It's a $10,000 artist commission for the Museum of Fine Art's Christmas tree in St. Petersburg

Yeah, you read that right. Merry Christmas!

click to enlarge It's a $10,000 commission to one local artist who will deck the halls at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine Art - By See above [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By See above [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
It's a $10,000 commission to one local artist who will deck the halls at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine Art

It's not Christmastime. It's the first damn day of summer. 

And yet, here we are, thinking about Christmas.

Ordinarily, we'd be all grumpus-y about that, because really, it's not even the friggin' Fourth of July yet, but this Christmas announcement is pretty cool — especially if you're an artist.

Did you realize the Museum of Fine Art puts up a Christmas tree every year? I mean, yeah, you probably figured they did, because most places do (well, not synagogues, but you know what we mean). And if you go there, sure, you notice it. 

But have you ever wondered why, with all the amazing local talent brimming over and splashing itself onto every available surface in St. Petersburg — and Tampa, too — the storied art museum only decorates a run-of-the-mill tree instead of doing something... well, something artistic?

If you have, you're in good company — Kristen Shepherd, the MFA's executive director, asked that same question. To her, it made no sense, not when the holidays are at the core of the museum's heritage — after all, the Stuart Society sold holiday cards as a way to raise money before the museum was even a physical entity (true story).

So she had an idea — why not get a local artist to create a holiday tree? Even better: Why not commission a different local artist to create a tree every year? Even better yet: Why not ask the artist to decorate the tree with — among other things — ornaments the MFA can sell as a fundraiser?

All good questions, because, poof, that's what's happening. 

The design the MFA chooses will get unveiled every year in November at an event open to everyone in the community (read: no admission).

Oh, and the details for artists? It's a $10,000 commission, available only to Tampa Bay artists (that means Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties — hooray local!) and you must submit a design that plays off the theme of "harmony." Want more details? The MFA's got 'em on its website

Non-artists can find out a bit more on the MFA's Facebook page, too.

Merry Christmas!

About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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