Read Stephanie Hayes on St. Pete arts 'yes man' Bob Devin Jones and 10 years of [email protected]
ST. PETERSBURG — Bob Devin Jones sat in a row of empty chairs at the [email protected], exposed rafters looming over him like a cirrus cloud. He considered the props left from a performance art piece the night before: a beta fish floating in a bowl, a woman's hat, a book.
It was past noon, and in a matter of hours, the studio had to transform for a roundtable discussion about women in the arts. And Jones still had to get home and make enough salmon to feed the 30 guests.
He sprang up and produced a sheet of paper.
"Here's a little diagram," he told a volunteer. "The table's here and we're going to put these lanterns above it. These chairs can stay. The tablecloths are in here."
It was a familiar day at the [email protected], where almost no project is turned down. If people don't have money at the door, they are never turned away. Guests typically leave full of food and wine.
Yes, Jones is a yes man. The term has negative connotations as someone who tries too hard to please, but for Jones, it's not about pleasing. It's about opportunity. It's about an entry point.
A decade later, it's about seeing what happens when someone gives you a chance. Keep reading.