Ringling Museum of Art Offers Community Fun

Museums, whether they are about science, history or art, provide a fantastic service to the community. They give us a chance to educate ourselves through visual learning and by actually immersing ourselves in a subject, instead of reading about it.

Located on 5401 Bay Shore road, right in front of the bay, is the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The museum was built by John Ringling. It opened to the public in 1931. Ringling was also one of the five brothers which operated the famous circus often called, “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

“The couple bought property here in 1911, built a home in the 1920s and then built an art museum,” said Assistant Director of Academic Affairs David Berry. “He left it to the people of Florida when he died in 1936.”

Visitors can view art collections that come from European, American and Asian backgrounds, as well as circus material from Ringling’s past, which is located in a separate building.

“The European collection goes from antiquity to present day, the American collections are particularly strong in modern and contemporary art, and the Asian material also spans centuries,” said Berry. “We have an extraordinary range of circus material. There’s a railcar that is 80 feet long, circus carriages and a collection of circus posters as well as other material.”

The museum obtains their collections and exhibits through donations and purchases. A lot of the pieces showcased inside the museum came from the Ringlings and that set the foundation for the rest of the collections.

“It’s different collections throughout the year,” said Berry.

One thing that makes the museum stand out from others is that Ringling built it to replicate a European style of architecture. In the courtyard of the museum, one can see various replicas of Greek and Roman culture. This aesthetic includes a bronze duplicate of Michelangelo’s David. The statue stands against a beautiful backdrop of palm trees and the Sarasota Bay. It’s a sight that is seen as soon as museum goers open the doors to the courtyard.

“The two historic buildings, the house [Ca’ d’Zan] and the art museum, reflect the architecture of the Italian Renaissance,” said Berry. “It’s a circus impresario’s take on the Italian Renaissance.”

The house that the Ringlings built, Ca’ d’Zan, is an exquisite building that represents a Venetian Gothic style vibe in its architecture. The construction of the house finished in 1926. It is five stories tall with 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms.

“The house reflects the personalities of its creators, John and Mable Ringling,” said Berry. “It’s an extraordinary building, which makes a lot of sense when you consider that you’re talking about a showman who brought entertainment to the masses.”

The museum also offers many tours, one of which includes a tour of the Ca’ d’Zan.

“It [the tours] tends to be one of the easiest and most interesting ways to engage with the collections and the galleries,” said Berry. “We have set tours for the museum of art, the historic home and the circus museum.”

Admission to the museum for adults is about $25, out-of-state college students with a school ID can get in for $5, children over the age of five pay $5 and Florida teachers with an ID can get in for $10. Museum members get in for free.

“We offer students from local universities, including USF, free admission with ID,” said Berry.

Tampa welcomes Bay Area Renaissance Festival

Hear ye, hear ye. The Renaissance Festival has officially made its way back to the Bay Area. This year, the festival is celebrating 39 years of existence. What started as a small get-together of Renaissance style partying and contests, evolved into what is loved by many today.

The festival opened its gates Feb. 10 and will continue to run through March 25. Operating hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every weekend, including Festival Friday on March 23. It’s located next to the Museum of Science and Industry and directly across USF.

It features 12 stages of various comedic Renaissance-themed shows, arts and crafts, roaming musicians and food that reflects both traditional and modern times.

Kiersten Lyons, a festival employee who has traveled with them for many years, expressed her excitement over the event.

“I absolutely love the fun freedom of all the different walks of life that come through here,” she said. “Anybody from the U.S. to the U.K. comes here. It’s an amazing event.”

Entertaining festival-goers this “statue” stays on his podium for most of the day. Photo taken by Yara Zayas.

Once you enter, you are immediately transported back in time. Everywhere you look you can see people dressed in Renaissance attire, speaking phrases like “huzzah” or “good morrow” and you may even see someone who will address themselves with a title of nobility, such as Lord or Lady.

