Robert has had surgery on his left foot for fraying tendons that caused a cist that was weakening a bone. He has to be non-weight bearing for at least 3 weeks but the first week has past, and he is doing fine. He has a knee scooter and crutches, but since we live upstairs, he is confined inside for now. Good quiet, reflective time for him and, of course, the drawing pad is not far from him. He does zoom around on his scooter. For me, extra duty, but I’m finding I am out in the world more and am thriving with the engagement.
This past week I did a presentation to CAC (Central Avenue Council) about our discussions with the City of St. Petersburg about the Central Avenue Art-In-Transit Project. There was, what I would call, a “vigorous” conversation about the change in the scope of the project and the role CAC has in overseeing the development of Central Avenue. This is a conversation that is ongoing and necessary to balance the City and the interests of its constituents.
I participated in a good example of balance this past Friday (7/15/2016) when members of the Edge District and City staff walked from one end of the district to the other observing and talking about parking, green space, bicycle sharing stations, bicycle racks, and, yes, transit shelters, benches and the Trolley stops. We were out there for hours and engaged in thoughtful conversation. Everyone listened and contributed. It was a great example of city and citizen engagement that looks to have positive results.
During the CAC meeting and the working-walk through the Edge District, it stuck me how often the inclusion of Art was mentioned. This week it was especially striking since Friday was the memorial for Ron Mason. When Robert and I first moved to St. Petersburg in 2002, the art community and its arts institutions were not what they are today. Then Mainsail was the major event. Now, it still is a major event, but one among many others. Ron and his wife Pat were (and she still is) instrumental in developing the arts in St. Petersburg. Mainsail was one of their projects - as was the Art Center and First Night and participation in the various state, county and city art councils.
The other thing that Ron Mason was passionate about was collecting art. He and Pat were one of the first, if not the first, to collect contemporary art from artists who live in Pinellas. Michelle Tuegel told me that the Masons bought the first piece of art she ever sold and that it made a huge difference for her as an artist. The Masons have a stunning collection of paintings, ceramics, glass and sculpture. They have set an example on so many levels.
We are often too focused on the now and getting things done right away without pause to consider where were have been and to take a wider view of where we are going. It is important to have a vision of the whole. Thinking about the Masons and their passionate and laborious commitment to how art contributes to making a full-fledged City, make me reflect about what Central Avenue can be and what Robert and I can contribute.