The Tampa Museum of Art has been gifted a sculpture by Colombian artist Fernando Botero and $1 million by collector and philanthropist Jorge M. Pérez.
The sculpture, “Mujer Vestida” (Dressed Woman) has been in Tampa for a while. It was perched on Bayshore Boulevard at the Ritz-Carlton Residences, which was developed by Miami-based company the Related Group. Pérez is the founder, CEO and chairman of Related.
The 8-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a woman with exaggerated curves is part of Related Group’s extensive art collection. It was removed from Bayshore as part of preparations for Hurricane Ian. It is currently in Miami for routine maintenance and will be back on view at the Ritz-Carlton Residences soon, before moving to its permanent home at the Tampa Museum of Art.
The highly sought-after sculpture will enhance the museum’s sculpture collection, which includes works by Jaume Plensa and Patricia Cronin and its Latin American artist collection, which features works by Oswaldo Vigas and Diego Rivera.
The $1 million will support the museum’s art education and exhibition and studio art programming.
Since the museum launched its $100 million Centennial Renovation and Expansion campaign in 2021, many gifts have been made. In April, the museum received a $25 million donation from Tampa real estate investment firm president Dick Corbett. In May, it received a $5 million gift from the Vinik Family Foundation on behalf of Penny and Jeff Vinik for the new education center that opened that month.
In October, the museum was bequeathed a gift of 88 pieces of Haitian art and a $1 million donation in support of the collection by the Arthur R. Albrecht Revocable Trust.
Last week, the museum premiered the first of its new exhibition galleries. This week, it opened a new west lobby, the Harrod Family Museum Store and the entrance to its new first floor gallery.
In a phone interview, Pérez said the Related Group has many projects in Tampa and the city has been supportive, so he felt obligated to give back.
“We want children in particular, from public schools and from less fortunate backgrounds to be able to experience art and culture, because I think this ... enables them to grow in a more complete way,” Pérez said.
He said the Related team has a commitment to incorporating museum-quality art into all of its projects, while also supporting cultural institutions. He’s looking forward to working with the museum to “further enrich Tampa’s arts and culture ecosystem.”
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“We’re beyond delighted to receive this remarkable opportunity to further the Tampa Museum of Art’s commitment to collecting and exhibiting artwork that represents the cultural tapestry of our Tampa Bay region,” said Michael Tomor, the museum’s Penny and Jeff Vinik executive director, in a news release.
Pérez’s contributions to the museum don’t end there. The museum recently opened “Time for Change: Art and Social Unrest in the Jorge M. Pérez Collection,” part of which is on display in the new gallery space.
About five years ago, Pérez said that he began collecting art from living artists that was meaningful to him. Many of the pieces in the show have a recurring theme in which the “artist expresses the issues that we’re faced with today in society, and that’s everything from — I call them the isms — sexism, capitalism, exploitation, gender inequality, racial inequality, educational inequality,” he said.
The show was first presented as the inaugural exhibition in December 2020 at El Espacio 23, a contemporary art space founded by Pérez in Miami. It’s curated by José Roca, who Pérez said is a “major and socially conscious curator.”
“I’m just very pleased to really share this with Tampa, and I hope it becomes not only a an exhibition of beauty, but one in which people grow from the messages that all the different artists have to provide,” Pérez said. “It’s a very thoughtful exhibit. And I think it’s one that leads you to think about things that are important, in particular in these strange times that we live in.”