Best Of 2017

Scott Harrell

The beer started off good, and got even better, but it was the addition of live-music events like the Rock ‘N’ Roll Swap Meet, an open mic hosted by Rebekah Pulley and regular original shows that really made this big industrial space part of the neighborhood. The sound isn’t always perfect, but the energy and the potential are both there — hopefully as the weather cools more people will be drawn to this largely outdoor watering hole, and encourage its owners to keep hosting interesting and entertaining events. 2001 1st Ave. S., St. Pete. 727-201-2278. —Scott Harrell

Noelle Mason, "Ground Control" (Mexicali_Caliexico), 8 x 6 ft., hand-woven wool
Noelle Mason
Noelle Mason, "Ground Control" (Mexicali_Caliexico), 8 x 6 ft., hand-woven wool

All she does is win, win, win! In all seriousness, Mason has garnered much attention and awards for her multi-faceted conceptual practice. Since winning the 2016 Florida Prize in Contemporary Art at the Orlando Museum of Art, she has gone on to win the 2017 Southern Prize and State Fellowship, first prize at the Fantastic Fibers exhibition, and second place at the 8th All-Media Juried Biennial at the Art and Culture Center/Hollywood. —CA

Ryan Finzelber

What made Shea’s performance in Martin McDonagh’s black comedy so stunning was its microscopic precision, as if he’d prepared not just the heart and soul of his character but also every single syllable, gesture, and breath. Shea played Mick, an Irish gravedigger whose specialty is excavating seven-year-old burial sites and disposing of the contents so there’ll be room for new arrivals. Thanks to Shea, this character was a riveting amalgamation of text and subtext, dominant and recessive, contradictions, paradoxes, and ironies. Amazing! —Mark Leib

Désirée Fantal

For the 90 uninterrupted minutes of George Brant’s one-woman show, the brilliant Emilia Sargent was a feminist heroine, a war-loving fighter pilot, a lusty wife, a doting mother and a once-reluctant drone operator whose job increasingly wears down her self-possession and her sanity. Sargent handled all these complexities and more: her performance was mind-bogglingly moving, worrying, triumphant. She was especially persuasive in convincing us that her obsession with killing “bad guys” was warping her entire personality, threatening all her personal relationships. Her character may have been grounded, but this actress soared. —Mark Leib

Crawford Long

Over the years, Katrina Stevenson has specialized in extreme females, comically or tragically exaggerated and dangerous to know. She did it again this season in two Stageworks shows: Psycho Beach Party and The Great Gatsby. In Beach Party she was a stereotypical beach bunny with boys on her radar and not much in her control booth; and in Gatsby, she was Myrtle Wilson, vulgar and vain and uncontrollable by her husband and lover. Stevenson’s also one of the area’s best costumers, and a longtime regular in Jobsite productions. Even if she hadn’t been so terrific in Gatsby and Beach Party, she’d deserve recognition as one of the mainstays of our theater scene. Thus: this. —Mark Leib


Donnelly’s been around a long time, and he was one of the artists behind St. Pete’s mural-driven rise to art-topia prominence. He’s long preached the integrity of the work, so it was only somewhat surprising that he took to Facebook Live back in June to stream an obscenity-laden confrontation with local entrepreneur/talentless opportunist Brenton Bruns II over said opportunist’s unlicensed use of mural images. In the video, Bruns keeps his cool, claiming he just wants to help local artists; Donnelly goes old-school, and becomes a Digital Age folk hero in the fight for artists’ rights, perhaps not coincidentally gaining a commission for the first mural along the ‘Burg’s tony Beach Drive. —SH

Instagram (@jemeroquai)

There are a lot of asinine news stories out there, but Christopher Spata’s piece on a triple (sometimes quadruple and one time septuple) ass tag showing up around downtown St. Pete ‘rumps all. It was especially fun to watch social media reactions to Spata’s conjecture that the butt-stamp may belong to St. Pete artist Jeremy Trevino, who neither confirmed nor denied the accusation. #NeverFart Jeremy, and never tell, either. —Ray Roa

Gregory Green via the MFA

“Worktable #9 — he of righteousness” is not what anyone expected to see inside the Museum of Fine Arts St. Pete, but I think it’s exactly the kick in the ass (along with new executive director Kristen Shepherd, who didn’t have anything to do with curating the exhibit but stood behind it 100%) the MFA needed. The MFA could be a little… predictable. Gregory Green’s work blew a hypothetical hole in the side of the museum, letting a new kind of light inside. I hope Shepherd continues to let curators like Katherine Pill make bold choices that give patrons substantive things to feel uneasy about, and that those kinds of exhibits get more attention than the floral arranging ones. —Cathy Salustri

Abi Skipp via Flickr/CC

Colin O’Hara is the consummate Rowdies fan, and his coverage of the local club for CL always gets loads of attention. One night this summer, he texted me because someone from the Rowdies had told him he couldn’t tweet about drinking beer if he wanted to keep his media credentials. Our response: Tweet about drinking beer more, please, Colin. The Rowdies have the most reasonably priced beer of any local stadium, something tweet-worthy all on its own, but if they think they’re going to tell us what we can tweet/post/write/report as journalists, well, they’ve got another thing coming. Follow Colin’s exploits at the Rowdies games at @cl_arts. —Cathy Salustri


By all accounts, Rick Manners — a 57-year-old St. Pete scene staple and on-the-low songwriter — was the ultimate band dad. He helped bands load in and load out. He told anyone who’d listen about the local acts he loved, and he even volunteered his time to work on venues like the Local 662 and Blueberry Patch. He was always around and ready to encourage. And he was much appreciated, as evidenced by the outpouring of love after Manners’ December death. —Ray Roa