Showtel is a yearly event that is held at Hotel Biba in West Palm Beach, Florida for one night only. It is like an amusement park fun house with many rooms. Many of the artists are young and emerging and some are students who attend Florida Atlantic University. One talented artist attends high school. The art installation event was held in a small unpretentious boutique hotel tucked away from the street and located in a residential area of the city. Its interior decor is brightly colored and intimate. It has a cocktail lounge, bossa nova style and offers weekly events.

Kara Walker Tome, an independent curator organized Showtel. She is also the Director of Artsite. This was her 7th Showtel. The Palm Beach Cultural Council, Honeycomb , and The Armory are a few of the sponsors of the event.

Visitors were encouraged to explore, interact with the individual exhibits located in hotel rooms in three buildings and in the hotel swimming pool. Many of the rooms offered a videotape loop on a flat screen television to complement live tableaux. There were 17 projects.

Highlights

davidKspace created a models dressing room, “the birth of the next cool” complete with models who interacted with each other and with an actor photographer. As visitors entered the space they became participants in the tableau and part of an elegant choreographed dance. Many onlookers in the room had cameras and the lyric, “Whose zooming who…” came to mind!

“Pennies from Heaven” , a droning mantra rained down in a videotaped loop in Laura Atria’s room “12,458 Cents”. She examined the penny as a symbol and states in the show catalogue that, “…no penny is bad luck”…and…”a penny saved is a penny earned”. A piggy bank and pennies with what looked like bullet holes in them were offered to visitors as a keepsake of the art. I took one. She explained that these represent, “The decline of the penny and the fall of capitalism…”.

Melissa Marrero’s videotape was one of the strongest pieces of art in the show and the room’s decor seemed simply a foil for it. I would have preferred to come into a stark white room to view it. It is intimate and the various arrangements of real oranges in tumbling piles in the room split the focus of the work. In it she stitches together pieces of an orange peel. It is a psychological study of the art making process and its subject, phenomena. It is reminiscent of some of Andy Warhol videos, Joseph Boyce sculpture and Vito Acconci conceptual artwork.

Crimson Boudoir, Director, Boudoir Beauties, WPB and NYC, Visitor

Andrew Nigon and Carmen Tiffany used “discarded circus trash” to create a compelling environment. Stuffed animals melted and merged with other unrecognizable but colorful objects to create a Kienholz like stage set. My experience of it reminded me of times when I’ve eaten way too much cotton candy. This was one of the most successful installations and made sense of the architecture of the space as a whole.

“Metanoia in Winter” is art of our time. This was another successful installation by artist Jackie Tufford. She became an object, actor and director of her artwork, a performance piece, a mannequin and mime she called a “forlorn cyborg”. Her sci-fi bug like silver mylar costume was an extension of her environment and it captured the meaning and science of hybridization. Brilliant!

Showtel was fun and it had great attendance. I left it with the thought that art as entertainment could work to save our art institutions in this down economic climate. I say “More”!

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