Simons, director of program services for the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, promoters of the event along with the Artists Advisory Board. “That's why for this event we asked for a small work.”

This year, the “Five by Five” event also will feature a variety of five-minute live performances of music, dance and theater during the night, all donated by local performers..

“So what you end up having is an event that involves all the artistic disciplines donating their talents to create an evening where all the disciplines are enjoyed and it also raises money for individual artists of all disciplines,” Simon observed.

All sale proceeds go toward funding the yearly grants the Arts Council awards to individual artists in a variety of disciplines.

Last year's event raised $9,625. Supplemented by monies from the county, it allowed the council to award $14,000 in grants to eight artists. Because of “Five by Five,” Simon anticipates giving $20,000 in awards this year.

The council began awarding the grants in 1989. It has awarded $640,335 to 390 individual artists in dance, folk arts, literary arts, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts.

“In 2011, there were simply no funds, and the individual art grant had to be suspended,” Simon recalled. “And it was because of that lack of funds that the Artists Advisory Board came up with this idea. That was truly the beginning of 'Five by “Five.' ”

Last year's inauguration of the event was an overwhelming success, with crowds much larger than was expected. So this year, the exhibition area will be in a much bigger room, where moveable walls and special displays for three-dimensional works will allow more room for walking around and viewing the art. Also, there will be more volunteers to assist purchasers.

And of course, there will be more art.

“Last year we allowed three pieces per artist, and we ended up with 604 works,” Simons explained. “This year we limited each artist to only two pieces and we still got 725 entries.”

Although the majority of art is by artists from the greater Bay area, some was also sent from other states, and 10 pieces came from eight artists from other countries.

“An artist from Liverpool sent in an animation short film, which we will be showing during the evening,” Simon said. It is not for sale.

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