“You got to get here! It’s awesome, it’s amazing to celebrate your heritage and your history,” said Lyons.

The gates have opened. #timetraveler #bayarearenfest

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The event also features several activities that kids and adults will enjoy.

You can practice your ax throwing, try your hand at archery, ride a camel, test out your strength with a hammer game and do some bungee jumping. Also, if you know where to look, you’ll even find a mermaid cove or get a chance to have a photo taken with a unicorn.

“The mud show’s great, the jousting’s great, and they have a human chessboard,” said Lyons. “It’s absolutely wonderful. You get the best of everything around here.”

Lyons also made sure to mention how many of the people who put shows together make their living that way.

“The shows are definitely a great experience,” she said.

Festival-goers can also enjoy the shops that can be found throughout the grounds. You can find items such as swords, magic wands, hand-made mugs and art pieces from local artists all up for purchase. Prices vary with each vendor.

Most vendors and food booths accept credit and debit cards. However, you should always bring some cash. For convenience, there are ATMs available throughout the park.

The event offers seven differently themed weekends such as Pirates & Pets, Time Travelers, Shamrocks & Shenanigans, and Barbarian Brew Fest.

Travel back in time to the 16th century by visiting the Bay Area Renaissance Festival! With 12 stages of live…

Posted by Yara Zayas on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

If you’re interested in attending, tickets vary in price. Adult tickets are about $22, students with a valid ID can get in for about $18, and tickets for kids cost about $14. They also offer a military discount with proper identification.

Parking is always free for attendees, courtesy of MOSI.

Pets are also allowed inside the park after terms and conditions are met.

For more information visit the Bay Area Renaissance Festival site at http://www.bayarearenfest.com/.

New boba store hopes to appeal to USF students

With the rising popularity of boba, it’s no surprise that people can now enjoy a spot for the delicious dessert beverage near the University of South Florida.

Chewy Boba Co. opened its doors Jan. 11. It’s located at 2572 E. Fowler Ave., which is only a mile away from the university.

“We already have five stores in Orlando, Florida, and one in Las Vegas,” said Steven Page, the manager of Chewy Boba Co. “This is a great location. We get a lot of traffic from Chipotle and then the shopping center here is really good too.”

Chewy Boba is a new boba joint in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Yara Zayas.

Boba is a Taiwanese tea-based delicacy made from tapioca. Visitors can choose from an exotic menu that showcases flavors such as jasmine, mango, passion fruit and ginger honey.

“Our most popular are Thai and taro, and original milk tea and honeydew. ” said Page. “Those are the ones we have on tap. We also have other popular flavors like our blended specialties such as California Dreamin’.”

The shop also offers an assortment of macarons to complement the boba.

As customers enter the store, they are brought into a unique atmosphere filled with various pieces of art, books, board games and arcade cabinets. There are several tables and couches for people to sit and relax.

One of the favorite arcade games for customers to play is Dance Dance Revolution.

“The DDR machine, when it’s going, gets people in here all the time trying to play that,” said Page.

Customers can also participate in video game contests during certain weekends. Page described it as a great way to hang out and make some new friends.

“We have tournaments that we run for fighting games every other Friday, and then we have ‘Smash Bros.’ tournaments every other Saturday as well,” he said. “There’s no small spaces, people aren’t cramping together, everyone can walk around, it’s really great.”

Chewy Boba Co. displays a variety of artwork inside its store, which helps create a fun, modern environment.

Some of the art portrays “Star Wars” characters such as Chewbacca and Boba Fett. One of the founders of the company, Quan Vu, explained that the similarity between the name of the store and the movie was merely a coincidence.

“I’m an artist by trade, graphic designer, animator, illustrator and I do video productions,” he said. “I just came up with a few characters that kind of intertwined with the whole Boba thing and it worked out good.”

Vu originally started his business in 2002 as a trademark license under a different company. He was unsatisfied with how that company ran itself, which led him to creating his own business.

