Monday, January 22, 2018
Events

From geek cons to Pride to Beyonce, our top arts and entertainment stories of 2016

On Day 1 of 2016, so much of it would have felt absurd.

So much of what? All of it. Over the next week, all departments in the Times will dissect the newsy ways in which the world and Tampa Bay changed in 2016. We're looking back at all the tremendous features stories we lived through in 2016 on our Soundcheck and Feed blogs at tampabay.com/thingstodo.

The year was tinged with melancholy on arts and entertainment fronts, from the Pulse shooting in Orlando and its ripple effects into Tampa Bay to the ongoing struggle for meaningful diversity in filmmaking. We said goodbye to two wonderful friends in our own pages this year. Outdoors editor Terry Tomalin died of a heart attack in May. And art critic Lennie Bennett recently retired (though you'll still see her writing from time to time).

We also celebrate all the extraordinary things we've been lucky to witness and analyze for you this year. Here are the biggest stories that filled your weekends in 2016.

Nerdcore growing

We could barely go a month without a new geek convention in Tampa Bay. Metrocon in July. Tampa Bay Comic Con and the Grand Brony Gala in August. MegaCon Tampa Bay, the Time Lord Fest and Necronomicon in October. ShadoCon in November. Clearly anime, comic books, video games and science fiction ruled in 2016. It's no coincidence that one of the most popular Halloween costumes this year was Harley Quinn, the version we met in 2016's Suicide Squad.

#Oscarssowhite

2016 was the Academy Awards' second consecutive year with no acting nominees of color. And a report from the University of Southern California found major film and television studios have a diversity problem that runs the gamut for women, minorities and LGBT people. The academy is making efforts to offer more voting seats to non-whites and women and take away lifetime voting privileges. We'll see what any of it means this year.

Arts on the move

The Tampa Bay visual arts scene welcomed impressive exhibits, from the gargantuan heads of Jaume Plensa at the Tampa Museum of Art to the inspiring Disney mash-up at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg to the Beach Tampa that turned Amalie Arena into a giant interactive ball pit/art exhibit. The Chihuly Collection expanded into a new location, and we also saw plans developing from two incoming St. Petersburg museums, the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement and the Tom and Mary James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

Women of stage

Powerful women ruled Tampa Bay stages this year. Let's review just a part of the exhaustive list of performers who graced our neck of the woods in 2016: Beyoncé; Rihanna; Stevie Nicks; Ellie Goulding; Tegan and Sara; Bonnie Raitt; Chrissie Hynde; Miranda Lambert; the Dixie Chicks. Amy Schumer made major headlines when she stopped in Tampa in talked smack about Donald Trump, causing guests to walk out. And who can forget the single week that brought us Dolly Parton and Barbra Streisand?

Pride in stride

The shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub was jarring and horrifying. I'll never forget where I was when I heard — in a hotel in Miami for my birthday, about to go to a drag queen brunch that ended up filled with tears and resilience. That spirit carried through 2016's pride parades, including St. Pete Pride, where revelers carried candles and signs with names of fallen victims, and then turned the tone to one of jubilation and fearlessness. Let's take it with us into 2017.

     
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At end of the Gasparilla Children’s Parade, excitement builds

At end of the Gasparilla Children’s Parade, excitement builds

TAMPALife’s quite different at the tail end of the Gasparilla Children’s Parade than at the launching point.The funnel cakes and corn dogs are a bit less omnipresent. When the first cars and floats begin to journey down Bayshore Boulevard, you’re onl...
Published: 01/20/18
Gasparilla may be a raucous party to you, but it’s art to Charles Hessemer

Gasparilla may be a raucous party to you, but it’s art to Charles Hessemer

SOUTH TAMPA Charles P. Hessemer, 90 years young and about as sharp as the palette knives he paints with, finds artistic inspiration in the costumed-clad revelers of Tampa’s favorite annual event. The details in Hessemer’s oil painting s...
Published: 01/19/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 20

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 20

Tweed Ride: This popular leisurely bike ride around downtown St. Petersburg brings out ladies and gents in derby hats, vests, petticoats, lace-up boots and other fashionable vintage choices. Tea and scones served before the ride. After the ride, gath...
Published: 01/19/18
Banksy’s Haight Street Rat coming to Winter Haven gallery

Banksy’s Haight Street Rat coming to Winter Haven gallery

Fans of notorious street artist and activist Banksy won’t have to travel too far to see one of his original pieces, thanks to an exhibit opening on Jan. 27 at the Outer Space Gallery in Winter Haven. The "Haight Street Rat" will be on display, on the...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
‘Year in Provence’ author Peter Mayle dies at 78

‘Year in Provence’ author Peter Mayle dies at 78

Peter Mayle, whose international bestseller A Year in Provence sent countless tourists to the vineyards and lavender fields of Southern France, has died.In an email, Mr. Mayle’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, reported that he died Thursday in a hospital...
Published: 01/18/18

Things to Do in Pasco and Hernando counties starting Jan. 19

FestivalsFlorida Agriculture and Wildlife Expo and Rodeo: The three-day event will be from 4 to 10 p.m. Jan. 19, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Jan. 20 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 21 at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Airport, 2495 Broad St., south of Brooksville. Features ...
Published: 01/18/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 19

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 19

Steve Martin and Martin Short: The longtime actor-comedians and frequent collaborators present, An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life, featuring Martin’s bluegrass band, the Steep Canyon Rangers and Jeff Babko. 7 p.m., Mahaffey Theater...
Published: 01/18/18
Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

ST. PETERSBURG An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated t...
Published: 01/18/18
2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

On Saturday, the kids get first crack at the booty from the pirates at the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, the annual alcohol-free party on Bayshore Boulevard. To kick off the season of Jose Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has...
Published: 01/18/18
‘Piratically speaking,’ NHL thrilled to don Gasparilla garb for All-Star Game

‘Piratically speaking,’ NHL thrilled to don Gasparilla garb for All-Star Game

TAMPA — Jose Gaspar, mythical pirate, meet Lord Stanley of Preston. Hang out, get to know one another, have as much fun as possible during the wrinkle in time that makes possible what will likely be a one-time-only encounter. Next weekend, th...
Published: 01/18/18