We forget that widespread commercial air conditioning is relatively new — about 70 years old — and that before it became an integral part of Florida living, anyone who could evacuate to cooler climes during the summer months did. When I was a little girl in the early 1950s, for example, most of the stores in St. Petersburg actually closed for the summer.
Air conditioning opened up Florida and is the reason it's now so populated.
It's also the impetus for the Cool Art Show on Saturday and Sunday at the St. Petersburg Coliseum.
The art festival was the idea, 24 years ago, of several artists who were regulars on the outdoor art festival circuit during cooler months and thought a summer show could help bridge the lean season.
That first year, it was small; fewer than two dozen artists participated. It has grown to about 80 artists, still small by Mainsail or Gasparilla standards, but a good number for visitors who want to develop a fuller acquaintance with the art. Also making it distinctive is that it's organized by the artists themselves, members of the Professional Association of Visual Artists, rather than the typical group of community volunteers.
And, of course, it's inside and cool.
You'll find all the popular media: painting, prints, photography, ceramics, jewelry, wood and metal by artists and craftsmen throughout the Tampa Bay area. The Coliseum's concession areas will be open, and restaurants abound several blocks away in the downtown and waterfront neighborhoods.
Lennie Bennett, Times art critic