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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: Tampa’s River Gallery

Rowing Renoirs. Paddling Picassos. Van Goghs on the half shell.

Soon, crew members from northern colleges will converge on Tampa with oars in locks and paint brushes in hand. The world is their oyster, the Hillsborough River their canvas.

In an age when “scholar athlete” is an oxymoron, these crew members/budding artists from the north remind us that athletes can indeed be well rounded.

Tampa U A Look at the University of Tampa from the east side of the Hillsborough River

Take a gander at the waterfront near the University of Tampa. Most available space is covered by distinguished crests, college names and catchy slogans, all displayed in hues spanning the color wheel. Lasting works of art, each of them, all done by athletes in training.

These artists leave the frozen waters of the north for Gulf temperatures so they can get a head start on training for the spring season.

Training in Tampa is inviting to crew members. They can workout where the weather’s great and there are things to do when they aren’t practicing. Like painting, with some risk.

These crew teams map out their designs, buy their paint, and wait until it’s dark to take to the Hillsborough River under moonlit skies. Talk about team building. Their results represent togetherness, cleverness and an element of mischief.

Some might argue these works are those of vandals. I beg to differ.

Yes, public property is being defaced here, but hey, at least it’s being done tastefully and in exchange for a public service at that. Why pay to see St. Petersburg’s Dali Museum when you can see the River Gallery for free. Diehard surrealists can read whatever they want into the depictions instead of having Dali do it.

Art is in the eye of the beholder. And I love the treasures hanging in this particular gallery.

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