FROM TAMPA BAY TIMES BLOG (Leigh Armstrong's So Tampa Bay): (12.04.08) The art scene has definitely been on the upswing this year with a lot of groups trying to make art galleries the place to be. For the most part, they've succeeded and made an art showing a viable alternative to another night at an Ybor City bar. Virgin 2.0 at the Ritz on Saturday (12/6) could be the biggest one yet. With the typical indie artists from around the Bay present, there will also be a fashion show, a performance by the odd, but entertaining, Jeremy Gloff and a rhythmic yoga demonstration. It's got a mix of all the eccentricity that makes Tampa Bay so unique. It definitely could be the best art event of the year (I'll save my judgment on that for after) and you can assume the this will be scenester central, so make sure your clothes are hip and chic.
This was a definite fashion lovers weekend. The amount of art and clothing that were on display at Virgin 2.0 at the Ritz and the Artist Invasion in Williams Park was enough to make your head spin. For those of you who missed out on all the craziness, I feel sorry for you but you do get to check out a few visuals to remind you of why a weekend spent at home isn't really a weekend.
At Virgin 2.0, it was packed to the brim with people and the performances were hot and happening pretty much every 30 minutes. The University of Tampa dance group, Wired, were one of the first groups to go on after being led to the stage by an opera singer. It was surreal and just looking at them made me think of a crazy New York art school.
Tips on how to create a good fashion show that I got from Melissa Ora-Ath:
1. Lots of models with alternative hair styles.
2. Lots of smoke.
3. Make sure the soundtrack is suitably indie and electro.
4. Shine purple lights everywhere!
No, it's not interpretive dance Adrienne Reed and Jason Moriarty are doing. It's a yoga performance. This just blew my mind. The moves that they were able to pull off wowed me. Overall, I'd say Virgin 2.0 at the Ritz was a massive success and culminates what has been a great year for art in Ybor City.
Virgin 2.0 will fill the newly restored Ritz Ybor with original works by more than 85 Tampa area artists, musical and dance performances, and fashion shows, all intended to help reinvigorate the local arts scene.
"There is rebirth in Ybor City and the Ritz Ybor has been very supportive. [Virgin 2.0] is a tribute to them," said co-organizer Okesene Tilo, executive director for the Florida branch of Square One Creative, an art and design collective based in Tampa and New York City.
"It's more than just an art and fashion show," he said.
The foyer of the Ritz will serve as an art gallery for works revolving around the themes of rebirth and awakening, while the remaining rooms will host performances and fashion shows. The event is free, but a portion of the proceeds from art sales will benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Many of the works included in the show prominently feature the color pink to reflect breast cancer awareness.
"The event is an art piece in itself," Tilo said, adding that the festivities are intended to be family friendly. "Come and open your mind to what Tampa has to offer through its arts community."
Musical performances include appearances by classical and jazz musicians Jamal Corrie, Marcy Hopp & Friends and All That Jazz, along with a special set by pop artist Jeremy Gloff, who will be accompanied by a string ensemble.
The University of Tampa Dancers will perform throughout the venue accompanied by the operatic sounds of vocalist Suzanne Alvarez, who will make her grand entrance down historic Seventh Avenue.
"It's hard to break out of that stigma of Ybor, but the Ritz isn't a nightclub — it's a venue, and this is art," said co-organizer Jason Pierce Moriarty, vice president of Florida Square One Creative. Moriarty will have artwork on display and perform a fusion of yoga, dance and art with Namaste Yoga Studio during the event. "Art is for the community, and people should come and support [the scene]," he said.
Virgin 2.0 will be catered by local restaurants, including popular Ybor City spots such as Spaghetti Warehouse and Mema's Alaskan Tacos.
While the event's name can be taken as a reference to some of its participants — for example, a runway show will feature the debut of "virgin" fashion designers J. Alfonso and Melissa Oraath, along with pieces by Tragik Designs — organizers hope it's primarily a reflection of the area's cultural renaissance.
"Art enriches our lives," said Moriarty. "My personal purpose is to just bring back the arts."
In 10 years, Adrienne Reed, a petite brunette with a firm handshake and purposeful smile, has accomplished an impressive resume: owns her own business; has an organic clothing line on Home Shopping Network; stars in a television series for PBS along with videos available on Amazon.com; is co-authoring a book and is now angling to find a spot on Dancing with the Stars.
And she's doing it in a field that 10 years ago might have made her cringe: yoga.
"Before this, I worked in Silicone Valley for 11 years," said Reed, owner of the New Tampa Yoga studio Namaste Yoga. "I was a successful businesswoman in corporate America. After I had my kids, I knew I didn't want to be in the rat race. A friend of mine kept asking me to try yoga; I really didn't want to. I didn't think it was for me. Finally, I said that I would try it if she would stop asking me to go to these classes. I went to one class and I didn't stop going. I loved it!"
