Throughout West Palm Beach’s history there have been two distinct seasons: tourist season and the hot, humid slow summer.
But city officials are hoping to change that, bringing more events to Clematis Street and the downtown area in the summer months.
“Traditionally, our whole region has had a pretty significant seasonal fluctuation,” said Downtown Development Authority director Raphael Clemente. “In the past two or three years it seems downtown is much less seasonal. I’ve heard from business owners as well who are seeing much less of a dip in the offseason. I would attribute that primarily to downtown condos that have been filled either by owners or renters. We’ve got a pretty much built-in population for most of the year.”
The cornerstone of the summer events is the Downtown Summer Gallery Series, a changing monthly art exhibit of local and national artists at 312 Clematis Street.
The exhibit is a joint effort between the DDA, WG Compass Realty and McMow Art Glass, a Lake Worth-based company owned by City Commissioner Shanon Materio.
The monthly event includes an art showcase, and a Friday evening cocktail reception where guests can meet with the artist and collectors. There will also be presentations by the artists, historians and others in the industry.
Last month’s event featured the work of Kevin Chisolm, an abstract artist who lives and works in Palm Beach.
Rick Eggert, a Stuart-based glassblower, will be the focus of this month’s event which will take place July 25 to 28.
“I’d love to get him to move his studio south to West Palm Beach,” Materio said. “His work is fresh and different and it’s very affordable. It’s beautiful and colorful and it’s hip.”
The final series, which will run from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1, will feature the art collection of Phil Materio, Shanon Materio’s husband and co-owner of McMow. The Materios daughter, Taylor Materio, has also been instrumental in the Summer Gallery Series.
Phil Materio collects Florida art, starting with old Florida and going up to the Highwaymen, a group of 26 black landscape artists who created over 200,000 works and sold them door-to-door and from the trunks of their cars from the 195os to 1980s.
He will donate one of his pieces to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County to feature in the Historic 1916 Palm Beach County Courthouse.
“It should be there for everyone to see forever,” Shanon Materio said. “It’s a fabulous collection. Chronologically you see Florida through the eyes of all these different artists.”
In addition to the Summer Art Gallery Series, businesses on Clematis Street will promote summer specials.
Several new restaurants are also expected to open this summer.
“We’ve got more businesses on the street right now, foot traffic is going up and we still have about four new businesses opening in the next couple months,” said DDA associate director Teneka James. “You can feel the energy right now.”