For almost a decade, I wrote a column about St. Petersburg social events and attended many big fundraiser galas. Richard and Helen James Minck were often there, too, as generous philanthropists, especially for the arts. The portrait shown here epitomized the couple. An artist, Dick usually sported a tuxedo shirt that he had painted for the occasion and Helen wore a dramatic piece of jewelry he designed for her. They were interesting, joyous and unfailingly kind. Parties were better for their presence.
She died in 2011 and he in 2012 but their generosity lives on, now in a silent auction Saturday at the Morean Arts Center. On sale will be 130 works of art and fine craft they collected over the years. They were wealthy and could have bought almost anything by anyone from anywhere (there are works by James Rosenquist and Sam Gilliam, for example) but the Mincks believed in supporting local artists they admired so there are many works by artists well known regionally but not nationally. They also loved to travel, and some of the art reflects the places they visited. It's a personal mix, as most of the best private collections are.
Helen and Dick's family (she was the mother of another stellar philanthropist, Tom James) will donate the proceeds to the Morean's educational funds.
Lennie Bennett, Times art critic