“They weren’t providing,” said Vu. “So, we decided that we would just switch over completely and start our own brand.”

Vu hopes Chewy Boba Co. will become a staple of the USF community. The store’s manager believes that it’s well on its way.

“We actually encourage USF students, they get a 10 percent discount,” said Page. “Students come in here all the time looking to study and kind of just hanging out. We got chill music all day.”

For more information about Chewy Boba Co., visit the company’s website: http://chewyboba.com/.

USF alumnus shares journey to citizenship

USF alumnus Carlos Estrada will be starting work at an advertising agency in New York City after a long journey to become a U.S. citizen. Photo by Yara Zayas

Imagine being wrapped up in a wool blanket, thrust into a hidden compartment inside of a car, seeing nothing but darkness and having no idea what is going on.

That is the scenario that USF alumnus Carlos Estrada, 25, found himself in when he and his mother traveled north across the Mexico–United States border in 1996.

It was this first trip across the border that began Estrada’s long path to obtaining his U.S. citizenship.

Estrada was only 4 years old when his mother decided to get in touch with members of the family who lived in the United States legally and asked for their assistance.

He explained that during this time frame, applying for citizenship started to get more difficult. President Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which put restrictions on immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally.

“It was a stressful environment. I remember my mom and our driver trying to make sure that we didn’t get caught,” Estrada said. “It was really scary.”

To make sure that he was calm and not scared, his mother told him the escape was a game. She told him to be as quiet as possible. At some point during the ride, Estrada fell asleep and when he woke up they were already in Texas and on their way to Tampa.

Estrada and his mother stayed with distant relatives. The relatives let Estrada, his mother and sister, who was born in the U.S. after Estrada and his mother crossed the border, stay in a spare room at their house.

“My mom worked three jobs to help us survive,” Estrada said. “One of them was cleaning toilets, so she started from the very bottom.”

Eventually, Estrada said, he and his family began to make ends meet. They got their own apartment. Estrada said that his mother began making good money by working as a hair stylist. Estrada was also finally able to attend school.

Life took a turn when Estrada graduated high school. He had to return to Mexico since he was still living in the United States without legal permission. His mother, who had become legalized through marriage, stayed behind.

“After I graduated, I was at the end of the line on what I could legally do,” Estrada said. “I had no papers and no Social Security. I was stuck and I didn’t have a choice. I needed to do things the right way.”

Estrada said that it took him about a year to get everything ready and thousands of dollars in attorney fees to be able to appeal to the legal system and apply for citizenship. Estrada also had help from his mother’s husband, who was a legal Mexican immigrant.

“My grades also helped during the appeal process,” said Estrada. “All throughout high school, I was a straight-A student. I always tried super hard and never got in trouble.”

Estrada immediately returned to Tampa once the court granted him entry to the United States as a legal citizen. He received his full citizenship in 2016.

He applied to college and began his new life as a U.S. citizen. Estrada attended Hillsborough Community College and then transferred to the University of South Florida where he majored in mass communications with a concentration in advertising.

“I admire the fact that he was able to turn his life around, even though it seemed like the world was against him,” said Jamie Norman, a friend of Estrada’s. “No matter what happened, he didn’t give up.”

To keep himself financially afloat, Estrada worked many odd jobs that ranged from acting to plumbing and even to some real estate. He interned at various businesses and participated in school programs such as the Most Promising Multicultural Student, a program that helps multicultural college seniors connect with the advertising industry. The program even allowed him to travel to California for a company visit.

“I got the opportunity to go to Google,” Estrada said. “I never thought I would get to go there. That was so cool.”

After graduating from USF in spring of 2017, Estrada got a job offer from Green Team Global, an advertising agency in New York City. He is set to move to Brooklyn and take the position at the firm within the next month.

“Hopefully everything actually works out,” Estrada said. “I’m so excited.”