Despite the signs, you can't vote for Degas

"What better way to get the message out in an easy, cheap, subtle way?" he thought. So the museum commissioned 150 Degas signs (total cost $200) for board members and friends to plant in strategic spots.

Since then, he's been hearing "I saw one" reports from all over, with the biggest concentration coming from Bayshore Boulevard. But not everyone understands the reference. Museum spokesperson Nancy Kipnis says she overheard two men outside Pach's Place pondering the name.

"They were asking, 'Who's Degas?' — like 'Las Vegas,'" she says. (For the record, the proper pronunciation is "day-GAH.")

Smith insists he is not trying to get Degas any write-in votes.

"We're not running! Let me be clear about that. Romney and Palin may say that. But we at the museum  are saying, Degas is not running. We just want him to be the number one artist in your hearts."

Spoken like a true politician.

The Degas show, which will feature the artist's bronze sculptures along with a selection of paintings and drawings, runs from March 12-June 19. Find out more at

A new name has been popping up amidst the glut of campaign signs on Tampa street corners: Degas. Elegantly simple, with black lettering against a white background, Mr. Degas' signs stand out among all the noisy orange Grecos and green Turanchiks.

Don't look for his name on the ballot on March 1, though: Edgar Degas, the painter and sculptor best known for his exquisite depictions of ballet, has been dead for almost a century. But the Tampa Museum of Art hopes that by planting his name among the other seasonal propaganda, you'll be reminded to visit the museum's big spring show, Degas: Form, Movement and the Antique, which opens Mar. 12.

TMA Executive Director Todd Smith got the idea for the promotion when he started seeing campaign signs around town about a month ago.

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