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Art was always in techie's heart

By By Sharon Ginn Times Correspondent
Published October 19, 2007


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DOWNTOWN - After two decades as a network engineer, Greg Phillips is interested in forging an entirely different type of network - one where success is not so easy to calculate.

As owner of the new Orange Park Gallery downtown, Phillips is indulging in his lifelong passion: art.

The former Verizon employee knows that art is a passion shared by many in Tampa, and said he hopes to join others in expanding the visibility of the local art scene.

Phillips, who opened his gallery Saturday at 1215 N Franklin St., said one of the first things he hopes to accomplish is coordinating special events several times a year. One of his inspirations is Arte 2007, which will focus on art from Central and South America and the Caribbean on Nov. 3-17 in and around downtown.

"My plan is to reach out to those other galleries and say, this is going to work for all of us if we collectively try to enhance and create these sorts of events," he said.

Phillips' new gallery actually is a business he started in Atlanta.

The 49-year-old worked for Verizon for 18 years - from "the old Bell days" - in New York and Atlanta before taking early retirement and opening Orange Park Gallery.

About two years ago he contracted with Verizon to help the company expand its FiOS fiber-optics Internet network to the Tampa Bay area. He decided Tampa was "a neat city" that had the added benefit of being "warm all the time." He and his wife moved down about a year ago and Phillips operated Orange Park Gallery out of his home, putting on a few shows at different venues.

Eventually he decided the Franklin Street location in the historic Arlington building was ideal for his needs. "They're just starting the revitalization of that block," he said, which is two blocks south of Interstate 275 and across from the Fly Bar.

Orange Park's grand opening party Saturday focused on Russian artist Larissa Makeeva, whose work Phillips showed in Atlanta, and established Jamaican artist/sculptor Basil Watson.

Phillips said he will offer a wide variety of art and is aiming for a quick turnover. He plans new exhibits about every three weeks.

"The focus is not just on local artists, but to offer a full diversification of art and to make Tampa as accessible to the international market as New York or anyplace else," Phillips said.

Hours at Orange Park Gallery are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The gallery's Web site iswww.orangeparkgallery.com.

New Channelside eats and drinks are coming

More places to party and dine are opening at the Channelside entertainment complex, some brought to you by familiar proprietors.

The somewhat controversial McGraw's country nightclub, open only for about six months, has closed to the public and is being transformed into Hook Nightclub, a retro-style club that hosts its first event Oct. 27.

It should be open to the public in mid to late November, said Channelside property manager Kathy Walsh.

McGraw's, which was created by the owners of Channelside's Sling Shots, Banana Joe's, Margarita Mama's and Velvet Room, was criticized in May by Tampa Port Authority commissioners and Mayor Pam Iorio after they heard about some of McGraw's patrons being escorted out by police.

McGraw's opened without port officials' approval, but ultimately did receive it, Walsh said. She said the closing likely had more to do with the concept.

"The demographics for the area I don't think would support a bar of that nature," Walsh said.

In other Channelside business news, popular frozen daiquiri bar Wet Willie's will open a location there, possibly by Christmas, Walsh said.

Wet Willie's is busy transforming a prime storefront on the first floor that was formerly occupied by Hurricane Pass Outfitters.

Also, the owners of Thai Thani at Channelside will open Oishi Japanese Restaurant on the second floor within a couple of months.

It is a never-before-occupied space next to Thai Thani.

Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call (813) 226-3394 or e-mail sharonlginn@yahoo.com.

 

The find:

Creature feature

Here's Ebie, the gargoyle mascot of Tampa Theatre's Restoration Society, named for John Ebenson, architect of the historic theater, and made by T. Oliver Kopian and Creatures of Delight. You can buy Ebie for $25 at the Gargoyles and Ghosts family fun day on Sunday while enjoying crafts, cartoons, a Halloween movie and complimentary popcorn from 2 to 5 p.m. The theater is at 711 N Franklin St. Admission is $5 per family. For more information, call 274-5507.

- Amy Scherzer

 

[Last modified October 18, 2007, 06:45:02]


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