By LOIS KINDLE
During the month of August, the Firehouse Cultural Center is offering a variety of classes, events and entertainment sure to shake out anyone’s summer doldrums. Just because there’s a pandemic going on doesn’t mean you can’t get out to have some fun.
“Everybody’s hungry for the experience of sharing something, whether it’s to have a conversation with someone, test one’s gray matter, create something with a group or simply be around others,” said Beth Stein, the center’s marketing and programming coordinator.
“We are communal beings who thrive on shared experiences, so what we are offering are small classes and gatherings in a big space,” she continued. “And we are practicing all safety guidelines and going above them, to keep our participants safe.”
Everyone entering the building must be masked and will be temperature-checked. Hand sanitation is also required at one of multiple stations throughout the center.
The Firehouse Cultural Center’s event calendar includes the following programming for kids and adults in August:
• Artist-instructor Dee Hood will host Painting Studio, a multilevel, adult class in acrylic painting, Aug. 12 through Sept. 16. The fun and flexible six-week class will take place Wednesdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Adults and teens of all skill levels will work with representational painting, abstraction and collage and learn to improve their use of color, composition and technique.
All materials will be given to students to take home.
The cost is $150 for members and $175 for nonmembers.
• Artist-instructor Barry Goodman will host Painting with Watercolors for students of all levels from 1 to 4 p.m., Aug. 12 through Sept. 16. The class will explore the use of color and a variety of brush strokes and techniques. Materials to be taken home are included.
The cost is $150 for members and $175 for nonmembers.
• Award-winning poet, John Davis Jr., will lead a three-day Poetic Process Workshop, Aug. 13 to 15 from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants will go through every step of creating and publishing their own poems. The workshop will include topics like overcoming creative blocks, working from a prompt, polishing an initial draft and more.
Class size is limited. The cost is $60 for members and $75 for nonmembers.
• From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays or 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, from Aug. 18 to Sept. 8, adults can relax and learn to create interesting art pieces out of clay. The class includes the basics of forming clay through pinching, coil building and working with slabs and then how to distress the forms they shape.
Students also will be introduced to wheel throwing.
Clay, tools, glazing and firing are included. The cost is $135 for members and $165 for nonmembers.
• Clay & Play for kids and teens, ages 6 to 17, will be much like a during- and after-school experience. Participants will, of course, be broken into appropriate age groups.
Younger children will meet from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and youth ages 12 to 17 from 4 to 6 p.m., Aug. 20 through Sept. 10. Parents interested in Saturday classes for their younger children are invited to call Stein at 813-645-7651.
As in the adult pottery class, students will learn the basics of forming clay through pinching, coil building and working with slabs. They will then combine what they learn to make some fun shapes and make several pieces for them to take home.
They also will be introduced to the pottery wheel.
Clay, tools, glazing and firing are included. The cost is $115 for members and $130 for nonmembers.
All classes are limited in size due to social distancing requirements, and seats must be reserved. There will be no walk-ins.
Nothing changes an outlook like a good laugh, and there will be plenty of laughter Aug. 21, when comedians Mike Rivera and Jeff Gerbino take the Firehouse Cultural Center stage at 7:30 p.m.
Rivera, aka America’s most hilarious teacher, will school everyone with what he calls his trademark “teachable moments” that keep the audience in stitches.
And Jeff Gerbino, one of America’s best new comics, has been seen on Good Morning America and Comedy Central. Michael Keaton calls him “the poor man’s Jay Leno.”
If you’re into something free, the Firehouse Cultural Center and the Henry B. Plant Museum will feature “Upstairs/Downstairs: The Tampa Bay Hotel,” at 2 p.m. Aug. 22. Actor Otis “The Bishop” Freedman will bring to life the workings of Henry Plant’s grandest luxury, railroad-resort hotel, which opened in 1891 during the height of America’s Gilded Age, and provide a behind-the-scenes look at its more than 300 employees.
Once again, RSVPs are required.
The presentation is made possible by a grant from the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.
That evening at 7:30 p.m., performer Jimmy Griswald will perform his high-energy brand of rockin’ blues.
“You will think you’ve seen Jeff Beck, Duane Allman and Roy Buchanan, all in one night,” Stein said.
The show has reserved seating only, and a cash bar will be available.
The cost is $23 for members and $28 for nonmembers.
And finally, performer Nathan Coe Marsh will present Real Virtual Magic in the comfort of your own home via Zoom, Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Experience your front row seating as he features sleight-of-hand illusions, mind tricks and amazing magic that actually happen in your living room with you.
The household pass limit for this live event is 100, first-come, first served.
Admission is $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers. For an additional $10, Marsh will perform an interactive magic lesson following the show.
For more information or to reserve a seat for any of these offerings, call the Firehouse Cultural Center, a nonprofit organization supporting arts and education for the South Shore community, at 813-645-7651. RSVPs and payments may also be made online at www.firehouseculturalcenter.org.