Go West . . . to St. Petersburg
By Kai Rambow
“I used to play cowboys and Indians as a kid. The first movie I ever saw was a Western,” recounts Tom James in an introductory movie. Tom and Mary James have enthusiastically collected a wide range of western art. For many decades, their collection was displayed at the corporate headquarters of Raymond James.
A sizeable portion of the collection is now accessible to the public at the new James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art. Much of the artwork is from contemporary (living) artists, so what you’ll see is fresh – and it is spectacular.
Several Reasons to Love
Almost everyone can find something to enjoy here. Western movie fans will see vivid, action paintings reminding them of favorite film scenes. Museum aficionados will savor the wide range of painting, sculpture and jewelry from over 200 artists. Artists and hobbyists will marvel at the materials used and intricate details produced: bronze sculptures that look painted or like stone, paintings resembling photographs and one sculpture made from leather. You’ll be exposed to these lovely illusions from the moment you walk in the front entrance. The walls look like beautiful wood paneling, but it’s actually sandstone from India.
You will experience sensory overload. Would recommend taking a docent led tour on your first visit. Tours run about 45 minutes in length and are offered on Wednesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and on Saturdays at 11, 12 and 1. This is included with your admission.
After your tour, consider taking a break at the café near the entrance, then walk through once more to take a longer look at some of the things that peaked your interest.
Don’t Miss the Bar
The Canyon (café) is a great spot to recharge. The bar was built to order in 1905 and spent many years out west before being brought here. It is grand both in scale and appearance.
The café has many recognizable menu items with interesting Southwest twists. Everyone who ate at the same time I did, commented on how much they enjoyed the food. You too can probably find something intriguing to re-energize.
Tips for a Great Trip
Directions and Parking: The James Museum is a few blocks away from the Dali. Recommend you put this address into your GPS: 200 1st Ave. South, St. Petersburg. This will get you near the parking deck behind the museum and help you avoid driving around.
Once you reach this address, your GPS will tell you the destination is at the corner on your right. Cross the intersection and you’ll find the entrance for the parking on your left.
Note: You’ll need to park on level 7 or 8 for public parking with the cheapest rates. This is closely monitored. The parking lot only accepts cash as payment, so no credit cards.
Hours and Admission: Open daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; open until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. Seniors, $15.
Note: After your first visit and docent tour, you might want to take advantage of $10 Tuesdays starting September 4. Special thanks to Emily Kapes and Victoria Doyle for their invaluable assistance.
The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art
150 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
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