Standing in Gallery 120 at the Largo Public Library are, from left, Jerry DeMoya, representing artist Juan Carlos Santana; Sandy Marion, also representing Santana, and Scott Thompson, CEO of the Greater Largo Library Foundation. Santana’s work, featured in the gallery during October, can be found at Wandering Star Gallery, 220 W. Bay Drive. November’s featured artist is Robert Keller, photographer and Largo business owner, shown with pieces from 15-year-old Elias Muschner. December will feature art from the Largo Art Association.
LARGO – Scott Thompson’s efforts on behalf of the Greater Largo Library Foundation and the local Largo art scene are detrimental to his own wallet.
Thompson began curating Gallery 120 @ the Largo Public Library as a fundraiser for the foundation in January. Since then, he’s worked to increase the quality of art on display on the first floor of the library.
But there’s a problem, he admitted.
“I like every artist I bring in, so it’s costing me a fortune,” he said recently. “I keep saying it helps the foundation.”
His most recent purchase was a piece by Cuban native and Largo resident Juan Carlos Santana, featured in the gallery in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Thompson originally had a Sarasota artist slated for October, until he read about Santana in the Largo Leader.
“I preferred somebody local,” he said.
The gallery has been part of the library for eight years, but until the foundation took it over, was open to anyone who wanted to display their work.
“Some of the art wasn’t really very good,” Thompson said.
Now the foundation charges artists on a sliding scale and takes a 20 percent commission on any art sold from the gallery. Thompson said he’s brought in artists from St. Petersburg and Dunedin, currently the main hubs for art in Pinellas County.
“That’s why we’re trying to build this program here. Because we really need something mid-county,” he said. “We really would like to see the quality of art grow here in Largo.”
To that end, the foundation will host its seventh annual Art Hop and Taste Fest March 8. And this year, the foundation will host a new event: the Holiday Art Show and Sale, on Saturdays, Dec. 7, 14 and 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will feature local artists and crafters displaying their pottery, woodcrafted wares and paintings.
The events not only promote the local arts but the library itself, Thompson said.
“That’s our ultimate goal is to get more people in this building, because this building is a piece of art,” he said.