Beaux Arts Place in History
Changing trends in 20th Century design are reflected in the signs that adorned Beaux Arts.
Since setting out to determine what makes an art institution memorable, I have grappld with definitions. I finally reached the conclusion that longevity helps plant the seed, but mere existence over time does not guarantee fame. or even foud memories. Perhaps having a strong leader is key, but one of the things I found at Beaux Arts, lacking in most other organizations, was Tom's willingness to adapt, and flow with the changes that came his way. He eagerly embraced the all the latest trends and attitudes. Beaux Arts was more of a constantly growing museum than a gallery, since Tom never threw anything away.
Where else could you go and find such an eclectic collection of art. Walking in the door you were greeted by a cacophony of style, form and color. Tom kept everything and anything anyone ever gave him, scattering the gifts around, constantly moving and rearranging them. He treasured his American lndian headdress replica as much as his American flag. He left original framed photographs of his famous friend and colleague, Barton Mumaw, taken by a famous New York photographer when he was in his prime, scattered on chairs in the hallway. A crazy juxtaposition of paintings hung on every wall, from Jim Morrison to Sydney Stern. I took photographs of the paintings when I was at Beaux Arts in 2003. Some of them are posted on the arts pages.
When Tom opened his Modern Art Museum and Gallery in the 1950's, he kept all the art from Uncle Howard's Royal Palms Hotel, which opened in 1911, making his collection one of the most complete representations of the 20th century. He didn't just collect lifeless artifacts. Tom cultivated relationships with all living creatures, especially his cats. When it came time to leave the old Royal Palm local, he was most distressed over the demolition of the garden and the loss of his beloved plants. Friends helped him move as many as they could find room for in his new home.