Best Of 2005

BEST PUBLIC ART PROJECT: Tampa Photographer Laureate

It’s not just exploding chickens and mini bronze mayors. The best public art is contemporary work made for the public and about the public realm. Robin Nigh, the City of Tampa’s public art administrator, is an unsung hero of Tampa art and culture. She continues to innovate with new public art projects — the Tampa Photographer Laureate project, now in its third year, is a far-sighted idea with distinguished roots in the past (notably the great WPA project with Dorothea Lange and other great photographers of the Depression era). Other public art programs around the country are already using Nigh’s project as a model for their own communities. Each year a call to artists is posted and a jury selects one photographer to document that year in and about Tampa. In 2003, Beth Reynolds photographed the diversity of the people and their everyday life. In 2004 Suzanne Camp Crosby photographed and manipulated Tampa scenes with her directorial/surrealist style (all of her photographs were on view at the Tampa Museum of Art recently). 2005 will bring us Tampa as seen through the pinhole camera and mixed media of Rebecca Sexton Larson. Through this project the city is building a collection of great photography that is also a historic archive. -Mary Mulhern