Lawton, with cooperation from his mom (Lindsey) facilitated a technique of the week art project – footprints of his perfect little feet (acrylic paint on index stock paper). His mom is my daughter. Seeing her in the role of mother to a newborn baby fills me with joy. The Republican National Committee (RNC) convention on CNN provides a backdrop for this meeting of my first grandchild --- a beautiful boy. Donald Trump is bombastic and selling platitudes about making America Great Again all this week from Cleveland. Lindsey and her husband Chris (Lawton’s Dad) practice the logistics of feeding and changing.
Uncle Greg (my brother) is a commercial real estate expert and Uber driver. He is an asset to visiting new grandparents, Lynn and Wes. Our all too brief visit to Tampa is all about the next generation. Lindsey and Chris show Lawton that he doesn’t have to cry long before action is taken. Grandmother Lynn is quick on the draw at Buy Buy Baby, the big box retailer with all the essentials for new parents.
Meanwhile, I have the luxury of this Florida get-away to indulge my passion for fine art. The Tampa Museum of Art is featuring an exhibition of iconic pop artist Peter Max (50 years of cosmic dreaming). The Museum of Fine Art in nearby St. Petersburg has a stunning permanent collection and is currently hosting an exhibition of work by video artist Shana Moulton. Her low tech green screen masking story telling is about her obsessions with health and beauty. She stars as alter ego persona Cynthia. (One of her videos shows Cynthia taking an Avon foot massage bath bowl to the Antiques Road Show in hopes that it is of comparable value to a Zuni pot she sees on television, only to learn that her item is only worth maybe $20.) The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA) is showing a retrospective of photos of surrealist photographer Jerry Uelsmann and digital concrete abstract creations by Shai Kremer. Kremer composed with layers of images and textures (2001-2014) from the World Trade Center post 9-11.
Greg treats me to an insider’s tour of the Tampa Bay area between cultural stops. A hockey fan, of course, will point out the Amelie Arena and the residential home of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Vinik. (Go Bolts! JeffreyVinik’s home in the Golfview neighborhood was converted from three houses and looks to be big enough to house the entire team.) The home of Yankee baseball star Derick Jetter in the Davis Islands neighborhood looks to have room for teammates at his place as well. The tour includes Palma Ceia and the well manicured and landscaped neighborhood in which he lives too. Intermittent conversations with Greg draw on shared experiences growing up on Edgewater Drive in Lakewood, Ohio (a west side suburb of Cleveland) and on being Morgan. Time is marked as I get updates about his adult kids (Wes and Matt) and his blended family stepchildren working through colleges in New Orleans (Loyola) and Northern Florida. Ellen (Greg’s wife) and Lynn catch up as only women can – with a shorthand conversation that covers our parents (their in-laws, now deceased), sex, politics, religion, nutrition, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Greg hooks me up with Rocky Patel EDGE cigars at the Arturo Fuente shop in Ybor City before the Columbia Restaurant welcomes us at the bar. (I am thinking about finding a place to light a cigar but the draft Estrella cerveza from Barcelona is not a bad way to kill some time as Greg enjoys a Cuban sandwich.) Greg selects a strategic location to enjoy that cigar near the Tampa Convention Center. He marvels at another picaresque formation of cumulonimbus clouds as millenials in costume mill about Metro-Con and others are busy on their mobile devices in search of Pokémon,
By the end of the week, the Republicans are solidly behind Trump as their nominee and the focus shifts to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The political rhetoric is further reminder of the quickly evaporating six day visit to Tampa and the bigger vision of a better and brighter future for our children (and our children’s children). Of course, I can’t help but reflect on Lawton, who I know will grow up with hopes and dreams of his own. He is lucky. He is loved. When you meet him you will love him too. I sure do.
Robert Lawton Dewey was born on July 5, 2016 and our Tampa visit was from July 20-26, 2016