By KATHY MEGYERI
If your guy is a fan of the Old West – and really what guys aren’t — give
him a trip to the new James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art for Father’s Day. Located at 150 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg, the recently-opened, multimillion-dollar museum is one more player in the downtown’s vibrant art scene which includes the Dali Museum, St. Petersburg’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Chihuly Collection and the Morean Arts Center. Another art museum is under development.
The James Museum houses the
private collection of Tom James, 75,
chairman emeritus of the investment
firm Raymond James, and his wife
Mary. It details the story of the American
Southwest in a beautiful, artistic and honest way.
“We hope that our guests will come
and be taken to a place where much of
our culture and heritage began,” he said.
When Tom met Mary, an expert skier, she introduced him to the Western
arts scene in Colorado. Having always been fascinated by Western movies and
lore, he was hooked and over the years, the couple amassed a collection of
almost 3,000 pieces. Until the museum opened, it was housed at the Raymond
James Financial headquarters, where he served as CEO for 40 years.
In 2015, the couple purchased a vacant building on Central Avenue for $14.5 million and set out to build the destination museum that covers an entire city block. Costs have exceeded the original $75 million which was committed for completion.
Dramatically transforming over
88,000 square feet, the Jameses
dedicated some 30,000 square feet to
eight galleries which host the works of
over 200 historical and contemporary
artists, including Charles Russell,
Frederic Remington, E. Irving Couse,
John Coleman, Bonnie Marris, Jesse
Monongya, Dan Namingha and Billy
Schenck. The museum also includes a
theatre, shop, café, and special events
The building’s architecture features sandstone from India with strata reminiscent of the mesas and cliffs found out West. As visitors walk through, they are reminded of ancient cave dwellings often found in New Mexico and Arizona.
When entering, the rush of water from an 18-foot black granite waterfall
will bring peace and serenity to even the most harried of sightseers. Take a
moment to enjoy the bronze sculpture in the reflecting pool, Honeymoon at Crow
Fair, by John Coleman.
Special highlights include a 19th
century bar which came from a historic
San Francisco Hotel, the Jewel Box
gallery in the shape of a geode that
displays Mary’s superb collection of
jewelry, Andy Warhol’s 1986 Mother
and Child – one of ten of Warhol’s
Cowboy and Indian series that questions
the myths and realities of the American
West, and Harry Jackson’s early study
for a bronze monument of Sacagawea,
the Shoshone who helped guide the
Lewis and Clark Expedition. The
Marshall by Harry Jackson features
John Wayne in his Academy Award winning
role as U.S. Marshall Rooster
Cogburn in the movie, True Grit.
All in all, the collection consists
of works in oil, ink, stone, and steel,
all evoking the spirit of a wide-open
frontier and beauty of life in the wild.
James says he’s tried to express the
West’s core values of action, fortitude,
heritage and integrity.
The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art
Where: 150 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg.
Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Admission: $20; $15 for seniors and military; $10 for youth (7–18);
children 6 and under are free. Memberships are available.
Info: Call (727) 892-4200 or visit thejamesmuseum.org