On Saturday, she and yoga partner Jason Moriarty will perform a choreographed duet based on power yoga poses during Virgin 2.0, a multimedia art and fashion extravaganza at the Ritz Ybor in Ybor City.
"What we came up with is music, art and yoga fused together," Reed said. "It was great to challenge myself in that way. It's not easy working with a partner, we do some very difficult poses together. You have to have a lot of trust."
Virgin 2.0 organizer Okesene Tilo, the executive director of Square One Florida, pulled together modern dancers, an opera singer, a 16-year-old classical composer, a jazz band, a dance troupe and dozens of local artists for the eclectic show.
"I'm not an artist, but I do have a lot of creative ideas," Tilo said. "The show's theme was my idea. When the University of Tampa dancers showed me their routine for the first time on stage, I definitely had input. I made suggestions and they liked them. So I guess in that way I'm artistic."
One of Okie's many artistic contributions to Virgin 2.0 is the Pied Piperlike entrance opera singer Suzanne Alvarez will make Saturday evening as she walks down Seventh Avenue — her booming voice entreating passersby to follow — eventually stopping at the final destination, The Ritz. Built in 1917, the decades-old theater will symbolically come to life as Alvarez makes her entrance and the dancers — who will be pressed against the building's facade as if part of it — begin to peel off the exterior and follow Alvarez inside via a modern dance.
A typical Saturday night in Ybor? Not by a long shot.
Reed, a single mom with two kids, will rely on her seemingly endless supply of energy for the show. Her forte is power yoga, which is less focused on the meditative aspects and concentrates on improving strength and stamina through a series of intensive poses.
Namaste Yoga has drawn professional athletes as well as locals who just want a different way to work out. As the trend factor of yoga has subsided a bit, more people are drawn to yoga for the long-term reasons, Adrienne said, especially stress relief. "With the economy the way it is, people have anxiety and they're turning to yoga to relieve that."
Adrienne Reed and Jason Moriarty's choreographed yoga routine is one of the many eclectic acts at Virgin 2.0, a collaborative art extravaganza starting at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Ritz Ybor, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. The free event will feature food from Mema's Alaskan Tacos, Spaghetti Warehouse, Streetcar Charlie's and Stonewood Grill and Tavern. A portion of art sales will benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation. squareoneflorida.com.
For more information on Adrienne Reed, visit adriennereed.com.
Virgin 2.0 part of Ybor City's artistic rebirth
Amanda Moore, Correspondent
The painting by Linda Alexander, is just one piece featured at the Virgin 2.0 event.
After the largest art festival in Tampa — the Gala Corina — was canceled, its absence left another event aimed at reviving Ybor City’s creative scene in the spotlight.
And so, Virgin 2.0 was born.
Err, born again.
Virgin 2.0 is a night of art, music, dance, fashion and food that benefits the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Its name is a play on the words “Version 2.0.”
Okesene Tilo, Florida executive director for Square One Creative, the producer of Virgin 2.0, said the event couldn’t have come at a better time.
“A huge majority of artists participating in Virgin 2.0 are artists who were looking forward to and creating new work for Gala Corina,” Tilo said. “There is a huge void now that the biggest art event in Tampa is not taking place this year.”
Twenty artists will present works themed around the concept of rebirth and renaissance, all featuring the color pink for breast cancer awareness.
Tilo said Ybor is undergoing a rebirth as local businesses try to restore the historic district’s reputation as the artistic capital of Tampa.
Square One Creative was formed with the vision of bringing exposure to local artists.
“I believe Ybor is once again in transition — and for the better,” said Tony LaColla, president of the Historic Ybor Neighborhood Civic Association. “There is a rebirth here, and Ybor is going to emerge better than ever.”
Ybor business owners are striving to make a change in Tampa’s oldest neighborhood and the negative nightclub reputation is drawing to a close, said LaColla.
Square One Creative recruiters personally selected the majority of the featured performers while a few others responded to an open-call audition, said Tilo.
Virgin 2.0 includes performances by University of Tampa’s dance department, Suzanne Alvarez, Namaste Yoga Studio and Jeremy Gloff and fashion designs by Melissa Oraath and Tragik Designs.
Stonewood Tavern & Grille, the Spaghetti Warehouse, Mema’s Alaskan Tacos and Streetcar Charlie’s Bar & Grille will cater the event.
Admission is free and all ages are encouraged to attend. Doors open at 7 p.m. Saturday and the festivities continue until midnight. For more information, check out squareoneflorida.com.