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Up-and-coming talents

"RaiseUp2," a vibrant exhibit of emerging young artists' work, offers some wide-ranging takes on reality, but all with a distinctive 21st century perspective.

Published August 3, 2006

[Times photo: ]
Ytje (Arnhem, Netherlands), Flushing Exp, 2006, pencil on paper.


"RaiseUp2" sounds like a traveling tent revival filled with faith, hope and charity. Maybe, in a way, it is. But more specifically, "RaiseUp" is an art exhibition making a two-week stop at C. Emerson Fine Arts beginning Friday through Aug. 18. It then heads to galleries in Los Angeles and Toronto.

Thirty-nine artists around the United States and abroad, young or "emerging," are participating. Each bought in, literally, to artist Mel Taylor's idea to publish a book and arrange for gallery exhibitions for artists who have a hard time getting their work shown.

The fees were minimal, $75 for one page, up to $200 for a four-page spread. Only 300 books have been printed and each sells for $20, inexpensive by catalog standards. It is packaged in an oversized envelope and includes a limited-edition signed print by Tampa artist Tracy Midulla, one of the exhibitors.

Taylor, a Los Angeles artist, received about 400 submissions for the project, which she culled to create the group here.

You can purchase the catalog and see all the art for free (it's for sale, too) at the Emerson gallery. It's eclectic, the variety a barometer for new art being created.

The current most prevalent here is, believe it or not, traditional: figurative and landscape art, often with a narrative thread, drawn, photographed or painted. It's completely 21st century in its interpretations and execution - cartoony and gritty - but its aesthetic of direct observation committed to paper, board or canvas links it to those iconoclasts of an earlier century, the impressionists and post-impressionists.

Some of it is more than edgy. Michelle Spencer's road kill images and Hilldebrando Bellizzio's paint-enhanced photographs of nude women are graphic explorations of violence and pornography.

A few of the artists are familiar. Diran Lyons of Brandon is exhibiting at the Gulf Coast Museum of Art, and Bianca Pratorius of Miami recently had a show there, for example.

Why St. Petersburg, you might ask? Taylor lived here for several years, moving west in November, and she likes what's happening in the Tampa Bay area. And since last year's first RaiseUp debuted in an Ybor City gallery to brisk sales, she wanted to give us another go at experiencing a broad new mix of contemporary art.

As with any large group show in which comparisons are easy and inevitable, some of the work is much better than others. But that's a subjective call. Approach such an exhibition with an open mind and a respect for creativity in all its manifestations, and you will be rewarded by your visit.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at (727) 893-8293 or

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"RaiseUp2" opens Friday at C. Emerson Fine Arts, 909 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, and continues through Aug. 18. A free opening reception is 7 p.m. to midnight. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; noon to 6 p.m. Saturday; or by appointment. Admission is free. A "RaiseUp2" catalog is $20. 727 898-6068 or go to

[Last modified August 1, 2006, 13:13:53]

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