(Pictured above) Outside of the Lee Scarfone Gallery located near the fairgrounds gate on The University of Tampa campus, c. 1977
Opened to the Public
In 1975, various temporary spaces on campus were used for art exhibitions and events. A group of art faculty members and community art patrons decided that the UT Department of Art and Design was not complete without a dedicated art exhibition space, to view major original works of art by regional, national and international artists, exhibit student and faculty works, and host guest artists’ lectures and events.
On Oct. 22, 1977, the gallery opened with a Fine Arts Faculty Exhibition and opening reception, attended by 800 people. The original gallery included 3,100 square feet of exhibition space and additional space for offices and storage.
Department of Art faculty and staff c. 1977: Top left to right: Gil Demeza, Harold Nosti, Dorothy Cowden. Bottom left to right: Lew Harris and Joe Testa-Secca
Tampa architect Lee Scarfone agreed to design a gallery space in an unoccupied building that was part of the original Florida State Fairgrounds, originally built as a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s. Scarfone designed an exceptional art gallery space and contributed 70 percent of the construction cost of the gallery. Individual donations and in-kind donations by numerous patrons completed the funding of the first phase of the renovation. Lee Scarfone Gallery was named after Lee Scarfone (1943-2005) in honor of this generous gift and passion for the arts.
Inside the Lee Scarfone Gallery, c. 1977
Friends of the Gallery
To supplement the operating budget, a community support group was formed. Twenty-five charter members of the Friends of the Gallery met for the first time in December 1979. This group continues to support the gallery with an active advisory group that assists the director in coordinating events and evaluating educational programs.
The original gallery building was completed on Oct. 31, 1986, with the addition of an additional 2,700 square feet. The addition was made possible by a grant from the Selby Foundation and matched by Mark Hartley, another Tampa architect. The gallery was renamed the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery in recognition of Hartley’s generous support.
In 2004, the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery was relocated to the R. K. Bailey Art Studios, a stunning art complex on the UT campus. This relocation, which was made possible by a gift from the Bailey Family Foundation, placed the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery in a 4,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art exhibition space in the center of the complex.
The gallery features nearly a dozen art exhibitions annually, showing work by students and local, national and international artists. It also hosts numerous art community events.
In 1977-1978, the gallery hosted a modest four exhibitions. Today, the gallery hosts around 10 student, local, national and international art exhibitions annually and numerous art community events each year. Over the past 40 years, the gallery has hosted thousands of art exhibitions, as well as music and dance performances, such as An Evening of Contemporary Arts, a collaborative performance event created by the Department of Speech, Theatre and Dance, and the Department of Art and Design.
Some notable exhibitions include: The Birth Project by Judy Chicago in August 1984, a slightly controversial exhibition sponsored by the Coalition of Florida Childbirth Educators that was unable to find a venue during its annual conference in Tampa. Miriam Schapiro in Tampa, which coincided with her STUDIO-f residency at the University. Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro both donated major pieces from their exhibitions to the UT Permanent Art Collection.
Each year, the gallery also collaborates with the Department of Art and Design to host a visiting artist in residence as part of The Meridian Scholarship program (formerly known as STUDIO-f). During the program, invited artists create one-of-a-kind works in the studios, work with UT students and exhibit their work in the gallery. Most recently, the program featured Maxwell Taylor and Monica Cook.
All gallery events are open to the public, and there is no admission charge. Through educational programming, gallery talks and receptions, the gallery has and will continue to provide special access to artists and provide possibilities to speak with them and watch them work.