Best Of 2020

Best Acid Trip Comedown: The Venus 'Ancestor Stimulator'

Best Acid Trip Comedown

The Venus 'Ancestor Stimulator'

The Venus’ 19-track debut album was written in 2016 with a lot of psychedelics on hand; that time forced frontman Alexander Charos to face pain that’d been buried deep within him. A new album, Ancestor Simulator, captures the inevitable comedown of that chemical whirlwind, but it’s also a poignant and artfully composed and produced reflection on what it’s like to face America’s demons head on and fight for a more just and equitable world. “I’m more hopeful now for our country than I’ve been in a long time. I hope that we can keep this momentum going and actually change policy and vote out the final old guard of racists and bigots,” Charos told CL.”Don’t stop protesting and don’t stop singing.” thevenus.bandcamp.com —Ray Roa

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Winner: Joel D. Wynkoop imdb.com

Second Place: Jorge Diaz voyagela.com/interview

Runner Up: Cranstan Cumberbatch theweeklychallenger.com

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Winner: Bailee McQueen backstage.com/u/baileemcqueen

Second Place: Emily Pedone imdb.com

Runner Up: Katie Michaels theatretampabay.com

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St. Pete Postcard Project

When coronavirus sent many of us into self-quarantine this spring, local art teacher Sara Norine came up with a creative way to keep her students making art. Norine sent them blank postcards in the mail, asked them to decorate the front, write a message on the back, and send the cards back to her. While supplies lasted, Norine sent blank postcards to any community member who expressed interest in participating in the project. As the completed postcards rolled in throughout May and June, Norine took photos which she shared on Instagram and Facebook. In mid-July, both the Morean Arts Center and ARTicles Art Gallery hung the cards in their street-facing windows for the passerby to enjoy. The 4-by-6 inch works of art, with their well-wishes and words of encouragement, reminded us that we’re all in this together. @stpetepostcardproject on Instagram —Jennifer Ring

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Winner: Dunedin Fine Art Center dfac.org

Second Place: MIZE Gallery chadmize.com

Runner Up: Morean Arts Center moreanartscenter.org

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Winner: Trashy Treasures dfac.org/event 

Second Place: Painted Leaf Art Studio paintedleafstudio.com

Runner Up: Practically Pikasso practicallypikasso.com

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'Washed Ashore' At Florida Aquarium

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the Florida Aquarium (long story short: I don’t have a babysitter until about 10:30 a.m., and the place is relatively empty when it opens at 9:30 a.m.). Thanks to the air-conditioning and sea critters, the venue is perfect for my nine-month-old and me. But one aspect of each visit—the art made from plastic that’s been collected from the shores of beaches—is both beautiful in its aesthetics and absolutely soul-crushing in its message (long story short: we’re pretty much selfish fucks who can’t be bothered to utilize reusables or even secure our trash). The sculptures in “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea” include a parrot fish, white shark, whale skeletons and more, but they’re all made of lighters, toilet brushes, flip-flops, bleach bottles and other garbage. Go punish yourself by going to see it (viewing has been extended through October), and then walk out committed to trying to make sure an exhibit just like it can’t ever be made again. flaquarium.org —Ray Roa

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Tampa Museum Of Art

While many white people were complaining about destruction of property and destruction of history during BLM protests, protests in Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park were more interested in creating things than destroying them. The Tampa Museum of Art set up a protest sign-making station in support of peaceful protests for Black Lives Matter, and people were loving it. You should see the photos. tampamuseum.org —Jennifer Ring

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Winner: The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger amazon.com

Second Place: Creepy Florida by Mark Muncy amazon.com

Runner Up: St. Pete Eats: A Cookbook by Dr. Kanika Tomalin stpeteeats.org

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Winner: Mayven Missbehavin @MayvenIsMissbehavin on Facebook.

Second Place: Femmes & Follies femmesandfollies.com

Runner Up: Cherry Von Topp @CherryVonTopp on Facebook.

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