On June 24 Skyway: A Contemporary Collaboration will open simultaneously at The Ringling, The Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, and the Tampa Museum of Art. The exhibition features 57 artists from Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota County. Works were chosen by a committee of curators from each participating institution as well as Diana Nawi, a guest juror from Pérez Art Museum Miami.
An open call for work went out on November 1. Submissions of every medium, genre, and size were allowed as were proposals for installations and performances. The only caveat was that all works of art must be new – nothing created before 2016 was accepted. The intent was to highlight what is happening right at this moment in the area’s burgeoning art scene. Katherine Pill, curator of contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts commented, “This is an opportunity to focus on and celebrate Tampa Bay-area artists in an unprecedented way. It’s important to us as curators to provide context for the diverse work being made in our region, and to allow visitors to see the breadth and depth of these artists’ practices.”
Late in December the committee reviewed hundreds of entries, eventually selecting X works. “It was exciting to see the wealth of submissions for this project coming from such a breadth of artists – it’s a true testament to the cultural richness of this region. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the final exhibition,” said Diana Nawi, associate curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami. Artists from each region will be highlighted at all three museums, showcasing the diversity of talent and work in the region. “This area is home to several premier arts organizations and schools, which create a nurturing environment for contemporary art practice. I have long been aware of the significant community of artists here, but was extremely impressed with the level of work submitted,” said Christopher Jones, associate curator of photography and exhibitions at The Ringling. This sentiment was echoed by Joanna Robotham, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Tampa Museum of Art, “as a newcomer to the museum and Tampa, it has been exciting to see the breadth of artistic talent in our region. We are lucky to live amongst so many talented artists. Skyway will give visitors at a great sense of the extraordinary work made in the Tampa Bay area.”
The show is not only a celebration of contemporary art in the Tampa Bay area but also an exercise in collaboration between the museums, fostering a sense of a greater network and community. It is the very first time that the three leading art museums in the area have worked in such close collaboration to simultaneously provide a single exhibition. “I hope that this exhibition will help to make the museum a place for dialogue, both within Tampa and across the region with our colleagues in St. Petersburg and Sarasota,” remarked Seth Pevnick, chief curator and Richard E Perry curator of Greek and Roman art at the Tampa Museum Art.