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The Spasm Between the Infinities

December 7 - 10, 2006

The Tampa Museum of Art will present a special exhibition by preeminent regional artist Jeff Whipple during Art Basel, Miami Beach, December 7 - 10, 2006. The exhibition, entitled The Spasm Between the Infinities, is a unique art installation combining video, lighted sculpture and painting, that will be showcased at the South Seas Hotel, located at 1751 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. The multi-media installation includes videos projected onto screens in front of the hotel on Collins Avenue, as well as paintings and sculpture in the lobby, corridor and pool area of the hotel. The exhibition videos will be illuminated from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., and open throughout the day for all Miami Beach visitors to enjoy. "This artwork examines the beauty and horror of having a limited spasm of life. The video uses actors, animations and special effects projected on seven screens. The imagery is highly symbolic but also very weird and often really funny," according to exhibition creator Jeff Whipple. 

"This partnership allows the museum to further its mission of advancing the visual arts for the broadest possible audience. All of the artwork will be presented in the artist's distinctive personal style utilizing his iconographic motifs and images," says Ken Rollins, Tampa Museum of Art interim executive director. The Spasm Between the Infinities promises to provide an exciting addition to the variety of events surrounding Art Basel, Miami Beach. The exhibition examines the transitory nature of life, the brief spasm of time between birth and death, with distinctive designs symbolizing human life in search of value and meaning in a limited time frame. 

The Spasm Between the Infinities will transform the beautiful exterior and interior of the art deco South Seas Hotel, located two blocks east of the Miami Beach Convention Center, into an art installation. A video artwork will be projected onto several sculptural screens at the hotel's entrance. Two 8-feet high by 12-feet long hand-painted transparent murals will be installed in the lobby windows on each side of the entrance, and will be illuminated with backlighting. The ocean side exterior of the hotel will have dozens of illuminated light sculptures installed at varying heights around the pool and in the palm grove adjacent to the pool area, and numerous interior spaces will display Whipple's paintings and sculpture. All aspects of the installation will be inter-related, reflecting Whipple's unique visual vocabulary.  

Notable art professionals are eagerly anticipating this upcoming exhibition that will be available to the Art Basel audience of international collectors, curators, museum directors, and art enthusiasts. "It is so nice that the Tampa Museum of Art is introducing a Florida painter, filmmaker and playwright of such repute to the global audience of Art Basel," says Bernice Steinbaum, owner of the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, Miami, FL.  According to Mark Coetzee, director of the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL, "An installation of this nature will, in effect, allow the Tampa Museum of Art to join other major institutions in the dialogue about contemporary art...an opportunity exists here to raise awareness of new media work within the art world on both a national and international level." 

"As a significant cultural arts institution of Florida, it's important for the Tampa Museum of Art to participate in the most prestigious global art event in the U.S. This venue will allow the museum to showcase the caliber of its exhibitions to new audiences, as well as introduce new visitors to our vibrant city," says Christine Burdick, president of the Tampa Downtown Partnership.  

Whipple is a regionally important artist. As a painter, sculptor, filmmaker and playwright, he has enjoyed a distinguished career. Whipple is the only Florida artist ever to receive Florida Arts Council Fellowships in both painting and the literary arts. In March of this year, Whipple presented the seventh installation of the City of Tampa's Lights on Tampa project in the courtyard of the Tampa Museum of Art. A portion of that installation remains on view at the museum and can be viewed nightly. For more information about Whipple and his work, visit www.TampaMuseum.com. 

The Spasm Between the Infinities is sponsored by the South Seas Hotel, owned by the Atlantic Stars Hotels and Cruises, Starbucks, The University of Tampa, Arte 2007 - Tampa Bay's Festival of the Americas, and The Arts - a first-of-its-kind residential arts community in St. Petersburg, FL.  A special opening reception on December 7, from 8 - 10 p.m. at the South Seas Hotel will be open to all Art Basel attendees with VIP passes, and invited guests. The South Seas Hotel and Bacardi are sponsoring the opening reception celebration. 


(above: Jeff Whipple (American born, 1957), Spasm Man, 2006. Digital Photography. Collection of the artist. © 2006 Jeff Whipple)

Biography of the artist

Jeff Whipple has had 70 solo exhibitions throughout the USA and his plays have been in 18 productions. He has participated in dozens of group exhibitions across the country and won numerous top awards in art competitions.

His art has been shown at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, the Jacksonville Museum of Art, the Ringling Museum, the Orlando Museum, the Gulf Coast Museum of Art, the DeLand Museum, the Danforth Museum of Art, the Polk Museum of Art, the Tampa Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

He has won two individual artist fellowships from Illinois and three from Florida. One of the Florida fellowships was for Playwriting. In 2001, he was the first recipient of the annual Fulton Ross Award, a $10,000 grant based on career achievements.

He has been commissioned to create several large-scale public artworks including a 75-foot long video projection on the façade of the Tampa Museum of Art, a 300-foot long mural for the City of Tampa and a 150-foot long mural for the Johnson Library in St. Petersburg.

Whipple received a MFA from the University of South Florida in 1980. He has taught at several colleges including Arizona State University and Northern Illinois University. He currently teaches at the University of Tampa.

Artist's statement

My art presents juxtapositions of images and color that evoke a variety of emotions and themes. The images may guide viewers in a particular thematic direction but I leave the interpretations open ended so viewers can creatively bring their own lives and ideas into the artwork. I often work with themes that range from social relationships to psychological issues to politics and to personal values. But I also work with the pure, simple visual beauty of images and how their new context brings an unexpected focus and appreciation that might otherwise never happen.

I've been using the same style of presentation since the early 1980s and it now unifies thousands of artworks. I combine disparate images in a format that is highly structured yet very organic and versatile. It allows me to consider a wide range of visual images and design elements for each piece. I use the same structure and design in my video, paintings, plays, photography and sculpture.


RL wishes to thank Jeff Whipple for providing his biography and artist's statement.

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Copyright 2006 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.