Paul Watkins, Memories of the Beaux Arts Experience
I was fortunate enough to discover Beaux Arts at its original location in Pinellas Park. It was July 1992. I had graduated from Eckerd College with a degree in Creative Writing, and I was looking for a place to read my poetry. I saw the Sunday morning open mic at Beaux listed in the paper and decided to give it a try. I became a regular there, and the people I met at Beaux turned me on to other open mics and coffeehouses in the area.
When I started going there in the summer of 1992, the poetry readings, musical performances and art shows were always held outside in the garden. The building was used only for storage. Inside, it was very dusty, musty and plain looking. No running water and no electricity. I suspect that there had been smoke and water damage from the fires. Tom was living in a small trailer on the property, and there was a very small shack on the property that he rented out. The only time the open mic was held inside the building was when it was raining. We'd move our chairs into the main room on the first floor.
Because of two fires, Tom had many code violations and over the years the fines just piled up. The city kept threatening to close him down and bulldoze the building, and Tom and his lawyer kept finding ways to buy him more time. Finally, in 1994, Tom agreed to sell the building and land to the City of Pinellas Park. I was there on the final Sunday Beaux was open. A few months later, the building was knocked down and carted away. The city had agreed to preserve the gardens but those ended up being destroyed, along with the valuable lion sculptures that were there. Some people think it was intentional - a way of spiting Tom for all the years of frustration he (allegedly) gave the city. There was talk that the old Beaux lot was going to be paved over for a new parking lot for the Pinellas Park Police Department, which is right on the other side of the property but, so far, that hasn't happened. The lot has long since become overgrown. Some of the things growing there are probably vestiges of the old garden but I think most of the things growing are weeds.
Tom opened the new Beaux location in St. Petersburg in 1994 or 1995 and he's still going.
Paul made his performance debut at the historic Beaux Arts Gallery and Coffeehouse in Pinellas Park.
Paul Watkins on the Air - 2007
MY RADIO SHOW!
Paul in St. Petersburg you're on the air! Starting March 27, I'll be hosting my own weekly one-hour radio show on Tampa Bay Indies a station on Tampa-based Back Stage Pass Internet Broadcasting. My show is called The Sonic Smorgasbord and the format will be freeform. I'll be playing songs by independent artists from all around the world and from right here in the Tampa Bay area regardless of genre. As a local artist, I understand how important it is to get airplay … and how difficult it can be. So if you're a local artist, send me your CD and if you have a song I like, I'll play it on my show. Each week's show will debut Tuesday night at 8:00pm EST and will repeat at various times during the following six days. Tune in on March 27 at 8:00pm EST by logging onto www.bspass.com and clicking on "Tampa Bay Indies" in the upper left of your screen. Limited commercial time is available contact me for ad rates!
. Attached is the March 2007 issue of my newsletter. In it, you'll read about:
As usual, I've made the newsletter available in two different Word formats so you can choose the one that works best for you. When you've got a minute, throw a quick email my way. I'd love to hear what's going on with you. Take care and thanks for your support!
Power Poet Paul J. Watkins has been active in the Tampa Bay area for fourteen years as an arts organization manager and booker, emcee, performer, and recording artist. Scrapbook, his debut music and poetry CD, was released in 1998 and was followed by Thoughts From Seclusion in 2000, All Things To All People in 2003 and DRIVE in 2006. He lives in St. Petersburg, where he tilts at windmills and advocates U.S. secession from California.
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