Best Of 2021

Nate Najar

What do you do if you’re a jazz guitarist scheduled to perform in October 2020 as part of the reopening of The Palladium Theater and your wife calls to tell you she just picked up the kids from the home of her ex-husband, who informed her that he’d tested positive for COVID-19? You cancel, right? Hunker down and hope for the best. That’s not Nate Najar’s wont. He quickly packed some clothes, grabbed his guitar and checked into the Vinoy, played the Palladium show a few days later, then continued to stay at the hotel while awaiting the results of his stepdaughters’ COVID tests, which came up positive. His wife got ill as well. After seven days at the Vinoy, Najar moved into his recording studio in Largo, sleeping on the couch, ordering Uber eats, tinkering with some tracks. He stayed five days, then returned home. In all, Najar’s exile lasted 12 days and set him back about $5,000 when considering hotel bills and lost gigs. The Palladium show sold-out, though, and Nated played his heart out. Oh, and he never got COVID. And he’s fully vaxxed.

See all the winners from Best of the Bay 2021

Best of the Bay 2021 Arts & Entertainment: Creative Loafing Tampa Bay's 2021 readers and critics pick the best in local theater, poets, museums and so much more.

Best of the Bay 2021 Arts & Entertainment

Winner: M. Catherine Wynkoop

Runners-Up: Jadyn Mills “Lend Me a Tenor,” Eugenie Bondurant

Tony Krol

As we interviewed Tampa Bay’s Black artists for our Spring Arts Preview, Tony Krol’s name kept coming up. Krol worked with several Black artists in 2020, created murals with them, provided space for them to show their work, and brought them into conversations about curation. The collaborations introduced Tampa Bay to the Black Activist Photographers and New Roots Art Collective. They brought us Tampa’s Black Lives Matter street mural, “Cultural Currency” at Peninsularium, and “Black Storm” at Cafe Hey. Krol knows that Tampa’s diversity is one of its greatest assets, and he’s making sure that diversity is well-represented in Tampa’s art galleries and streets.

Elizabeth Brincklow

Brincklow was born with an unfair advantage. You see, her mother Martha taught “arts and ideas” to generations of students at Dunedin High School. This cultural cocoon launched her to the FSU School of Theatre and the study of mime in Paris. Imaginative gigs in D.C. and NYC forged her keen skills. But the trail she’s blazed across disciplines with major artists over the past three decades since returning to Pinellas County is unmatched. She strategically developed St. Pete’s cultural scene, crafted Creative Pinellas’ grants program and shepherded Dunedin’s Public Art Master Plan and implementation of significant installations.

Winner:Naked Came the Florida Man” by Tim Dorsey

Runners-Up: Dogs of the Burg” by Urban Dog Studio, “Curveball at the Crossroads” by Michael Lortz

Winner: Mayven Missbehavin

Runners-Up: Femmes and Follies, Janinie Fatone-Butler