Philanthropic Young Tampa Bay is here to save Tampa's culturally conscious

As a college student in Tampa who has lived here since I was 16, I understand that this city is  often thought of among the younger crowd as… culturally lacking, to put it nicely.  Compared  with more popular cities like New York or San Francisco, Tampa’s art and culture scene can  seem slow-paced and maybe a little boring sometimes.  I don’t have enough fingers on both  my hands to count the number of times I’ve heard someone say “I can’t wait to get the hell out  of Tampa.”  As a result, many anxiously await their exciting, culturally conscious new lives in Portland and Seattle.  If this sounds like you, you might want to stop packing your bags right now; because Philanthropic Young Tampa Bay (PYT) has arrived to save Tampa.

PYT's launch event, supported by Creative Tampa Bay, took place last Thursday night at Tampa Museum of Art.  This event, along with their upcoming events, was in support of their first project- raising $5,000 to purchase a piece of new media art from the highly respected video artist Janet Biggs and donate it to TMA’s permanent collection.  This first event featured free admission, drinks (the first one was free if you signed up for their e-mail list), some light appetizers, and a screening of Janet Bigg’s video “Fade to White.”PYT, a project of Hampton Arts Management, is a newly developed group dedicated to fostering cultural philanthropic involvement among the young professionals of Tampa Bay.

By gathering the culturally conscious young professionals in Tampa Bay who want to support the arts, history, and culture, PYT hopes to cultivate the next generation of cultural-minded community leaders.  By developing connections to Tampa’s art community through special events and providing public acknowledgment for sponsors, members, and contributors, this program will create opportunities for young professionals to become meaningful philanthropists right here in Tampa.

Based in New York, Janet Biggs has been making video art for the past 20 years and has dealt with issues ranging from gender to drugs.  Her current works have focused more on issues of power and “Fade to White” is the first in a trilogy that was created while she was in the Arctic for 17 days.  The last installment in the trilogy was debuted a week ago at the Winkleman Gallery in New York City.  When WNYC, a New York radio station, listed three things that shouldn’t be missed that week, Biggs’ video debut was one of them, along with an art show featuring works by Picasso and another featuring works by Cezanne.  In “Fade to White,” Biggs explores the popular myth of “the great white North” as an area open to exploitation.  In the video we follow a crew member traveling with Biggs as he navigates his ship through icebergs and past glacier walls.  According to Biggs’ official website, the video also reveals the myth of the solitary white male explorer.  The arctic imagery is merged with both sound and video footage of counter tenor John Kelly, whose sorrowful voice corresponds with the images of a disappearing Arctic.

Janet Biggs’ video trilogy is quickly becoming an important piece of contemporary art that Tampa could benefit greatly from.  PYT’s mission to buy this video for TMA is certainly an act of philanthropy that will help launch the museum’s identity as a highly respected art and cultural institution.

So while your dreams of a big city future are still far away, why not quit the complaining and instead help Tampa and PYT by attending one of their upcoming events?  On March 10, in partnership with Creative Tampa Bay, PYT will be hosting their second event at The Independent in Seminole Heights.  This show will feature independent curator Kurt Piazza and Tempus Projects member Ashley Niven showcasing Tampa Bay video artists.  For more information and a look at other upcoming events, in locations such as The Bricks and Fly Bar, visit PYT’s website, pytampa.org.

For more information on Janet Biggs, and to see an excerpt of “Fade to White,” please visit jbiggs.com/fadetowhite.