Tampa Bay art fans know the Cool Art Show, the summertime artistic oasis that happens in the air-conditioned Coliseum in St. Petersburg.
The Professional Association of Visual Artists produces that show, as well as another one at the Gulfport Casino and an annual members show. But because of COVID-19, the 30-year-old nonprofit artist member organization hasn’t been able to hold the exhibitions.
The organization was also losing other opportunities to showcase their artists' work and had moved everyone’s work online to an improved website.
But when a space became available in a Dunedin shopping center, Professional Association of Visual Artists leaders decided it was finally time to have their own permanent space.
“This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” said Linda Stump, president of the organization. “It’s a good opportunity for us. We’ve never had a permanent home before.”
Cool Art, a gallery-retail shop, opened on Sept. 16 and showcases the work of 43 artists, including paintings, photography, ceramics, mixed media and jewelry.
The artists are also staffing the gallery on a volunteer basis. One staffer will work at a time to keep social distancing in mind.
They are limiting the number of people in the gallery to six at a time. Stump said they aren’t taking appointments because they want to cater to walk-in traffic.
She said that the artists who have had no place or opportunity to show their work consider the gallery a “godsend.” Stump said they were “packed to the gills” with artwork, so much so that she said she had to turn away six artists because the walls of the 800-square-foot gallery were full. They will rotate artists every three months to give them all exposure.
In addition to having mask requirements for staff and customers, the work intake procedure also got a social distancing update. Artists made appointments to drop off work, which happens curbside.
“It went so smoothly,” Stump said. “We are psyched.”
If you go
Cool Art by the Professional Association of Visual Artists opens at 11 a.m. Sept. 16 in Independence Square Plaza at 1240 County Road 1, Dunedin. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays to Saturday. pava-artists.org.