Best Of 2023

Arts & Entertainment

Arts & Entertainment
Winner: Jeffery Walker III
Finalists: Sam Sobel, Matthew McGee
Winner: Lara Greene
Finalists: Kelli Vonshay Henderson, Summer Bohnenkamp
In the two decades since American Stage began presenting springtime shows at Demens Landing Park, musicals have been the genre of choice, mostly on the lighter side like “Mamma Mia!” and “Footloose.” This year the company took a chance with “Ragtime,” a sweeping musical panorama of early 20th century history that comments powerfully on issues of race and class, requiring the largest Park cast yet. And go figure: Thanks to strong acting and expert direction by Erica Sutherlin, it was a big hit—and refreshing proof that outdoors doesn’t always have to mean lightweight.
Winner: Dunedin Fine Art Center
Finalists: Florida Craft Art, Fairgrounds St. Pete
The Dalí’s new 360-degree, immersive attraction is a new way for the museum to tell the story of the famed surrealist, and while the 40-minute, 39-foot-tall experience is a feast for the eyes, it’s also a special treat for the ears of tea chasers. While certainly not intentional, the dome’s design lets you hear even the faintest whispers of those standing next to you during the show. Dalí’s life, influences and secrets come to life at 360, but you might want to keep your secrets to yourself while being blown away by this show.
Not that she ever went away. The intrepid Jen Ring was posting updates from her hospital bed last year just days after a double lung transplant, an operation that ushered in a new chapter for a young journalist whose constant companion had been her trusty oxygen tank. Not long after her 77-day hospital stay she was out and about again, covering the arts for Creative Loafing Tampa Bay with stories like her recent survey of Tampa Bay murals. You can also find her wry, perceptive voice in Creative Pinellas’ Arts Coast Magazine and in her own JenRingWrites blog.
Not so long ago the Times had writers with individual beats in theater, museums and galleries, and classical music. Now one reporter, Maggie Duffy, covers all that, plus she writes about restaurants. We could sigh for the good ol’ days (where there were writers on the movie and media beats as well), but we can also thank Maggie, who deservedly won the St. Pete Arts Alliance’s MUSE award earlier this year for doing such a good job covering the region’s arts scene.
How does he do it? Senior writer and editor at the must-read online newsletter St. Pete Catalyst, veteran journalist Bill DeYoung has carved out a niche as the most prolific and reliable source of arts news in Tampa Bay. He writes about what’s happening and who’s who on a near-daily basis, interviewing, forecasting, reporting, podcasting—and has proven to be invaluable to an arts scene that needs and deserves the attention he provides.
Winner: Trashy Treasures at Dunedin Fine Art Center
Finalists: Gasparilla Festival of the Arts Preview Party, Wearable Art at Dunedin Fine Art Center