Whidden's is the last holdout
for artistic picturesqueness. The
family holds on to their traditions
and history, nothing gets thrown
away. I was pleased when asked
to write a history called “Sam
Whidden, Whidden's & Boca
Grande: A Man, a Place and an Island,”
to benefit their museum.
After painting so many pictures
there it was a way to say thanks.
Smart Studio has had its ups
and downs, too. Dana Gibson
was one of our first customers.
His grandfather was the nationally
known artist who created
the "Gibson Girls" in the late 1800s. Dana had huge
posters to frame. His parents were "beachfronters"
and he had lots of stories to tell. He finally wrote a
history of Boca Grande.
One near disaster occurred when the owner of
the gallery building was fixing the roof. That night
rain water destroyed a famous artist's prints left
with us to frame. The artist was very kind and generously
replaced the prints!
Mrs. Jane Englehart also was a huge help in keeping
us in business. She would have her secretary
call beforehand to ask us to close the gallery for
her private viewing. Her bodyguard stood politely
outside as she chose her purchases.
I was thrilled when Katherine Hepburn came in
to buy a watercolor. I wanted to tell her how much
I liked her films but she wanted none of that! She
asked if I had read her just-published autobiography?
Another time we worried about accepting a
check for a huge purchase from a simply-dressed
older man and his very young blonde wife. In the
back room my husband called the bank to inquire
if the check was valid. With a laugh the teller informed
us the gentleman owned most of the bank!
There are many stories from being in business
so many years. It has been an adventure and pleasure
to meet so many nice
people who enjoy taking a
bit of Boca Grande home
My daughter, Gail, and her
husband, Terry, presently operate
the Smart Studio. It
gives me more painting
time. It is harder to find a
painting subject now but the
paint brushes are constantly
We dig a bit deeper - the
beauty is still here.
46 GASPARILLA ISLAND November/December 2017