What do these two things have in common? Let me tell you… a week or two back, we were invited out to experience the grand opening of a brand new art gallery right passed Datz on Macdill Ave. called Cass Contemporary. Now, we know what you are thinking, ok so what? Art in South Tampa is cool, but there aren’t big names hanging around Tampa Bay. Here’s where you are completely wrong!


After doing some research on the new digs, I came to learn two important things: It is a high end art studio and space that features both local artists from Tampa Bay and artists from afar. For example, the two artists that were being featured at their grand opening were Chris Valle (UT Professor of Art and talented local artist) and Michael Turchin (an artist from California that flew in for the special event). Now, I asked myself, why does Turchin sound so familiar? A quick google search and it dawned on me that Michael is the recent FIANCE of Lance Bass from N’SYNC (A little Flashback Friday action right about now). The second thing I realized was a close connection to the dynamic duo owners, Cassie and Jake Greatens. Not only did I take classes with Cassie at UT, but their daughter is a student of mine too!


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The night of the event came and we were told “Cocktail Attire” was the dress code. We donned our best outfits, scheduled a Lyft pickup and headed down the street to the event space. Pulling up, we did not really know what to expect, but once inside, we were intrigued by the space. With art pieces on every wall, we quickly surveyed the room and found some familiar faces in the crowd. Eventually, we grabbed a glass of wine and munched on some food from Good Food Catering Company and did a few laps around the space looking at the amazing art on display. After a few glasses of wine, I conjured up the courage to start a quick convo with Lance bass, which eventually led to our meeting of his fiance and one of the main artists of the night, Michael Turchin. Not only is his art really cool and gives off that pop-art type vibe with bright colors and juxtaposition in his pieces, but they both were very pleasant to chat with. Without a question or thought, we grabbed the nearest waiter and asked them to take a few pics of our crew.

Chris Valle had two sort of styles to his work. The first in the main room displayed opposite Turchin’s, were his pieces that centered around high fashion and attractive people. I found these pieces to be nice, but what I thought was REALLY interesting, were the pieces that were on display in the back room showing “Dexter-style” dead bodies inside of plastic bags. Unfortunately, most of these are NSFW and show lots of “the twins”, so I couldn’t post them here. But being a huge fan of the show Dexter, they definitely got my attention. VERY COOL!

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With all of the people at the event, the space got pretty warm, so after sweating out some of our drinks and saying goodbye to our wonderful hosts, we stopped over at Crucellars right down the road from the studio. With only a short time remaining before closing (they close at 11pm on Friday’s…random, I know!), we quickly put in an order and picked at some dishes. It was a nice night of art and company as we “toured” S. Macdill Ave. a bit further. What I mean is, it was beautiful weather and we had had a few drinks, so we were cool with walking home.

The gallery was awesome and I have no doubt that Cassie and Jake have created a great, new place to go if you are in the market for a new art piece. So, the next time you find yourself driving down Macdill passed Datz, stop in at Cass Contemporary to see what artists are on display! Be sure to stop in soon because the Turchin & Valle exhibits are only on display through July 3rd!


And if you are free this weekend, stop by Cass on Saturday, June 21st from 11-1pm to enjoy the new exhibits while sipping on some mimosas. Enjoy!

– Nicholas

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