Alexa Favata, Associate Director, University of South Florida´s Institute for Research in Art

In show-biz tradition, second bananas are faithful sidekicks who are always working behind the scenes to ensure that the show runs smoothly while others step before the spotlights and bask in applause. In our book, the second banana is an unsung hero, and we take great pleasure in turning on the applause sign for Alexa Favata. She has toiled quietly and efficiently for more than two decades in various positions at USF´s Contemporary Art Museum while garnering little public exposure or acclaim for her splendid contributions to elevating the cultural climate of the Bay area. She´s the queen of dotting the i´s and crossing the t´s — a tried-and-true professional in every sense of the word. After earning her MFA at USF in 1982, Favata worked part time in the university gallery that would eventually grow into the Contemporary Art Museum. Under Director Margaret Miller, Favata catalogued the collection and rose to gallery manager. When CAM opened in 1989, Favata was appointed assistant director. Her duties included detail-oriented tasks such as securing visiting artists, acquiring slides, and making sure artwork arrived on time from places like Russia and South Africa. Three years ago, she received a well-deserved promotion to associate director of Miller´s consolidated empire called the Institute for Research in Art, an umbrella that shelters CAM, Graphicstudio and Public Art. Among her myriad duties are helping to select artists, curators and exhibitions; scheduling shows; and developing audiences and viable funding sources. Thanks, Alexa, for everything you do. Take a bow, girl.

USF Contemporary Art Museum, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CAM101, Tampa, 813-974-4133,