When Clayton Galleries opened in South Tampa in 1987, the visual arts scene in the bay area was different from today's landscape. The most venerable institution was the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, which had opened in 1965. The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg was only 5 years old and had yet to make its reputation internationally. The Tampa Museum of Art was also a newbie at age 7. The Contemporary Art Museum at USF and the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art had yet to be born. And anyway, at the time, very few people went over the bridges in either direction and certainly not for art.
But there was vibrancy, especially at art galleries, which began popping up throughout the area in the 1980s. We still have a lot of fine galleries but most are much newer. Clayton is one of the rare survivors.
Cathy Clayton, its owner, is celebrating its 25th birthday with "Now and Then," an exhibition that features gallery artists she has represented for many years as well as new ones she has added along the way, 27 in all. She always has had a predilection for paintings but she also has been open to other media that are represented in this show. She clearly has an eye for recognizing quality.
"Now and Then" continues at Clayton Galleries, 4105 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, through May 29. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Free. claytongalleries.net or (813) 831-3753.
Lennie Bennett, Times art critic