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Museum of Fine Arts, SPC to host ‘Art of Politics’ roundtable

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by
Peter Kageyama
Peter Kageyama

Art is a powerful medium of political expression — and has been since the beginnings of recorded history. But in a political arena saturated with terse, ephemeral electronic messages, does art — especially public art in an urban environment — still have legitimacy in fostering civic consciousness and building social capital?

That is a question which a distinguished author and panel will attempt to answer in a forum at the Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive NE. It is sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College. Titled “Art of Politics: A Silent Message in a Tweeting World,” the forum will be from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1. It is co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and WEDU television.

Admission is free, but advance registration is required at solutions.spcollege.edu.

Peter Kageyama, St. Petersburg author and community development consultant, will lead a discussion of the impact of art not just as a form of political expression but also as a statement about the urban landscape in which we live. He will be joined by local artist Derek Donnelly, who creates large-scale murals with an alliance of artists and community leaders through Public Art Project Inc. Donnelly will create an original work during the program. Dr. Tara Newsom, associate professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at St. Petersburg College, will moderate the program.

That art is a form of political expression cannot be denied, the forum’s organizers say. The earliest cave drawings are expressions about human supremacy over animals — or of one tribe’s dominance of another. Political art takes many forms — from dictators’ propaganda banners lining the streets to insurgents’ graffiti surreptitiously sprayed on outdoor walls to Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica, a most powerful anti-war painting. Certainly much of Salvador Dali’s work in St. Petersburg’s Dali Museum is infused with political meaning.

But in the 2016 political arena, dominated by tweets, texts and Instagrams, does public art have the same impact it once did to generate public emotion and influence political opinion? The panel will join in discussing the impact of art not just as a form of political expression but also as a statement about the urban landscape in which we live.

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