I went to the Flight 19 gallery in downtown Tampa yesterday to see a double show of photographs and paintings. The gallery is in the baggage house of the Amtrak station, in a space the city of Tampa recently donated to the artist collective Experimental Skeleton. Back when I lived in Ybor City, the previous incarnation of this collective, Titanic Anatomy, had an entire floor of the former Corral Wodiska cigar factory as their studios, located next door to me. They hosted many great events there throughout 1994 and 1995, including art shows, performances, concerts, film screenings and parties. All I had to do was walk across the street to enjoy them.
Noticing this cover story in the Weekly Planet last week, I was happy to read the collective has continued to operate in Tampa and has just begun to use the space at the Amtrak station. The show they have up now is a double feature, with manipulated photographs by Mark Mothersbaugh, "Beautiful Mutants," and a small but outstanding selection of paintings by Giancarlo Rendina, entitled "Steeples." You can see a close-up of one of Rendina's fantastic paintings in this review of the show (the yellow & red painting on the upper right-hand corner, mis-labelled as being by Mothersbaugh).
I spoke with Rendina for a while in the gallery and it turns out we were both at USF during the same time and had various friends in common. He had been at the same Blake Babies, Buffalo Tom and Sonic Youth concerts I had seen at USF. He mentioned Steve Albini had done the sound for the Sonic Youth concert when they played at USF for their Goo tour. Albini was working with the Jesus Lizard, who opened that night for Sonic Youth, and decided to do the sound for the entire show.
No wonder that concert stands out as one of the best I've ever seen. I saw Sonic Youth play again, at the USF Sundome, opening for Neil Young & Crazy Horse, and in NYC but that show in a small campus theater was amazing. Watching Lee Renaldo and Thurston Moore on opposite sides of the stage as they played off Kim Gordon's bass helped me understand the massive and precise wall of noise they so beautifully manipulate in their songs. I think of that night as one of various emblematic moments from that "era," approximately 1990-1994.
Rendina laughed when I mentioned my affinity for the art openings at USF's Contemporary Art Museum as an undergrad. He agreed they were the best place to find free liquor and snacks and to see friends and great art on Friday nights. The first time I saw Jean Michel Basquiat's work in person was at one of these openings.
It's wonderful to know Experimental Skeleton is active in Tampa. I look forward to seeing what other shows and events they'll bring to their Flight 19 gallery space.
My favorite dictator now has a blog. Absolutely brilliant. Could blogging help spark the revolution within the revolution? Pásame ese lactop, chico...