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Escape the heat at annual Cool Art Show in St. Pete


Published:   |   Updated: July 20, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Come in from the July heat and enjoy an abundance of art in air-conditioned luxury. It's time for the annual Cool Art Show.

In its 25th year, the juried show features close to 80 local and statewide artists who present striking functional and decorative pieces of art in an assortment of mediums.

And it's all in the walkable air-cooled space of the St. Petersburg Coliseum.

"It's just like one of the outdoor festivals - it's run similarly, but it's inside," said Susan Rollins Gehring co-chair of the show with Connie Parkinson. "And we don't have prize money. It was set up that way originally because they didn't want the artists to feel they were competing against each other."

One of the artists returning this year is Seminole woodworker Albert Zimmerman. The octogenarian has been in the show on and off for the past 15 years. He mixes different, richly textured woods from Africa, South America and the United States to create chairs and accent tables that have personality, charm and functionality.

The chairs seem far too pretty to think about sitting on them, especially since they all sport only three legs.

"You can sit on them all," Zimmerman states with certainty. "They are actually more stable that way. If you go back to history, you'll see a milking chair on a farm is three-legged. Those farmers knew that a four-legged chair will wiggle around on an uneven floor, but a three-legged chair will find its mark whether the floor is uneven or not."

A longtime hobbyist, Zimmerman got into seriously designing his chairs and tables 15 years ago when he retired after 22 years as a Ph.D. psychologist counselor with the Veterans Administration.

"But I've always been into wood," he said. "I've built furniture everywhere in this house."

He will be showing about 10 chairs and accent tables at the Cool Show, he says. There also will be a variety of paintings, jewelry, ceramics, photography, metalworks, glass and mixed media to see; and two commemorative items for purchase.

"We have a 25-year commemorative T-shirt this year and a tote bag that we're selling for $15 each," Gehring said. "There is a different image for each, and the two artists who made the images are two of the original artists who put the show together 25 years ago, Jack Bright and Denis Gaston."

All the artists in the first show and in subsequent shows are members of PAVA, the Professional Association of Visual Artists, a Florida-based professional organization boasting 160 members.

To learn more about PAVA and the show, visit www.pavaartist.org.

COOL ART SHOW

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: The Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N., St. Petersburg

Tickets: Free admission; pava-artists.org

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