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Weekly Planet
"Rooms With A View"
June 25 - July 2, 1998
Issue - Pg 59
Author: Jennifer Johnson
 
 

Spectacle upstaging substance, even if substance is in attendance; nepotism favoring favor, even if the two are one and the same. That's Tampa artist J.S.G.Boggs, the "Money Man." sHOTEL(L), an art soiree, is Boggs' latest creation. And you're invited.

On Saturday, June 27, under his direction, 75 artists are getting together in a kitschy motel to celebrate art, to make a mockery of art, to get drunk and to try to make a buck.

Participating artists include Carolyn Thompson, 44, who, after a 20-year hiatus, came back to the madness - she quit her day job to make a second shot at a career as a fine artist. Her contribution: "A purposely atrocious horror film," she says. "Low-grade B; it's titled The MulletLady of Hillsborough River.

Then there's Ray Paul, the painter who's more accomplished than many of the rest (he's painted stuff that hangs in the airport!), but he's woefully shy regarding his not-quite describable talent. There is Donald Butler, who aspires to be a "junkie pimp" in Berlin, because "the Tampa art scene is hopeless"

There is Guillermo Portieles, a guy who stroked brushes on body bags in his native Cuba, because there was nothing else to paint on.

There is Barbie Beeler, Tampa socialite, photographer and lamp maker. There is a belly dancer.

There is someone who goes only by "Ski."

sHotel(L) brings together these local artist and 68 others (some winging in from as far away as Europe) this Saturday night at the Tahitian Inn in Tampa. All plan to show you a bit of themselves, a sampling of their work and a nook of the art world that's unsung but determined.

Boggs, a Brandon and New York City-based trompe l`oeil copyist, orchestrated all of this "to make Tampa Bay a place of culture."

The hotel exhibition trend began in Europe and then, naturally, migrated to New York - in NYC, it's called The Gramercy. Every year, a group of artists "rent out a shitload of hotel rooms at The Gramercy (a hotel), open the space to the public and exhibit their work," explains Boggs.

In the toned-down Tampa version, J.S.G.'s group booked 16 rooms at the decidedly unglamorous but inadvertently chichi Tahitian Inn, into which they'll pack their artifacts.

Caroline Thompson's Mullet Lady is perhaps the best metaphor for what sHOTEL(L) is all about. Thompson grew up in Tampa and respects her heritage enough to mock it via the visual equivalent of spoonerism.

"I had this boyfriend - back in the age of creep shows featuring young couples parking and psycho men with hooks for hands," she says. "He would tell me this story about a monster with he head of a fish and a body of a woman. She - it - despised the passion of young Tampa lovers."

Thompson got over the boyfriend, but she never got over the story. So for sHOTEL(L), she made a film about it. Accompanying the cinematic installation. Thompson plans to wallpaper the motel room commode with old Florida postcards depicting alligator nipping at post-war babes in unassuming bikinis

High camp, high art.

Needless to say it was Thompson's idea to hold sHOTEL(L) at Tampa's most stagy motor inn. "Atmospherically, it is perfect," she says. sHOTEL(L) features a who's-who of the Tampa art gaggle, including Tiffany Szilage Gallery at 145 in St. Petersburg, installationist Jon Karl Holm, David Breeze, photographer David Greg Harth, Tom Kettner, caricaturist Ace McVey, Joe Griffith and the Image Brewery's Bob Dorsey.

In addition to the artist exhibits, sHOTEL(L) presents lectures (Szilage and Dorsey are among the speakers lined-up), a panel discussion among the artists and reports on various news from the art world.

Oh, and Bogg's himself is going to do a performance piece in the pool. "Just be there," he says.