A last look at the Tampa Museum of Art

Friday's Art After Dark at the Museum of Art was more than an exhibit. It was a farewell.

By AMBER MOBLEY, Times Staff Writer
Published January 19, 2008

TAMPA -- Clear balloons reflected light and danced in the fountain Friday night outside of the Tampa Museum of Art.

Color, patterns and projections emblazoned the building's once-blank exterior, which seemed an eager partner.

Inside, works of art hung on the walls, lay on the floors, dangled from ceilings and shouted from speakers, as art lovers mingled to music and paused to say goodbye.

It was the last Art After Dark at 600 N Ashley Drive.

Demolition day is Feb 1.

Groundbreaking for the new building next to the Curtis Hixon Downtown Waterfront Park is scheduled for March with the new building set to open in fall 2009.

In total, the waterfront location costs $33.5-million, with $18.5-million coming from community investment taxes and the rest coming from gifts and donations, said Steve Klindt, director of development and public affairs for the museum.

A six-year fundraising effort has finally paid off, with pledges and donations enough to cover the museum's share of the cost, he said.

For museum enthusiast Min Nemoy of New Tampa, the wait will be long.

"I wish the new one was open or at least have broken ground. ... My museum's homeless," said the 32-year-old with streaks of hot pink hair.

Not so.

Until the new location opens, the museum moves into the 95-year-old Centro Espanol de West Tampa building at 2306 N Howard Ave. It will reopen there March 7.

"Everything that we're doing now, we're going to keep doing," said Klindt.

The new museum, a 68,000-square-foot building, will have room for more exhibits on a rotating basis and larger group gatherings. And it will be less expensive to operate, Klindt said.

But Friday night, hundreds jammed into the old building to see works by 50 artists in an exhibit called "retro/perspectives: Looking back, Looking forward," which was co-hosted by the museum's young members' group Avant Garde.

Ten installations centered on demolition and reconstruction.

Near the entrance, a hanging lightbulb shone atop a beach-ball sized, stark white egg snuggling in a nest of carpet and twigs. Hovering above, the broken framework of a wood and metal roof hung, with white plaster hands dotting the air, grabbing at chunks of drywall.

One hand touched the egg.

On the wall in the background sprawled controlled chaos: among it a hamburger, designs, turquoise and yellow.

"It's a mix of the old and new coming together," said artist Linda Bostrom who conceived Build and Destroy with Anthony Zollo, a fellow student at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota.

The workactually included pieces of the museum itself.

"We really took it to heart that we got to rip up the building," said Bostrom.

Amber Mobley can be reached at amobley@sptimes.com or (813) 269-5311.