Muse Awards honor local creatives, arts patrons in St. Pete

Using the ancient Greek mythology of Zeus and Mnemosyne’s nine daughters -- the goddesses who reigned over the arts and sciences -- as a source of inspiration, St. Petersburg Arts Alliance grew the Muse Awards to honor under-recognized community muses. 
“The St. Pete Arts Alliance needed to create fundraising benefit, so with the Muse Awards we shine a light on people that many don’t know about. They may be superstars in our art world, but not on a larger scale,” says John Collins, Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. 
This year's 7th Annual Muse Awards on Feb. 28 at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg celebrate Duncan McLellan with an Arts Ambassador Muse Award, Lillian Dunlap & Jaye Sheldon with a Literary Arts Muse Award for “Your Real Stories,” Hal Freedman & Willi Rudowsky with a Patron of the Arts Muse Award, Suzanne Pomerantzeff with a Performance Art Muse Award, and D. YaeL Kelley with a Visual Arts Muse Award.
“Besides artists, we also want to support the patrons of the arts. There are an awful lot of other donors that are givng and supportive. Many don’t feel like they are worthy, but they all support the arts  and are setting that example by buying art at any level,” Collins says.
What makes the Muse Awards special is that it doesn’t take the same shape as a typical, stuffy award ceremony. Instead, it’s set up as a party to enjoy artistic comraderie while enjoying food and drinks. Because the day after the Muse Awards is leap day, the theme of the party is leaping into the future of the arts, whether that will be electronic or organic. This year is especially performance-oriented to align with the MFA’s “Art of the Stage” exhibition.
“My mantra was no rubber chicken dinner, no talking heads, and no stiff tuxes. The whole idea is based off when I was a street performer in Boston. We want spontaneous stuff happening all around the musuem showcasing indoor ‘street performances',” Collins says. “The funds we make here are the lifeblood for what we provide for our programs, scholarships, arts awards, SHINE Mural Festival, and Artwalk.”
To find out more about the Muse Awards, the Muse Awardees, and to purchase tickets, click on this link.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Caitlin Albritton.

Caitlin Albritton is a freelance writer based in Tampa with a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. When she's not looking at art throughout town, she can be found making it. You can keep up with her visual art on Instagram @caitlinalbritton or on her website. Visit her recent line of inlay “wearable paintings.”