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Diverse art show features creative women of color

By Cassie Gaudes

On Friday, Oct. 5, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., “The Art of Women: A Celebration of Diversity,” will be held at Centro Asturiano.  The event is 21 and over, and features diverse female artists from the Tampa Bay area.

The event is hosted by Renee Warmack, a Tampa native who attended USF. There will be 15 artists featured, six previously from “The Art of Women: A Celebration of Empowerment,” along with nine emerging artists, some working together on collaborations.

“I also love mentoring and encouraging the artists to mentor each other and collaborate–and they do,” Warmack said. “I really reached out and got more women of color this time, to help the subsets of women involved in the event gain a better understanding of each other’s cultures and paths.”

Many forms of art will be featured from various artists including filmmakers, performance artists, muralists, sculptors, photographers and painters.

One instillation will be a mural allusion, involving some camouflage, by muralist Lakeema Matthew, called Eku jo, an African term meaning “I salute you dance.” Matthew will be playing the cajón, a box shaped Afro-Peruvian percussion instrument, while Monique Wilburn, a professional dancer and actress, will dance.

Brenda Bohannon, a local multimedia painter and interior designer, will be displayed coupled with filmmaker Alexandria Jones, who will be airing a short bio piece on Bohannon she created.

Warmack found Bohannon on Facebook when looking for African American artists. Warmack called her and they met for coffee.

“She’s [Warmack] an awesome lady and she’s full of heart,” Bohannon said. “These women [artists] are awesome, I feel like I’ve met friends for life. I’m excited about meeting even more friends and getting myself out there.”

Jones was in a coffee shop to interview the owner when Warmack came up and introduced herself. They kept in touch and Warmack has been helping Jones, who recently graduated USF with a master’s degree in digital journalism.

“She’s been helping me with my documentary. Trying to get it on tv and other outlets,” said Jones.

Warmack and her spouse Sandi Eveleth, will be producing a mermaid installation starring Susie Pennoyer. Pennoyer, a retired mermaid from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, who currently still performs once a month, will be in her mermaid costume in front of a backdrop interacting with visitors. In addition footage of the Weeki Wachee mermaids from the 1940s will be shown.

Attendees will be able to interact with the artists and purchase pieces to support the artists as well.

Warmack’s intention when organizing the night, was to create a non-traditional atmosphere for looking at art. DJ Shannon C will be playing and there will be a cash bar.

“I know that art, music with a DJ and a dance floor in an historic venue creates an engaging experience that is more enjoyable than a traditional art show where people have to get all dressed up and raise their pinky finger,” said Warmack.

In 2007, her documentary Ten at the Top in Tampa Bay, about female government leaders, aired on PBS and launched Warmack into the local art scene. Warmack formerly had a 20-year career in the government working for human rights advocacy, public relations and program administration.

She founded Renee Warmack Productions, and utilizes the company and resources to help support diverse female artists.

“Through my company, I help women and diverse, marginalized groups claim their power and capture their dreams,” said Warmack. “I use the events and movies I produce and my success coaching program to create opportunities for them to get inspired, get advice, and get connected in order to do that. “

In March she held “The Art of Women: A Celebration of Empowerment” in Seminole Heights in honor of Women’s History Month.

“It was a small space, with more of a black box look,” Warmack said. “It was a huge success. People loved interacting with the artists.”

Her idea for the women in art events stems from her knowledge of unknown artists that need to be unearthed and introduced into the art scene.

“One big thing too, I find as I’m networking, I find artists that need to be promoted. I interview them, and if I trust them, I help them with photos and getting them on the website,” Warmack said. “Some of them are shy and don’t know how to promote themselves. The goal is to promote and empower diverse, emerging, local female artists so that they can make a living doing what they love.”

Warmack loves supporting other women, and that’s what “The Art of Women: A Celebration of Diversity” is all about. This isn’t going to be a stuffy event, but instead a place where people can come together, learn and grow.

“This is a relaxed, fun night to celebrate diverse women, diverse art and to let them express what they wish–to the world where women are still not earning what men earn and where women deserve more opportunities,” Warmack said. “With the Me Too movement, women have more to express than ever before and I love helping to create a platform for that.”

Cassie Gaudes can be reached at cassidy.gaudes@spartans.ut.edu

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