Best Of 2019

Best 50-Year Anniversary Art Show

Hillsborough Community College

Hillsborough Community College celebrated its 50-year Anniversary, and to commemorate it, HCC the Ybor and HCC campus gallery curators teamed up for one hell of an anniversary art show. The really awesome thing about this collaboration is that the college expanded its permanent art collection in the process, ensuring that HCC students and the greater Tampa Bay area will have access to quality locally-made artwork for years to come.

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Winner: Jorge Diaz

Second Place: Harold Oehler

Runner Up: Matthew McGee

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Winner: Annie Sardouk

Second Place: Mercy Roberts

Runner Up: Alicia Thomas

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Best Alternative To Heatwave


Over the summer, WMNF program director Randy Wynne suggested that the community radio station may revive its summertime Tropical Heatwave festival for one year only in 2020. We haven’t heard anything about the revival since July, but at least we’ve got Whigfest to fill the void. Liz Cooper, Tyler Childers and Trampled By Turtles all provided plenty of power alongside a healthy bill of locals that took over a handful of Ybor City venues during the magical weekend. 

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Best Art Exhibit That Punched You In The Gut

Tom Kiefer’s “El Sueño Americano” At Artsxchange

Whether or not you agree that every human has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on our shores, it’s hard to argue that it’s OK to keep humans in cages. Tom Kiefer, who worked as a janitor at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Ajo, Arizona, began collecting images of things CBP deemed “nonessential” for immigrants to be able to keep as they detention centers. It was the childrens toys that broke me, but everyone who saw this exhibit at The ArtsXchange had a different trigger moment. 

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Winner: Dunedin Fine Art Center

Second Place: ArtPool

Runner Up: Morean Art Center

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Winner: Painting With A Twist

Second Place: Practically Pikasso

Runner Up: Nude Night

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‘Rulers’ At Coco Hunday

In response to living in an era of terrible rulers, Seminole Heights gallery Coco Hunday, invited artists to submit their own measuring devices with “mechanical, political, or poetic implications” for the exhibition called “RULERS.”

Works of art were priced for $100 or less with all proceeds being donated to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. This non-discriminatory call for artists brought in pieces from emerging and professional artists and one entry from a two-and-a-half year old. Organizers Sue Havens and Jason Lazarus filled coolers with booze and Capri Suns, ordered pizzas and let the community gather for good and snag a one-of-a-kind piece without taking a cut of the profits. Coco Hunday raised more than $1,500 during the opening reception alone in June. 

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Best ‘80s Ybor Class Reunion

The Catherine Wheel At Museum Of Fine Arts St. Petersburg’s Theo Wujcik ‘Cantos’ Exhibition

Visual artist Wujcik was the pied piper of the late ‘80s Ybor creative scene, and many great local bands cut their teeth at the area’s clubs. One of the most popular got back together for this one-off reunion show at the MFA back in April during a particularly interesting showing of Wujcik’s work; The Catherine Wheel was in fine form, and the crowd could’ve been the same one you mingled with at Impulse 30 years ago. —Scott Harrell

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Best “Yes, You Can”

[email protected]

It’s amazing how many new festivals, theater companies, and artists The [email protected] has supported over 15 years. Wordier than Thou hosted its first literary con here, Sunscreen Film Festival started here and Freefall Theatre staged its first performances here. Most recently, Tombolo Books started using the space as a pop-up bookstore. The space continues to host pretty much any and every creative event someone pitches including comedy shows, dance performances, radio theater and film screenings. Simply put, 620 is the best place to see something you can’t see anywhere else. That’s what 15 years of saying “yes” does for you. 

See all winners from Best of the Bay 2019.