The arts are back in the nondescript building between two dog parks in Gulfport. The Gulfport Arts Center is preparing to host its first art exhibit under the leadership of the Gulfport Historical Society. Gulfport themed exhibit, Show us your Gulfport, opens on October 7th and is currently accepting submissions.
This won’t be the first time the little white building at 2726 54 St. has organized an art event. But the new Gulfport Arts Center will be unlike the city of Frank Hilbrandt’s imagination and Caroline Duvoe’s Abstract Art for Autism.
What Hibrandt once called “a plain ugly white box,” GAC Steering Committee Chair Marissa Dix calls it a blank canvas “ready to be painted and created by the colorful and creative personality of Gulfport and its residents. his”.
City of Imagination aspired to change the way people see art. Abstract Art for Autism hoped to empower neurodivergent individuals with art. The new Gulfport Arts Center, like most community art centers, wants to provide art for everyone, including children.
The last time The Gabber wrote about the Gulfport Arts Center, in April 2022, the Gulfport Historical Society was still assembling a steering committee. Now that they have one, including art professionals and led by Dix, things are moving forward.
When Dix first heard about the Gulfport Historical Society’s intention to reopen the Gulfport Arts Center, she immediately thought of children. An elementary school social worker by day, Dix joined the steering committee to provide input for the children’s performances and art classes.
“I feel like kids, even in school, if you ask them what their favorite subject is, they say ‘art!'” Dix told The Gabber, “because they get creative.”
Scrolling through Gulfport’s Facebook group feeds, Dix also noticed that parents were looking for opportunities to make art with their kids in Gulfport.
She is already planning a children’s art show for the holidays.
Professional artist and steering committee member Kelli LaPuma is excited about the opportunities the center will offer to children and professional artists.
“I think it will open up more opportunities for artists, plus the ability to share art with young people to help them learn to express themselves through art,” LaPuma told The Gabber.
GAC presents opportunities for both professional artists and children with its first two art exhibitions.
Tracy Midulla of Tempus Projects juried the first exhibition, Show us your Gulfport, an all-ages show that encourages artists to create works that express what Gulfport means to them. According to Dix, there are about 30 spots in the exhibit, and five to six of them are already filled. The artist that Midulla chooses for Best of Show wins a cash prize. How will she choose?
Midulla says he’s looking for the best all-around part.
“The best crafted, the most thought out, a piece that fits the theme,” she told The Gabber. “When you see it, you just know it.”
Midulla is well known for showing the strongest acts in Tampa. We wonder if it is possible to create something attractive about the topic Show us your Gulfport.
“I think it’s possible to be nervous, says Midulla, “but I think it’s important for a jury to understand the qualifications, and I don’t think the skirt should always be the main attribute, but the skirt doesn’t hurt. I think nervousness would fall under thinking. I really feel like it should be thoughtful.”
If you are an artist interested in submitting your work to GAC for Show us your Gulfport, you can view the call for entries online via the Gulfport Historical Society website and direct your questions to [email protected]. The Gulfport Merchants Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the expo, which will have cash prizes for top entries.
The holiday show, featuring art by school-aged children, is next. Dix says they are in the early stages of planning this one.
“We’re hoping the opening will coincide with the tree lighting at Clymer Park,” says Dix. “We want to make it non-denominational, so it’s not like a children’s Christmas art show, but like a holiday art show that embraces not only Christmas, but the holiday season in general.”
They already have something specific planned for younger children through the City of Gulfport’s school-age holiday camps. Next, they hope to enter into discussions with local high schools to see what kind of work these students would be interested in doing. Next she plans to contact some high school drama or theater clubs to see if they would be willing to design some party sets for the show.
“We have to keep thinking about what’s next,” says Dix. “I’d like to see something for Black History Month — a black artist opening or a black art opening. Something like that.”
Dix is most excited that GAC provides opportunities for artists of all kinds.
“This is a city of artists — that’s the identity of Gulfport, in general,” Dix says. “Just reopening the center and giving everyone access [is exciting] – first-timers, established ones, children, all ages.”
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