Stanton Storer

An avid art collector and self-described vagabond, Stanton Storer shares his insights on getting involved in and supporting the local arts scene. Carpe diem…  Photographed at his art-filled home in the Beach Park neighborhood of Tampa.

From Indiana to Spain to Puerto Rico to California – you’ve lived a lot of places.  Why Tampa?  Sunshine, beaches, water everywhere and the weather off the gulf.  I love the Latin influence, the people and the mix of cultures.   It’s such a melting pot of people from around the country and around the world.  The quality of life is excellent here.  Tampa is good people.

Do you have a mantra?  Carpe Diem.  Having worked in oncology a number of years I’ve seen that life is way too short.  Every day I try to embrace life.  I used to be consumed by work.  Now, when I’m not working, I take care of my house.  It’s therapeutic.  I’m actually happy screening the leaves out of my pool!

How did you start collecting art?  For a long time I was interested in art but I didn’t pursue collecting.  Then one day I was boarding a plane in LA for Tampa and the guy in front of me got a call from his wife saying they were divorcing.  He asked me what was my passion in life.  It was work – but not in a good way.  That’s when I decided I had to do something more than read trade journals, send emails at 3:00 in the morning and work on spreadsheets on the weekends.  I went to Art for Life, a charity art auction, and started really looking at the art instead of just buying the Carmen Miranda party head.  I bought my first serious piece that night – a painting by Theo Wujcik.  Art became my new passion in life  and I started collecting.

What influences your decision to buy?  Most of my art has one degree of separation from Tampa.  When I buy art I’m thinking about supporting the artist.  I want to support local artists.  As a collector, I’m looking for a good buy from an up-and-coming artist.  The diamond in the rough.

How do you know if you’ve made the right purchase?  If it offends my mother.

An arts lover has just moved to Tampa and is trying to figure out the scene and how to get involved.  What advice do you have?  First–eyes wide open!  If you look for it, it’s here.  Become a member at the museums.  Attend their events.  Sign up for emails from Studio-f at UT and CAM (Contemporary Art Museum) at USF.  Get on their websites and look for the tab that says “upcoming exhibitions”.  If you like what you see, contact them and ask how you can help support the exhibition.  It’s incredibly important to support local artist and venues.

Stay connected and continually educate yourself.  Read about the artists working at UT, USF, GraphicStudio and Ringling.  Join PYT (Philanthropic Young Tampa).  Support annual student auctions.  I don’t want too many people coming that I have to compete with – but it’s how I’ve gotten a lot of my art.

How would you describe yourself?  Down to earth.  Still 37.  Wearing a halo I can’t shake.  I’ve always had a positive attitude and been very outgoing, but  I’m really a very private person. That’s the irony of doing this interview.

What are your favorite things about living in Beach Park?  The quiet streets and the eclectic homes–everything from  1920s Mediterranean to contemporary style.  We’re close to everything.  If I had a dog this would be the neighborhood I’d want to walk it.

What is your favorite object in your house?  The outside shower.

What inspires you today?  The ability to enjoy and embrace life.  Spending time with friends and drinking vino.  I’m still a consultant working part-time – enough to pay the bills – but I’m not letting work consume me.

Do you have a nickname? My self-anointed nickname is Halo.  I like to think of myself as wholesome, goody-goody.  But when I tell people that they have a hard time believing me.

Why are arts important to the community?  Visual or performing – they provide enlightenment and offer a different way of looking at life and politics.  It’s thought provoking and encourages communication.

Describe your perfect evening out.  Virtually every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night I’m doing something arts-related like a gallery visit or an museum opening.  On the rare off night I enjoy Ybor City.  I’ll often start with sushi at Samurai Blue.  And I’ve always had off-the-wall fun experiences at Honey Pot.  It’s an eclectic group of people.

Where else might we find you? Sitting at Fire or Fly Bar or Miguel’s having a margarita.  Cigar City Brewing – it’s not luxurious but it’s an off the wall place with a great vibe.  Southern Brewing Company up on Nebraska – I’d describe it as definitely not chic but incredible beers.  Also in Seminole Heights, I like Ella’s.  It’s kind of romantic.  Wine Exchange is always good for outdoor space and vino with friends.  Cinebistro – I love the bar and the people who work there.

Name three things you would miss if you left Tampa.  Family, friends and my connection to the arts.

If you could have any artist living or dead paint your portrait who would it be?  Warhol only because, even though it’s just me, it would be worth a lot.  David Hockney.  If I could be photographed it would be by Herb Ritz.  But I would want it to be with Justin Timberlake’s body like his cover shot in Rolling Stone!