A Room With a View

The one-night-only, genre busting art event Showtel is back for its seventh year, transforming nearly half of West Palm Beach's Hotel Biba into a multi-sensory exhibition. 22 Artists from all across the state of Florida have been tapped to pull a 180 on 16 rooms (do the math, it equals awesome), turning them into entirely unique, three-dimensional art exhibits. So while one room might become a lush forest complete with trees and frolicking nymphs, another will be a dreamscape with plush marshmallow creatures emerging from all corners. It's a little bizarre, for sure, but that's what makes Showtel so unique. "You don't see art like this anywhere else in Palm Beach," says curator and creator, Kara Walker-Tome. "It's contemporary, cutting edge, multimedia, site specific, and a little crazy. And the fact that it's one-night-only means there's always going to be someone that missed it, so we get return guests and first timers every year."

Walker-Tome should know: she's been throwing the annual shindig since 2001, with one brief break in 2007. She says demand's grown every year - last year's show drew over 1200 people. The artists come from all walks of life, chosen by a call to artists months before the show date. Some are just starting their art careers, while others are veterans of the craft. For Walker-Tome, curating the event has been one of the most interesting art experiences she's ever had. "The amazing thing about it is I'm curating things that don't exist yet," she says. "It's always a gamble and a risk; a leap of faith, based on writing, sketches, and past work. But I've never had a room that didn't succeed on some level." Walker-Tome says she never starts out with a definite theme for the whole event; rather, it develops naturally throughout the selection process - a sort of artistic kismet. This year, the exhibition is tied together by otherworldly creatures and reoccurring themes of nature, so expect to see plants, bugs, mythical satyrs, and more.

Ready to check in yet? Just head to 320 Belvedere Rd. in West Palm Beach from 5 to 11 p.m., and experience Showtel for yourself. Admission costs $8, and includes a complimentary cocktail. Call 561-832-0094.
Sat., April 25, 5 p.m., 2009

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John Linn