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Dirty, but not so sophisticated

There was no unifying theme at Dirty but Sophisticated 2, a local art and music event that took place at the Czar in Ybor City on Friday night. But that’s the way the organizers of the show wanted it to be.

Everything – the bands, the art, the fashion and the DJs – had a unique voice, and the show merged hip-hop, indie rock, political art and visual stimulation.

The artists featured used diverse mediums to target assorted subject matter. Many of the works were political in nature, such as Dave Rau’s series of eight transfer prints titled “An Error Has Occurred.” Through the use of images of robots, tanks and old fighter planes, the antiquated look of the works tackled a very contemporary problem of a government gone awry. Josh Bertrand’s “War is Big Business,” also a print, is similar in its message. The layered composition shows a sharply dressed businessman with the muzzle of an assault rifle for a head and the ominous words “muzzle velocity” printed parallel to it. Obstructing the full view of the capitalist, his midsection is lost within wave and floral motifs customary to Red Labor, a collaborative effort of Bertrand and Rau.

Bringing the art closer to home was Jaisen Crockett’s photograph “Closing time at the Orpheum.” Crockett’s Photoshopped endeavor shows the late nightclub scene of a bar fight. Through the use of clean color and effective lighting, the panoramic and all-inclusive work manages to fit about a dozen people, each in a different stage of observing the ruckus – a sight, no doubt, taken from real life.

Another photographer, Ryan Prado, presents a series of highly compositional portraits, including “Ms. Hurst, Take a Letter…” and “Eye Candy.” His works reach back to the 1950s and the time of pinups for their inspiration, presenting the models in highly eroticized but deliberately arranged poses. By using clean lines, tight cropping and complementary color combinations, Prado brings a trendy, voyeuristic touch to his works.

Probably the most distinct of all the pieces at the show was a series of three wood stains by Chris Deacon, titled “Growd Up.” Deacon’s naive, almost cartoon-like style, reminiscent of Robert Crumb, gives personality to his pieces, each featuring a different aspect of aging: an old man with a gut, a beat-up barn and a set of two retro lamps.

Bringing Asian influence to the show was Josh Taylor’s duo of works, “Water Dragon” and “Complimentary Koi,” in which fish and dragon elements were seen in emaciated human bodies.

The show’s musical lineup began with Auto!Automatic!!, a trio of indie rockers Brian Larsen on guitar, Alex Fedelle on drums and Nate Murray on bass. Fedelle’s guitar was, at times, evocative of The Strokes, though the band is more beat oriented, making the bass more than just a background instrument. Also playing at the show were D’Visitors, a funk band of eight – including a vibraphone and a horn section – with sultry front woman Nikki Ferraro; hip-hop artists Breakdown & Ran Mecca, who threw reggae and afro-beat into the mix; and the Spam Allstars, a jam band with a driving force of samples and skills by DJ Le Spam (Andrew Yeomanson). Rounding out the music scene were five DJs from the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, including DJs Blenda, Cub, Mega, Slopfunkdust and Tanner.

Contributing to the range of mediums was a fashion show of clothing designed by Tampa Bay locals Sauver and Gioia. Dominating the runway were short skirts, printed men’s jackets and shirts, see-through tops and lingerie-inspired garments. While the fashion was interesting – though not always publicly wearable – the models who showed off the styles were in such a hurry to get off the stage that the catwalk seemed more like a cat-run.

Despite so much artistic talent floating through the jam-packed interior of one of the trendiest clubs in Tampa, one thing seemed to be missing – genuine interest from the audience. The crowds showed up, that’s for sure, but their concern for anything but alcohol was doubtful. Surely some of those who attended had a sincere interest in the work displayed on the walls, but the overall atmosphere at Czar on Friday night was one of general indifference toward art. It was an event at which who you know and how you dressed determined your personality more than who you were.

It’s sad to see when so much talent goes by unnoticed. Surely, those who matter – gallery owners, aficionados or critics – saw it and commented on it, but the majority of those who attended seemed to not even realize that the night was devoted to displaying blossoming talent from the area.