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For a pandemic year, 2021 was fruitful for the arts in Tampa Bay, with new destinations, plans for expansions and the return of Broadway and concerts. 2022 looks equally bright. Here are a few highlights.
The long-awaited Museum of the American Arts and Craft Movement opened in St. Petersburg in September. The stunning architecture and well-presented collection of the 137,000-square-foot, five-story museum was well worth the wait. Founded by collector Rudy Ciccarello, it is the first museum in the world dedicated to the Arts and Crafts movement. It showcases the handcrafted furniture, pottery, lighting, photography and paintings of the period from 1890 to 1930. Its gift shop is equally impressive.
Fairgrounds St. Pete, another anticipated arts attraction, opened at The Factory St. Pete in the Warehouse Arts District in September, but celebrated its new entrance and a mural by Chad Mize with a ribbon-cutting in December. Co-founded by Liz Dimmitt, the attraction was created by more than 64 artists with ties to Florida. The amount of imagination in the Florida-themed, art-meets-technology experience is a delight for kids and adults.
The Factory St. Pete, the arts destination compound also in the Warehouse Arts District, has grown over the year to include more artist studios. It’s also the new home of Daddy Kool Records and Sunshine State. Founded by Kara Behar, The Factory St. Pete has hosted events including December’s very well-attended St. Pete Winter Market that connected the Warehouse Arts District with Deuces Live along the Pinellas Trail and featured art, music and 150 vendors. Plans for more growth continue through 2022 and beyond.
In January, the Tampa Museum of Art announced plans for a renovation to expand its education programs and gallery space. Work started in June. In October, the museum announced plans for an expansion that includes a new wing for entertainment space and a refurbished outdoor to connect it to the Riverwalk. The new wing appears to reach out over the Hillsborough River, enhancing the museum’s presence. Work on the expansion is expected to begin in 2022.
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In January, The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg welcomes another powerhouse exhibition, this time featuring the works of Pablo Picasso. “Picasso and the Allure of the South,” organized in collaboration with the Musée national Picasso-Paris, will explore the Spanish artist’s creative periods during his travels and in his studios in southern Europe, in the mountain towns of northern Spain and along the Mediterranean coast of France. It opens Jan. 29 and remains on view through May 22.
Coming to Water Street Tampa Jan. 20- Feb. 20 is Tampa Fresh Foods, an entire grocery store made of felt artworks by acclaimed British artist Lucy Sparrow. Presented by the Vinik Family Foundation and Art Production Fund, the installation will be free to attend.
The Peninsularium, an arts attraction from the artist collective Crab Devil, will open in Tampa in 2022. Made from an assemblage of shipping containers, it’s an artist-created, multimedia, immersive experience that celebrates Florida history and lore. Guests will enter through the Crab Devil Bait Shop and visit the Cabinet of Curiosities. It will also be the home of Tempus Projects’ gallery.
At long last, Broadway shows returned to Tampa’s David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in October with Tootsie. New COVID-19 policies were put in place, including having patrons show proof of vaccination or a negative test. In 2022, the beloved musicals Hamilton (Nov. 15- Dec. 11) and Dear Evan Hansen (Feb. 1-6) return to the Straz. Also, Judy Lisi, the center’s CEO and president, will retire in September.
Regional theater companies Stageworks, Jobsite Theater, Freefall Theatre and American Stage returned to in-theater performances. Jobsite’s Shockheaded Peter was a popular gothic cabaret that reprised its June run in November. Freefall’s The Rose and the Beast turned theater on its ear by presenting storytelling without live actors, employing set design and technology. American Stage welcomed new producing artistic director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, the first person of color to helm the theater company.
The Florida Orchestra went back to full symphony performances at multiple venues in September, opening with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, conducted by music director Michael Francis. To come in 2022 are Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay (Jan. 28-30) and Music of Star Wars, themes composed by John Williams (Feb. 25-27). The orchestra will also partner with Opera Tampa, the Straz’s resident company, to perform live during its 2022 season performances.
Concerts and festivals returned to venues throughout Tampa Bay this year, including the Gasparilla Music Festival in October, featuring Nas, Gov’t Mule and Sylvan Esso. The festival returns Feb. 25-27, with Black Pumas, The Revivalists and Trombone Shorty. The Rolling Stones at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium in October was one of the year’s standouts.
This coming year sees Van Morrison at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall (Feb. 14-15). Tampa’s Amalie Arena will host Eagles Hotel California (Feb. 28), Justin Bieber (April 9) and Elton John (April 24). Keith Urban (June 17) and Santana with Earth, Wind and Fire (Aug. 27) hit Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. Coldplay makes a stop at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on June 14.