St. Augustine Visitor's Guide - 2010
This is a scan of my article in the visitor's guide distributed by the St. Johns County Visitor and Conventions Bureau in 2010. The text of the article is copied below in case the scan isn't easy to read.
Text from the scanned article above:
When I bought a new home, I thought a little art-finding vacation would be the perfect house-warming gift to myself. I had always heard St. Augustine was an art Mecca, so there I went. It’s such a quaint little town; I figured I could see it all in three days.
I stayed at the Inn on Charlotte because it's themed after artsy characters like Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. My hostess, Lynn Fairfield, said I was just in time for First Friday Art Walk. Thanks to the Art Galleries of St. Augustine (AGOSA), on the first Friday of every month, the downtown galleries welcome the public with drinks and hors d'ouvres until 9:00 p.m. Great! Maybe I could see it all in one night.
The San Sebastian Winery invites Art Walkers to congregate on their rooftop. Up there, I got in the spirit with a couple who debated whether Jackson Pollock's should be called art, and whether Norman Rockwell's should be considered cartoons.
The Butterfield Garage Gallery was also hopping, with a live band. The art in the all the galleries was so diverse in style and price, I was flooded with new ideas for my home. I bought an octopus-occupied serving dish for $95, and a sculpted baby sea turtle for $20. Then I hopped the free First Friday train.
"Welcome aboard," said the driver. He played pretty music while we drove to the plaza. The palatial Flagler hotels looked like lighted, enchanted castles. The adjacent galleries have an equally elegant flair. Some show local celebrities like Peter O’Neill and Harrison Tripp. Others show internationally-recognized artists that attract high-end collectors.
The oldest street in America, Aviles Street, is home to the city's oldest art venues. The St. Augustine Historical Society showcased Jean Troemel's Native American paintings. Troemel founded the Art Walk in the 1980s. The PASTA gallery (Professional Artists of St. Augustine) is a cooperative of 24 artists. There, I bought a watercolor that looks like Flagler College through a wide-angle lens.
Across the street, the St. Augustine Art Association’s monthly competitions cause a constant flow of new art. The current competition for watercolors was on display. It's amazing that a watercolor can look almost like a photograph. I'll have to return for the competition for the School for the Deaf and Blind. The theme is art you can feel with your fingers.
I was only halfway through my gallery map when the gala was over. I enjoyed the Winery again, then returned to the inn. Homemade cookies and drinks waited in the parlor.
Soon, Saturday morning streamed through a stained-glass window over my bed. Breakfast included a goblet of fresh fruit with strawberry yogurt, quiche stuffed with sausage and Granny-Smith apples, and rosemary potatoes.
After breakfast, I took a carriage ride. The driver explained how Henry Flagler hired Louis Tiffany to decorate the Ponce Hotel. Tiffany wrapped the round dining hall in his own stained glass windows; it remains the largest collection of his work in the world. I toured it to see for myself.
Flagler also added seven art studios to the hotel. They were occupied by big names like Martin Heade, Frank Shapleigh, Felix de Crano, W. Staples Drown, George Seavey, and Robert German. Now, college students learn art in those studios.
Across the street, Flagler's Alcazar Hotel is now home to the Lightner Museum. O.C. Lightner, the founder of Hobbies Magazine, bought up fine art and furnishings from Chicago's nouveau poor after the 1929 stock market crash. It is a phenomenal world-class collection.
On a late afternoon drive up the coast, I found the Ponte Vedra Beach Culture Center right off A1A. The Center provides artistic pastimes for the community as well as the resort crowd. I popped in to browse their exhibits. Seeing a class in progress gave me a mind to create my own home décor.
Back at the Inn, Lynn gave me a brochure for Holborn Gallery's Artist Studio Tours. Amazingly, I was able to book a tour for the next morning.
Hugh Holborn joined me for Sunday breakfast, then took me to the studio home of Floridian Gail Prevatt and Italian Enzo Torcoletti. Gail showed me her pottery barn and all the works in progress. Enzo showed me his sculpting barn and let me try different chisels on different species of stone. Then we had coffee under their fruit trees.
Throughout the day, we visited four more artists, all with great artwork and open arms. Time slipped away with so much more to see. In the end, my weekend warrior mission is now a slow-paced hobby.