ARTS & THEATRE

Fairgrounds St. Pete Expands with Exhibit, Gives “The Bait Ball” Permanent Home

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Fairgrounds St. Pete is peeling back the curtain on its newest permanent exhibit. Created by Tampa native Devon Brady and dubbed “The Bait Ball,” an immersive environment drawing inspiration from schools of fish and human mosh pits opened to the public in January. The new exhibit gives viewers a whimsical underwater experience and wholly aligns with the museum’s eclectic celebration of all things Florida.

Courtesy Fairgrounds St. Pete

Courtesy Fairgrounds St. Pete

The installation will occupy a never-before-seen space of the museum and place viewers inside a larger-than-life fishtrap passageway among a fantastical undersea experience celebrating the power and beauty of one of the lynchpins of Florida’s aquatic ecosystem, the lowly mullet. Taking the form of an 8-foot tall zoetrope, an early form of animation technology, it features a repeating fish sequence that allows guests to get a fish-eye view of a bait ball—a phenomenon in which small fish swarm together forming a spherical shape—and transported to a new, underwater reality. Brady’s multimedia masterpiece blends 3D printing, light and motion, soundscapes and more to give the illusion of fish swimming alongside guests.

Fairgrounds St. Pete is no stranger to local art, boasting the work of more than 70 artists, most of them local, in its 15,000 square-foot space. “The Bait Ball,” though new to the iconic destination, has been showcased once before in Tampa Bay at Gasparilla Arts Festival in 2022. Now, the artwork has found a permanent home in one of the region’s most unique experiences.

Courtesy Fairgrounds St. Pete

Courtesy Fairgrounds St. Pete

“The introduction of ‘The Bait Ball’ to Fairgrounds St. Pete aligns with not only our uniquely Florida narrative, but our commitment to championing local artists and giving them a platform to share their work —especially installations as extraordinary as this,” said Liz Dimmitt, CEO and Co-Founder of Fairgrounds St. Pete. “Our team is beyond fortunate to have collaborated with Devon to give this work what we feel is its perfect home, and we can’t wait for our community and visitors to become as inspired by this experience as we are.”

The museum’s team takes a hands-on approach to collaborating with artists to incorporate cutting-edge, immersive technology that inspires and offers new ways to experience the arts, making it the natural place for “The Bait Ball” to land.

Courtesy Fairgrounds St. Pete

Courtesy Fairgrounds St. Pete

“This project presented me—and hopefully fellow creatives—with an opportunity to push the boundaries of STEAM by bringing in a mathematical practice,” said artist Devon Brady. “I could not be more thrilled to have ‘The Bait Ball’ take on its own exhibit in Fairgrounds St. Pete, giving the work a chance to reach its full potential and captivate guests in a whole new way.”

Courtesy Fairgrounds St. Pete

Courtesy Fairgrounds St. Pete

Since Fairgrounds St. Pete opened in 2021, the museum has experienced continuous growth, having added numerous installations including the “Electric Sky Lounge” and its latest showstopper, “Shrimpfinity by Milagros Collective,” with more on the horizon. The team plans to continue enhancing the space through immersive add-ons, seasonal activations and more while maintaining the exhibits that visitors know and love.

When Devon Brady isn’t running calls, the Florida fire captain can be found decompressing by tinkering with the latest projects in his art studio. The musician, sculptor—and yes, firefighter—finds creating art as rewarding as providing lifesaving care to those in need.

Now, Devon and the museum hope to introduce other heroes to the power of creativity as an outlet for boosting mental health, reducing stress, and inspiring joy. “The Bait Ball” is a permanent installation at Fairgrounds St. Pete, and guests do not need to purchase an additional ticket to experience the new exhibit.

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About Fairgrounds St. Pete

Fairgrounds St. Pete is an art and technology museum created in collaboration with more than 70 artists, each with their own unique style and compelling stories. Designed for all ages and interests, the destination invites everyone to explore the intersection of creativity, technology, and culture in a captivating immersive world of playful exhibits celebrating original Florida stories. Visitors can gamify their experience by searching for clues to mysterious narratives, go on immersive scavenger hunts, or simply enjoy the exciting vistas of an artist made universe. This woman and veteran-owned local startup debuted in 2021 and continues to dream big and strives to change the world through creative shared experiences. Located at 2606 Fairfield Ave S. in the heart of St. Pete’s Warehouse Arts district, the museum is a ticketed, choose-your-own-experience attraction. For more information or to purchase tickets and merchandise, please visit www.fairgrounds.art and connect with us on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok.

Through May 31, 2024, all firefighters and EMTs can receive BOGO general admission using promo code FFBOGO24 when booking online or with valid ID at the ticketing desk. General admission tickets are available for purchase here.

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About Devon Brady

Devon Brady is a Tampa native and graduate of the University of South Florida’s School of Art and Art History. Beginning his creative life as a drummer in Tampa’s 1980s punk scene, Devon is a skilled sculptor, designer, and fabricator, having built everything from houses to race cars and most things in between. In 2003, Devon became a Florida state-certified firefighter and paramedic. He is now a Company Fire Captain with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue where he has been for the last twenty years. As a founding member of Experimental Skeleton, LiveWork Studios and Crab Devil, Devon has remained engaged in creative production for most of his working life. Devon’s design work can be seen in restaurants, bars and breweries throughout the Tampa Bay area, and his permanent sculptural installations can be seen at The Music Box Village in New Orleans in addition to Fairgrounds St. Pete. Having worn the various hats of artist, musician, paramedic and firefighter, Devon is now focusing more on his own creative endeavors – producing a written chronicle of his fire service career while continuing to work on large-scale sculptural environments and functional design work. For more information on Devon Brady, please visit his website: https://www.devonbrady.com/




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