Tracy’s Words

In Interview on September 30, 2013 at 9:41 pm


It is with the utmost pleasure that I present to you the words of Tracy Midulla Reller, art professor, community leader, and the face and muscle of the wonderful Seminole Heights gallery, Tempus Projects. I’ve wanted to ask this woman a few questions for a long time. I first heard Tracy’s name over 3 years ago, when I was interviewing talented local artist, Ashley Niven, one of the first folks I ever spoke with under the name of Vessel. She called Tracy a badass. She wasn’t kidding. I haven’t stopped hearing Tracy’s name since, and neither has anyone else. With each year, Tempus has become more and more of a champion of local artists and has pushed Tampa’s event and cultural scene forward, thank goodness. Here you are, words from a badass.

What are the most important things you’ve learned about art?

I can never know enough about it. It is like a high-speed snowball, rolling out of control, growing and I can’t imagine trying to suss it all out. It’s big. It’s enormous and I can never know it all. I’m okay with that. I don’t need to know it all.

How about starting and running a space?

The most important things? That it is never done and when it starts to feel like it is getting easy, it’s time to do something else or something more. I’ve learned artists are lovely and diverse and complicated. I’ve learned that even if you don’t have an art budget, you should buy art. -and you should convince everyone you know to buy/own original art by living contemporary artists. It really makes things more interesting and satisfying; supporting someone that is contributing to the field currently. I’ve also learned, at least locally, that art-goers are starving for something new, all the time and that we really need more art spaces; independent ones, that are not affiliated with colleges, universities, frame shops, private studios, or gift boutiques. Those things are all great. They hold their own importance and are totally necessary, but we have those. We have very few art spaces that exist only to serve as project/exhibition space. I’d love the camaraderie.

best of the bay tempus

How about your self?

I don’t control everything. And that is very freeing.

Knowing what you know now, several years into the game, is there anything you would do differently with Tempus Projects?

Not really. I am tempted to say it would have been nice to start with a Board of Directors and/or funding, but I think those are all things that really grew beautifully to fit Tempus Projects perfectly. I don’t know that anyone would have been behind it from the very beginning. It was a totally goofy idea to open a project space in a garage hidden behind a business with no visibility and no budget. It took me a few years to figure out exactly how I wanted it to go ‘offically’; to find the perfect people to work with for growth. The Board of Directors is stellar. I’m so lucky to have each one of them involved. They are a perfect and delicate balance and they get things done. They are an incredible team; a powerhouse. Projects and funding is falling into place, slowly but surely. I’m really happy with how things have unfolded, naturally. No regrets. Nothing different.


showing at tempus

[Click below for the full interview]

What do you think has been its strongest trait and what could be better?

Strong traits? Maybe staying accessible to emerging artists, but having some flexibility and working with more established artists and curators as well. It’s really what I love; first-time one & two artist exhibitions, or group shows with exciting young artists mixed in with mid-career artists, or a more refined exhibition of an artist rooted in academia. What could be better than always mixing it up, but also keeping the quality in the right place? I’d love to bring more artists into Tampa for projects. We really feature a lot of local artists that I truly value, but I also would love to shake it up more; to bring in more national and international artists in the next few years. And I’m looking forward to even more growth, in our new space. And I’d love to be able to pay a staff member. Eventually. That would be grand!

What’s something you’d like to learn how to do?


What’s something you try to ingrain into your students?

Oh my god. Just, to sink into it. All the way into it, if you’re going to be an artist; be an artist everyday, all day until you collapse in the evenings, then wake up an artist. Spend your time with other artists, make friends and take names. Pay attention. Eat it all up.

What’s something you hope to be able to teach your daughter?

I think all parents should teach their children the value of integrity. I think that is most important. My daughter is naturally kind and generous and lovely. She needs to be taught very little in that regard, but integrity is something that takes a little fine-tuning in developing years, and dealing with young relationships, and new people and experiences.

What keeps you sane?

You assume I am sane. Hah!

What are you doing when you’re not teaching, coordinating, etc.?

Honestly, there is not a lot of time left when I’m not teaching, parenting, coordinating, meeting, planning, shipping, emailing, sorting, receiving, packing, patching, painting or organizing volunteers…I rest. I use to read more. Now I read just a little and I watch TV and I do enjoy a cocktail when there’s time. Of course I go to other art events, galleries or museums. I take in what I can.

What do you tell yourself when things get difficult?

Life is short and then it’s over. Don’t take this too seriously.

Finish these sentences:
I love: to see things progress.
I hate: when there are roadblocks.
I’m always looking for: new ways to get things done.
Someday: I’ll rest.

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