Follow the orange shoes

Back in 1999, a group of artists and architects wanted to showcase their works outside the stuffy, traditional gallery setting. Thus, the Gala Corina was created, named after the Corina Cigar Factory in Palmetto Beach where the event was first held.

The Gala Corina will kick off its sixth year in Tampa on Friday and feature more than 100 artists and exhibits. The grassroots organization presents this year’s theme, ser Libre, as featuring an ample variety of artistic mediums.

The ser Libre show boasts art displays including paintings, drawings, photography, architecture and sculpture. In addition, expressions such as spoken word, live music, animation and film will take place. The organizers hope ser Libre is “a powerful blend of art, architecture, expression, beauty and harmony for 2004 in Tampa, Florida.”

The goal of the Gala Corina community is to give emerging artists a chance to showcase their work and establish a name in their area of interest.

Often, an unknown artist will have their work hanging next to some of Tampa’s highly established artists.

“I’m just looking to get my name out there. That’s really what I am here for,” said Jon Wilson, a photographer displaying dream-like pictures of Paris. “This is supposed to be a really big year for this show. You’re one of 100 artists, and just kind of throwing your hat out there, and who knows what is going to happen,” he said.

All of the artists featured must donate 10 hours of their time to set up the event. However, unlike many gallery shows, the artists are able to keep the profits made from the sale of their work.

In past years, the Gala Corina has drawn large crowds on opening nights and invigorated the show and its artists to continue their grassroots efforts. The show has helped launch the careers of some local artists, and is a confidence booster for those emerging into the scene.

The ser Libre grand opening celebration on Friday will include live music from DJs T and Blenda, Unconcious Flux, Byrd Street Players, and Tribal Style. Although the show technically ends at 11 p.m., a street party will be held until 2 a.m. featuring DJ Tommy More. During all the musical performances, guests are free to walk around and admire the artists’ work in the gallery space.

The two weeks of events after the opening will feature a free independent film festival, experimental shorts and animation, music by DJ Mega, and a mixer with food and drinks.

The Gala Corina ser Libre opens Friday, Nov. 5 at 4 p.m. The event will be open Nov. 5-8, 12-15, 17, and 20 in the old Badcock furniture showroom beneath the historic Arlington Hotel located at 1219 North Franklin Street in downtown Tampa. Admission is free to the public, but a $2 donation is suggested. The artists closing party will be held on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m., and is open to the public.