Make us your home page
Instagram

Review: Cass Contemporary exhibit pairs newcomers with established artists

TAMPA

Painter Jason Pulgarin could not contain himself when he first walked into Cass Contemporary's gallery. Hanging on the wall was Love Me, his first piece displayed in a professional gallery. Turning to the man who had brought him there, internationally recognized artist Tristan Eaton, he broke down and wept.

The 27-year-old's tearful debut was a positive sign for Cass Contemporary's current show, "Paint It Forward." Gallery owners Cassie and Jake Greatens asked 15 established artists to hand-pick one lesser-known artist of their choice, their work to be displayed as a pair.

Their objective was to give a leg up to artists like the Brooklyn-based Pulgarin. The end result, while thematically and visually scattershot, is knit by a warm sense of bonhomie and mutual regard. It's the look of a community celebrating itself.

In the art ecosystem that Cass Contemporary fosters, there has been plenty to celebrate. Many of the artists in "Paint It Forward," including Eaton and Pulgarin, represent a strain of contemporary painting which proudly claims graffiti and other illegal public arts as forebears. Their work is kissing cousins with the modern mural movement. Several of the show's headliners, including St. Petersburg's Ales "Bask" Hostomsky, have been using the Tampa Bay area as their easel for a while now.

As a result, many of the pieces in "Paint It Forward" share street art's colorful, baldly iconographic style. It's an aesthetic tailored to a modern urban environment. But in its gallery-bound incarnation, the work reveals higher levels of resolution, detail, meaning.

A few pieces, like Magis Habent Virtutem by Mad Meg, stand out for a quietness of approach. It combines zodiacal symbols and intricate lettering, sparsely arranged on what looks like real vellum (as in, fresh off the baby calf). It's not vellum, but the piece's delicacy rewards close examination anyhow. The interlocking symbols trace the outline of a spectral womb.

But the show's emphasis is on relationships, extroverted and familial, and the best pairings illuminate a connection between the artists. Pulgarin's piece hanging next to Eaton's, for example, shows a very natural anxiety of influence. (They've had a bona-fide master-apprentice relationship for a decade.) Others show a gutsy disregard for the pecking order, like the thrilling moment when a guest rapper upstages the star on his own track.

There is, though, a different path to chart — a rejection of any sense of hierarchy or competitiveness. Some pairings look as if they arrived at the opening hand-in-hand, in matching getup. Gregory Siff's Girl and SEK's Untitled both have gold spray paint applied to black-smudged backdrops, with rhythmic chalk scrawls echoing across the two canvases. Together, they work wonderfully. Apart? Who knows. But maybe that's the lesson of "Paint It Forward." You don't have to go it alone.

>>Review

Paint It Forward

The exhibit runs through March 31 at Cass Contemporary, 2722 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. (813) 839-7135. casscontemporary.com.

. Review

Paint It Forward

The exhibit runs through March 31 at Cass Contemporary, 2722 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. (813) 839-7135. casscontemporary.com.

Review: Cass Contemporary exhibit pairs newcomers with established artists 03/02/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 5:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Recipe for Chicken Wings with Coconut Sweet Potato Puree

    Cooking

    This dish is an homage to one of my favorite Epcot International Food and Wine Festival dishes: Grilled Beef Skewer With Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree from the Patagonia kiosk. A boniato is a sweet potato with whiter flesh and a typically sweeter flavor. I use standard sweet potatoes in this recipe, plus a little …

    Chicken Wings with Sweet Potato Puree. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor.
  2. The 'Total Eclipse' song from the '80s you never knew you loved

    Blogs

    Depending on when you read this, you are eagerly awaiting the eclipse or have seen all the commotion come and go for the first total solar eclipse across America since 1918. Without any doubts, sometime today you will probably have a chance to hear Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse Of The Heart, but here at Stuck in …

  3. Hollywood lost a serious filmmaker in Jerry Lewis

    Movies

    The day the clown died, Hollywood lost a serious filmmaker in Jerry Lewis.

    Jerry Lewis in 2005. Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91 (New York Times)
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 22

    Events

    Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market: With live music, vegetables, fruit, baked goods, herbs, teas, plants, crafts and handmade jewelry. 9 a.m., Gulfport, along Beach Boulevard, Gulfport. Free. (727) 902-2326.

    SP_347707_KEEL_NAYMARKETS_SCOTT KEELER (12/20/2011 GULFPORT) 1. Shoppers choose various produce items recently at the Gulfport Fresh Market. The market is held on Tuesday mornings.      TIMES PHOTO SCOTT KEELER
  5. My plan for the #solareclipse at 2:51 pm today

    Blogs

    "Marion, don't look at it. Shut your eyes, Marion. Don't look at it, no matter what happens!"