This weekend marks the 27th year of the now venerable Cool Art Show. This small indoor event has, over the years, become the gold standard for artist run exhibitions. But those of us who launched the Show in 1987 had little idea it would evolve into a major summer exhibition. All we aimed for was to make a little money in that beastly time of year when no one dared have an outdoor show in Florida.
So we forged ahead with equal parts naiveté and hope and a tremendous amount of work. The results of that effort will be on display at St. Petersburg Coliseum where 80 top notch artists gather to share and sell their art. Thinking on Cool Art has dislodged a gaggle of memories that now deserve to be shared.
For a number of years, Jack Breit brought his miniature golf clubs to the Show. He lay out a course on the exhibition floor and during slow times artists and patrons tried their hand at putting. Amazingly, no artwork got destroyed or ankles turned on errant golf balls.
One year my van blew a tire on the Bayside Bridge and I nearly crashed into the side. As I cursed and sweated changing the tire, Steve Littlefield came driving by. He slowed down, honked and waved and kept right on driving.
In 1990, with July fast approaching, we still had no venue for the Show. At the last moment, the Dunedin Fine Art Center agreed to put up with us for the weekend, and 30 artists jammed their displays into the two unfinished main galleries. It was probably the only time an art center hosted an outdoor art show indoors.
Artists can be quite testy at times, but even worse are their spouses. One late night I got a phone call from an artist’s irate wife. She demanded to know why her husband had been juried out of the Show. For thirty minutes I listened to her rant and tried to remain calm and reason with her. But when she hinted at the possibility that something might happen to me, I hung up.