Big surprises in a small art museum

When traveling - which I seem to do a lot (we've been spending a fourth to a third of recent years in hotels or other travel accommoda- tions) - I always like to check out the local art scene. I may visit local art galleries, pre-arrange visits to the studios of designers or artists, or take in current exhibits at a local art museum.

I hit the jackpot earlier this week in Tampa when I learned that the Tampa Museum of Art had featured exhibits of the works of Maurice Sendak and Keith Haring. I've always been fascinated by the work of both artists. To have exhibits focusing on both in one museum was almost sensory overload.

Many years ago I was introduced to Sendak's book Where The Wild Things Are. This exhibit, WILD THINGS: The Art of Maurice Sendak, displays preliminary drawings and final art for that book and so much more. Original book manuscripts, set designs, personal letters and over 100 other pieces of Sendak memorabilia are included in this beautiful exhibition. A detail description of the exhibit can be found on the site of The Jewish Museum New York, organizer of the traveling exhibition. The show will be available for viewing in Tampa until April 23, 2006.

My other purpose in visiting the Tampa Museum of Art was to view the installation Keith Haring: Art & Commerce, A Tribute to the Pop Shop. The exhibit is a tribute to Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, which closed its doors in 2005 after nearly 20 years in operation and 15 years after the artist’s death from AIDS. Keith Haring opened the Pop Shop in 1986 and sold inexpensive clothing and gift items that featured his unique designs, in a venture that critics viewed as crassly commercial, while Haring’s vision always had more to do with art than commerce. Over 100 examples of Haring's work are on display - from early high school drawings to his familiar T-shirt and poster designs. The show, organized by independent curator Jade Dellinger - in conjunction with the Keith Haring Foundation - for the Tampa Museum of Art, will be open through June 11, 2006.

A special treat was seeing works by designer and artist Ivan Chermayeff in a showing of print work in one of the museum galleries. Chermayeff is a principle in the Chermayeff & Geismar Studio, known for some of the most recognizable corporate identities and logos in the world.

The museum's ongoing permanent exhibit, The Classical World, is very much worth a good look as well. Across the Hillsborough River from the museum is the fascinating and imposing historic Tampa Bay Hotel structure - now the home of the Henry B. Plant Museum at the University of Tampa. Plant, honored by the museum in his name, built the incredible hotel in 1891. We were lucky enough to be given a tour of the beautiful building by Tampa designer (and HOW Design Forum member) Chris Baltzley. The museum and the old hotel are "musts" if you visit Tampa.

Haring Self Portrait © Estate of Keith Haring

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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