Inside Ybor’s Czar nightclub.
Saturday night, I went to Dirty But Sophisticated 4 with Avant Garde, the Tampa Museum of Art’s young professionals group. They had finagled a pre-DBS tour of artist Theo Wujcik’s studio as well as early entry to the main event, a collaborative art-and-fashion show featuring the work of 16 local artists and designers.
Theo Wujcik in his studio with Avant Garde members.
We started out the evening at Theo’s new Ybor studio, less than a block away on 9th Avenue from his former studio space. Inside, about 20 of his large-scale canvases from the past two decades were casually on display. After a short presentation, Theo took questions from the group, two dozen strong, about the visual motifs that recur in his paintings: a segment of chain link fence that divides the picture plane into distinct spatial and temporal dimensions, and symbols of the artist’s recent interest in global warming.
Inside the Castle’s dimly lit fetish room.
From there, we walked across 9th Ave to The Castle, an Ybor nightclub owned by Alan Kahana, a friend and collector of Theo’s. Inside the club’s “fetish room,” bathed in red light and featuring such notable attractions as a row of mini prison cells, a spiderweb made of chains, and a defunct electric chair, we saw examples of Theo’s recent orgasm-themed paintings. Drawing liberally from comic book imagery, the paintings playfully allude to the idea of crescendo with fiery blasts and bubble-like O’s.
After a short stop at Urban Outfitters in Centro Ybor, where five of Theo’s most recent paintings overlook 9th Ave and the trolley line, on we went to Czar. An hour and a half before the doors swung open for the rest of the world, we were sipping on complimentary champagne. A tip of the hat to AG for putting together this great preview.
Many drinks and some naughty dance moves later (hey, what happens at Czar stays at Czar), the show finally got started ’round midnight. Designer Ben Chmura got the ball rolling with a collection of sleek, wearable mini dresses (above).
A collaborative team that included Sarasota artists Anthony Zollo and Lynda Bostrom Designer-photographer Marina Williams showcased a two-pronged collection (above and below) divided between ladies in brightly colored rain gear and a back-in-the-day metallic look complete with boom boxes and chunky cassette tapes as medallions. Sarasota artists Anthony Zollo and Lynda Bostrom helped by constructing an installation of life-sized cutouts based on photographs taken by Marina in London. For more images, check out Marina’s Flickr page.
Not to be outdone by his female counterparts, this model (below) had some dance moves for the crowd. (By the way, did I mention that the joint was packed? With a couple hundred people, easily. Runway photos were taken from atop the Czar catwalk without a tripod.)
In an unexpected twist, the runway show turned into a sort of tableau vivant-cum-independent film by Mitzi Gordon and others that recalled a series of narrative photographs on view in Czar’s lobby. The still images pieced together a mysteriously violent story line– smuggling deal gone wrong? love triangle exploded?– that the performance/tableau took up but didn’t resolve.
Finally, designer Ivanka Ska and artist Brandon Dunlap offered up some of the most interesting garments of the evening. I thought this dress in particular (below) was drop-dead gorgeous. The model is also wearing a cape screenprinted by Dunlap; when she shrugged to let it fall down over her, the audience gasped audibly and cheered for the biggest reaction of the night.