Although it uses Tampa and Tampa Bay interchangeably, and includes virtually no images of St. Petersburg, the new five-video YouTube series from the Tampa Arts Alliance and the Visit Tampa Bay organizations makes the point that a rising tide lifts all boats – that what’s good for Tampa is good for St. Pete.
The series, produced by St. Pete-based documentarians Video Shampoo, features interviews with artists Ya La’Ford, Artysta LuLu, Luisa Padra, Dean Mitchell and Nick Ewing, along with Hillsborough Community College dance professor Christina Acosta.
Also appearing as a talking head: Tampa’s Arts & Cultural Affairs Manager Robin Nigh.
One of the first, just-released videos focuses on the prodigious amount of public art in the city of Tampa.
“Public art and private art, really, the only distinction is access,” says La’Ford in the episode. “That’s why public art’s very important.”
La’Ford’s public art is on view on both sides of the bay. In St. Pete, she’ll soon start on Intersections, a massive wraparound aluminum sculptural design for the St. Petersburg Museum of History’s 10,000-square-foot expansion. The work will be based on an 1891 map of Florida, depicting the roads and railroad lines that led to St. Petersburg.
She’s also creating a tribute to the city’s “Courageous 12” police officers.
Whether they’re part of murals, sculptures or lighted installations, La’Ford’s signature geometric lines and designs make her work among the most immediately recognizable in the bay area – at the Morean Center for the Arts, the Manhattan Casino, the Warehouse Arts District Association, Bayfront Health, the James Weldon Johnson Community Library, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and numerous other locations.
“Art is an essential part of building a strong community, and as important as land use, transportation, education, housing, infrastructure and public safety,” La’Ford said Friday.
“The mural ecosystem is always evolving and transforming in new and interesting ways. In many instances, murals serve as a gateway to experience what’s important to artists, communities and how that story is conveyed to the general public and beyond.”
In recent years, she has enjoyed “fostering and making strides toward increased participation of community-based mural projects. Murals amazingly bring people together who have different abilities, backgrounds, and stories, demonstrating how art can serve as a bridge builder of cultural hybridity, discourse, community exchange and interconnectivity.”
Intones the narrator at the end of another video: “One thing is certain – as the world sets its eyes on Tampa, Tampa’s artists are giving them something to look at.”