Popular West Palm Beach Art Event Showtel on Hiatus During Search for New Venue

Every spring for the past eight years, Hotel Biba in West Palm Beach would lend out a couple of dozen of its rooms for Showtel, one of South Florida's best art events. Over the course of a weekend, about 2,000 people would pop in and out of rooms decorated in wild themes by local artists.

But this year, count Showtel as another casualty of the bad economy. Organizer Kara Walker-Tomé says she's putting Showtel on hiatus after Hotel Biba "radically" increased the fee it charged her for the event.

Walker-Tomé, winner of a New Times MasterMind award last year, is searching for a 

sponsor to cover the increased fees. If that doesn't happen, she'll look for a new, cheaper location. But for now, she figures she'll have to skip this year's event or put it off until later this year.

"I've self-produced this show by the skin of my teeth over the years, but I just can't do that anymore," she says. "Biba reevaluated what they could do as a partner, and it just made it impossible to continue."

Last year, about 20 artists decorated 15 rooms in themes that included giant OxyContin pills and bottles scattered across one room. Bands played in the hotel's bar, and balloons covered the Biba's pool. Rooms featured audio and video, performance art, and interactive demonstrations. The rooms were decorated with intricate works, like a room in 2009 that had tree branches seemingly sprouting from flowing white curtains, and other times showed off the whimsical side of art, like last year's Sharkman -- a guy dressed as a hammerhead, surrounded by fishing gear, puzzling over something in the corner. 

Walker-Tomé also curates the 10x10 event, where artists decorate rooms inside a Lake Worth storage facility. This fall's 10x10 will be the fifth year for the event, and Walker-Tomé says she's considering expanding it to other venues. She may add a 10x10 in Miami's Wynwood district or in Fort Lauderdale's FAT Village.

Follow The Juice on Twitter: @thejuicebpb. Follow Eric Barton on Twitter: @ericbarton.

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