Scores of art lovers and philanthropists perused a variety of aesthetic creations - Photo by Simaen Skolfield
Jeanne Shapiro, who is on the committee for the clinic, is grateful to people like Frank Crum and Bonefish Grill. “It’s truly a community event because we can’t do it without the support of the restaurants, and the artists and our venue hosts, who all donate their services.”
Courtyard of the Frank Crum building - Photo by Ian Phoenix
A Floridian theme was predominate throughout the paintings. Fitting, because all the artwork was donated by local artists—a total of 115 artists and 124 paintings to be exact, and raffled off through a “Chinese raffle.” Participants slipped their lot into an oversized martini glass next to their desired artwork, and at the end of the night one name was chosen for each piece, and the lucky winners got to take their original piece home. All proceeds from the event go to the Clearwater Free Clinic on Ft. Harrison Avenue.
The Clearwater Free Clinic provides free health care to low income and uninsured citizens who would not otherwise be able to afford it; people who do not qualify for government assistance but cannot afford pricey health insurance. The clinic does not receive any government funding for its good work and is run by volunteers and funded entirely by donations. Government funding comes with too many strings attached to it, and in order to achieve the purposes of the clinic fully, the clinic decided to go without. The fact that the clinic has been giving back to the Pinellas County community since 1977 demonstrates the ability of the private citizen to give to others through their own kindness.
Frank & Brenda Crum hosted the event - Photo by Simaen Skolfield
“At a time when people could tighten their belts and not look out for anyone else, we’re at an event where everyone is opening their arms and their wallets,” commented the featured artist of the evening, Will Dexter.
Bruce Livingston has spent nine years on the board and is also the Vice President of the clinic. He speaks with a deep love for the clinic and a gratitude for all those who have helped him help others. “It really warms your heart. The community has been very generous.” He remarked that the clinic is looking to expand its services, possibly with a dental program.
Fine artist Ernest Simmons with his work, “Wading in the Mangroves” - Photo by Simaen Skolfield
For one local artist, Ernest Simmons, this event had a very special meaning. When he was an eighteen year old starving artist, he was a patient at the clinic himself. “It was a great help to me back then so I like to give back to the clinic,” said Ernest, who donated his painting “Wading in the Mangroves” to the event.
Martinis and Matisse was held at the impressive FrankCrum building - Photo by Ian Phoenix
Teri Milligan, winner of Will Dexter’s glass blown piece “Steel Blue Octo Shell” says, “I win either way. I get to support a great cause and meet wonderful people.” Her husband, Mike, adds “Everybody wins out of this deal.” The people who won most that evening, however, were not the people who went home with an watercolor or oil on canvas, but the people at the clinic who benefit every day from the voluntary generosity of their fellow man.
- Tampa Bay Informer
The Good News Newspaper