Friday, February 20, 2009

Mr. Gaston Goes To College

The recent closing of the Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo cast a question mark on the fate of 425 works in the permanent collection. The prevailing thought saw the break-up and dispersal of the entire collection to scattered museums.

On February 18, St. Petersburg College president Carl Kuttler rode to the rescue by announcing the College will acquire all 425 works. This small gem of contemporary Florida art will now remain in Pinellas County and be available to a whole new audience.

My history with the College stretches back to 1964, when I took my first art course at then St. Petersburg Junior College. Introduction to Art 101 seemed like a cake walk to us swell-head artists, but the unexpected final exam proved to be a deflating experience. The instructor placed a fresh egg on the display table, and instructed us to make a contour drawing, using no lines. After that impossible assignment, I considered changing my major.

Thirty-four years later, the Gulf Coast Museum of Art purchased the above painting, A Close Shave for their permanent collection. It is fitting that St. Petersburg College now owns this piece of my work. In retrospect, passing that long ago art course turned out to be a close shave indeed.

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