by Ann Oppenhimer
St. Petersburg, Florida, was lovely in late October, where the Folk Art Society of America held its 22nd Annual Conference October 29-November 2, 2009. The Florida committee planned and perfectly executed an exciting weekend. Chairmen Tom and Donna Brumfield of Largo, Fla., worked hard to make everything go smoothly at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), our host museum this year. Tom was always ready with a considered word of advice and encouragement during the more than 12 months of planning required to put on the conference.
The MFA mounted an exceptional exhibition of folk art from the museum’s own collection, which has grown by leaps and bounds since its 2007 exhibition Compelling Visions: Florida Collects Folk Art. Several of FASA’s events were held in the museum’s wonderful new facilities, and we are grateful for the assistance of Director John Schloder and Curator Jennifer Hardin, who helped make these things happen. Many thanks to the symposium participants, Jennifer Hardin, Susan Mitchell Crawley and Gary Monroe, who presented various aspects of Florida and Southern folk art.
This year co-chairman Randall Lott, of Tampa, initiated an Online Auction attracting bidders and donors from across the country and several from overseas. He and his wife Nancy McCall organized the live and silent auctions Friday night at the elegant headquarters hotel, the Renaissance Vinoy. In addition, Randall took on a myriad of other tasks this year, but he kept saying, “I’m having fun!” – even when working late and long!
Ted and Jean Weiller arranged the trip to Sarasota, planning visits to the Ringling Museum of Art and Marie Selby Gardens, as well as inviting the group to their home. Chuck and Judy Goodstein were in charge of the registration desk, and Lynne Browne monitored the buses while Jim Browne helped set up the auction and the financial reckoning. Tony Rajer was our peripatetic auctioneer, and Rosemary Seltzer managed the Richmond office and registrations. William Oppenhimer participated in every aspect of the conference, and we couldn’t have done it without him!
We give heartfelt thanks to the hosts and hostesses who graciously opened their homes, studios and galleries to our group: Tom and Donna Brumfield, Dr. Robert and Chitranee Drapkin, Ted and Jean Weiller, Randall Lott and Nancy McCall, artist George Lowe, artist Ruby Williams, and Cathy Clayton who sponsored a cocktail reception at the Clayton Galleries in Tampa. The house tours as always were a highlight of the conference, and these homes and collections proved exceptional. The group enjoyed a knock-down, drag-out shopping spree at Ruby Williams’ fruit and vegetable stand, where the artist had recently created an array of works for the eager buyers.
Several organizations donated items to be given to each participant. Everett Adelman of the Four Sisters Gallery of North Carolina Wesleyan College donated their new catalogue, Folk Art of the Coastal Plain. The State Library and Archives of Florida gave a CD of bluegrass music to each attendee, Look A-Yonder Comin.’ The packets were full this year, and in fact, the packet was a specially designed tote bag thanks to Randall Lott’s committee – Karen St. John, Jocelyn Rhode and Michele Daff – also responsible for the name tags, signs and other graphics.
The Folk Art Society received a generous grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts toward the conference, and this recognition was much appreciated.
The conference was fabulous, the weather cooperated, and everyone had a wonderful time!
Ann F. Oppenhimer, President
Folk Art Society of America
Board of Directors and National Advisory Board. Front Row: Randall Lott, Ann Oppenhimer, Susan Crawley, Carol Millsom, William Oppenhimer. Back Row: Lynne Browne, Beth Arient, Jim Arient, Tom Brumfield, Donna Brumfield, David Whaley, Ted Weiller, Jeffrey Hayes, Jean Weiller, Tony Gengarelly, Tony Rajer.