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St. Petersburg’s Fairgrounds announces artist roster

Tampa Bay Times logo Tampa Bay Times 1/12/2021 Maggie Duffy, Tampa Bay Times

Fairgrounds, an immersive art and technology experience, is in the home stretch: It’s set to open in St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District this spring. Recently, the roster of more than 65 artists whose work will fill the inaugural exhibition in the 15,000-square-foot space was announced in a news release.

Billed as a “choose your own adventure destination,” Fairgrounds combines the work of artists and technologists to create a world “celebrating weird, wacky and wonderful Florida.” It’s housed at the Factory St. Pete, a creative destination home to artists’ studios and local nonprofit organizations, including Keep St. Pete Lit and the Shine Mural Festival.

Last May, Fairgrounds put out an artist’s call for submissions and gave stipends to artists chosen to create work for the project.

“With a name that references traditional Fairgrounds as a place for exhibiting new ideas and recognizing talent, we are excited to be doing just that by collaborating with more than 65 incredible artists and to have commissioned new artwork from them during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fairgrounds CEO and co-founder Liz Dimmitt said in the release.

The roster includes National Geographic Tampa-based photographer Carlton Ward and St. Petersburg artists Jabari Reed-Diop (a.k.a. iBoms), Nick Davis, Cecilia Lueza and Chad Mize.

“I’m passionate about using my platform to tell Black stories and having my work at Fairgrounds allows me to bring those stories to a large and diverse audience,” Nick Davis said in a statement emailed by the organization. “Fairgrounds’ clever integration of my digital illustrations into their immersive landscape is exciting because it is a new way and context for people to experience my work.”

Tampa artists Macy Higgins, a.k.a. Macy Eats Paint, and Emiliano Settecasi collaborated to create an immersive, mixed media installation celebrating strawberries and the culture of the fruit’s production in Tampa Bay.

Fairgrounds signature installation, Floridarama, features more than 20 artists’ dioramas. Many of them were on display at the Factory St. Pete’s First Look event last month. Participating artists include Calan Ree, John Gascot, Judy Vienneau and Saumitra Chandratreya.

Guests at that event also got a sneak peek of the Lampscape installation consisting of white lamps illuminated with blacklights and Shay Willard’s television network, Kippy and Kappy Network of Happy, that will play on televisions in a motel room installation.

The release stated that Fairgrounds is a “pioneer” in integrating technology into the experience, with an in-house team of technologists developing new technology to enhance the artworks.

“Creative coding is how Fairgrounds brings stories and artwork to life by orchestrating an ecosystem of lights, projection, sounds, games and interactive electronics,” Mikhail Mansion, Fairgrounds Chief Creative Technology Officer and co-founder, said in the release. “By working closely with some of our exhibiting artists we are able to expand their practice and seamlessly blend traditional modes of expression with technology.”

Fairgrounds will continually evolve, with installations and exhibits cycling in and out over time. It will also feature events, workshops and creative education programs.

When the attraction opens, artists will continue to be paid through a profit-sharing model from ticket sales.

For the full roster of artists, visit fairgrounds.art/artists.

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