Your weekend arts forecast: Pirates, etc. in Tampa

It’s Gasparilla Pirate Fest time again – No. 119, for those keeping count – across the bay. Never mind that its namesake (a pirate called Jose Gaspar) never existed, or that there’s no historical record of boatloads of scurvy buccaneers (no, not the football-playing kind) “invading” the City of Tampa.

Why let pesky facts get in the way of a good time?

Saturday’s flotilla of boats and barges (dutifully noisy and decked out in pirate gear) lands at the Tampa Convention Center at approximately 1 p.m., at which time Mayor Jane Castor will play along and “surrender the key to the city.”

From 2-6 p.m. comes the focal point of the celebration. According to the City, 300,000 people attend its annual Gasparilla parade, making it the third-largest parade – of any sort – in the entire country.

The 4.5 mile parade starts at the intersection of Bay to Bay and Bayshore Blvd. The parade winds along Hillsborough Bay into downtown Tampa, with more than 100 floats, plus marching bands and participation from more than 50 social organizations. Beads are tossed, shouts are shouted, music blasts and fun is had; it’s been compared (favorably and in a family-friendly way!) with Mardi Gras.

Then it’s over the Brorein Street Bridge and north on Ashley Drive – and to the parade zenith at Cass and Ashley. There’s live music on two stages, and all sorts of vendors at nearby Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, and adjacent MacDill Park, all day.

Related events: The annual children’s parade was held Jan. 21; organizers of the annual Gasparilla Music Festival are looking for a fresh venue and have not announced a date for 2023.

For info on parking, and all other Gasparilla-related queries, click here.

Jennifer Christa Palmer and L. Davis in freeFall’s “The Agitators.” Photo: Dalton Hamilton Lighting Design, LLC.

New at freeFall

Opening Friday at freeFall Theatre is The Agitators, Mat Smart’s historical drama about the unusual friendship between Frederick Douglass (L. James) and Susan B. Anthony (Jennifer Christa Palmer). “Young abolitionists when they met in Rochester in the 1840s, they were full of hopes, dreams, and a common purpose.” Previews at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday; opening performance is Saturday at 7 p.m. The Agitators will run through Feb. 26. Tickets.


Continuing theater

Shakespeare’s Hamlet continues to break attendance records at Jobsite Theater (in Tampa’s Straz Center), while the Pulitzer Prize-winning Crimes of the Heart is doing extremely well at American Stage in St. Pete (look for more on Crimes of the Heart elsewhere in today’s Catalyst).


The classics

This weekend’s Florida Orchestra concert features soprano Madison Leonard performing alongside TFO on Mhler’s Symphony No. 4, and cellist Maximilian Hornung soloing on Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Schedule: 8 p.. Saturday, Mahaffey Theater; 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Ruth Eckerd Hall. Tickets and info here.

Select movements from the Mahler will be performed at the Straz Center (Morsani Hall) Friday at 7:30 p.m. Admission is “pay what you can” for the event, with conductor Michael Francis playing your host and guide for “Inside Mahler’s Symphony No. 4.”

With Mark Sforzini conducting, the Tampa Bay Symphony will be in Ferguson Hall, in the Straz Center, Sunday with a program titled Innovation and Freedom. Program for the 2:30 p.m. concert is Gershwin in Concert; Afro American Symphony by William Grant Still; Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11 (tickets). This program will repeat at the Palladium Theater Tuesday (Jan. 31). Sforzini will discuss this music, the Tampa Bay Symphony and more on Friday’s Arts Alive! podcast, here at the Catalyst.

A number of classical and opera singers, and classical musicians, will perform Sunday (5:30 p.m.) as part of Classic Black, a benefit for the Woodson African American Museum of Florida. All the details are here.


Visual art

Glass artist Duncan McClellan was one of the driving forces behind Clearly Collaborative, a unique exhibition opening with a 5 to 7 p.m. reception Friday at the Florida CraftArt Gallery. It’s subtitled “A Master of Glass Meets Masters of Craft,” and that pretty much explains it: The selected artists received blown glass vessels from McClellan, as well as access to his DMG School Project commercial sandblasting booth and other tools needed to combine their work with his.

Here’s who took part: Lucrezia Bieler (paper, Tallahassee) Joyce Curvin (mixed media, Palm Harbor) the late Paul Eppling (Metal), Pamela Fox (Jewelry, Sarasota), Dominice Gilbert (metal, St. Petersburg), Nneka Jones (mixed media, Tampa), William Kidd (veramics, St. Petersburg), John Mascoll (wood, Safety Harbor), Charlie Parker (ceramics, St. Petersburg) and Sue Shapiro (ceramics, St. Petersburg).

Said McClellan in a prepared statement: “I think it is important for an artist to give back to the community. I have been fortunate in my career, and many people have shared their inspirations and talents with me along the way.

“These collaborations are a way in which I can not only offer artists working in other media the chance to explore the magic of glass, but I am also inspired by their innovations, creativity and techniques. Artists must keep growing and expanding their perception, and sometimes this needs to be done by creating a communal opportunity for shared vision.”

Joined by guitarist LaRue Nickelson, the dynamic jazz duo Orilla (Ona Kirei and Alejandro Arenas) performs Friday at DRV Gallery in Gulfport. Tickets for the 7-9 p.m. “Art of Music” show are available here.

Digital artists McArthur Freeman and Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman will be at The Gallery at Creative Pinellas Saturday to talk about their extraordinary exhibit Imagine Blackness. Read all about it here.


More music

Catch St. Petersburg pop-makers Kirk Adams and Ed Woltil at the Palladium Side Door Friday. Here’s our story from earlier in the week.

Vocalist Billy Gilman, from TV’s The Voice (and the hit single “One Voice”) plays the Floridian Social Club Friday. The Catalyst spoke with Billy G this week.

Acoustic guitarist and bluesman extraordinaire Roy Book Binder is back at the Palladium Saturday. Tickets.

Weekend concerts at Ruth Eckerd Hall: Chris Botti, Friday; Air Supply, Saturday. At the Capitol Theatre (a Ruth venue): Big Band of Brothers (with Allman Brothers Band bass legend Jaimoe), tonight; Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra, Friday; Al Di Meola, Sunday. All tickets

Your weekend arts forecast appears every Thursday in the Catalyst

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Bill DeYoung

Catalyst Senior Writer and Editor Bill DeYoung was a St. Petersburg Times correspondent at the age of 17. He went on to a 30-year career at newspapers in Florida and Georgia. He is the author of "Skyway: The True Story of Tampa Bay's Signature Bridge and the Man Who Brought it Down," "Phil Gernhard Record Man," "I Need to Know: The Lost Music Interviews," "Vintage St. Pete: The Golden Age of Tourism - and More" and "Vintage St. Pete Volume II: Legends, Locations, Lifestyles."

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