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Fairgrounds’ ‘shrimp space’ and other art news

Bill DeYoung



"Shrimpfinity," the new installation at Fairgrounds. Photos provided.

Fairgrounds St. Pete, the whimsical walk-through, all-Florida art installation inside The Factory St. Pete, has unveiled its first expansion since opening in 2021.

Designed and constructed by the New Orleans “visual engineering team” Milagros, “Shrimpfinity” is, literally, a room full of shrimp imagery “as far as they eye can see.” There’s a six-foot tall shrimp cocktail, a shrimp-shaped disco ball ( a total of 34 shrimp sculptures), and numerous projections of undulating, plate-ready shrimp, all set to a soundscape that includes actual shrimp sounds (which is indeed a thing).

Milagros (Joey Fillastre and Felici Asteinza).

The Milagros collective consists of Felici Asteinza and Joey Fillastre, both native Floridians now hand-crafting art installations out of the Big Easy.

“When Fairgrounds reached out to us, we suggested a shrimp room, because that’s something that’s been in our universe for a really long time,” Asteinza explained. “And New Orleans has definitely amped our appetite for shrimp, for sure.”

Added Fillastre: “We’ve only ever lived in the Gulf South, so we’re really inspired by the aesthetics of Florida.”

The installation, he said, evolved from the initial sketches he and Asteinza submitted to Fairgrounds. There was quite a bit of back-and-forth, and ultimately another concept sketch. “If you saw the two different sketches at a glance, you’d go ‘oh, it’s the same thing. The actual overall idea of it was pretty much the same as the initial thing, but then it got more intricate.

“And in the design phase, we thought of other people to involve – in thinking about lighting and projections and that type of stuff – and that kind of informed the direction from there.”

Jessica Bizer (a St. Pete native who lives in New Orleans) created the animations, Fairgrounds’ Mikhail Mansion created projection maps, and musician Tristan Whitehill (of Gainesville) crafted the shrimp soundscape.

“Its very ethereal and ambient, and kind of electronic,” explained Fillastre. “But the base of most of the sound is shrimp noises.”

Fairgrounds website.


Fresh Squeezed

At the Morean Arts Center, the Fresh Squeezed exhibit- an all-Florida multi-media art show – is in its seventh year. For the first time, all six participating emerging artists are women.

According to Chief Curator Amanda Cooper, more than 120 portfolio submissions were received for the 2023 Fresh Squeezed exhibit. After a series of studio visits and interviews, the final participants were chosen. It’s the first solo gallery exhibition for each.

The artists:

Work by KJ Skidmore

KJ Skidmore, Tampa. A USF graduate student whose drawings and paintings explores gendered tropes and forms of voyeurism. Her works often include multimedia sculptural components.

Laura De Valencia, Tallahassee. A Colombia born lawyer turned multidisciplinary artist with a BFA in advertising design from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and an MFA from Florida State University.

Latonya Hicks, Clearwater. She is the Secondary Technology Integration Coordinator for Pinellas County Schools. Hicks says she “collects people as well as objects and uses them to tell a story she doesn’t quite know the end of yet.”

Deborah Perlman, Hollywood. Abstract geometric wall-mounted sculpture, emphasizing shadows, using a variety of materials including paper, plastic, wood, aluminum wire, wire mesh and photographs.

Work by Leeann Rae

Leeann Rae, Orlando. Drawn images with charcoal and soft pastel – she “utilizes photographic references, imagination, recounted stories and her own lived experience as vessels of recollected memories.”

Denise Treizman, Miami. Sculptures and installation-based works combining found objects and ready-made materials with brightly colored, textural, and sometimes luminescent weavings.

Morean Arts Center website.












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