Raymond James hosts First Friday Art Gallery

Featured local artists Tom Hart and Neil Fletcher, RJ Art Gallery displayed both of the artists’ works on the walls as patrons sipped, ate, and toured the halls.

Raymond James Inc. is a financial services holding company with branches that primarily deal with investment and financial planning.

Raymond James client and featured artist, Neil Fletcher, was a retired Florida State University nuclear physicist who started painting in 2010. He specializes in the three dimensional perspective.  Tom Hart, Ph.D., also a client, was a library science professor at Florida State University. He is 2014’s Vivian LaValle Art volunteer of the year.

Robert Brooks, RJ branch manager and vice president, said that they host a First Friday gallery showing about five or six times a year and they try to feature local artists. Many of the artists featured are their clients.

“We find that art and finance actually go together because normally artists have followers that have money and that seems to fit the mold for what we’re looking for. We do it to support local artists and to provide a venue for artists to have a gallery to put their art at no charge to them,” Brooks said.

Brooks explained that the company has an extensive history with art and the headquarters, located in St. Petersburg, Fla., has a collection of art that values between one hundred million and two hundred million dollars.

Desiree Dunn, receptionist and sales associate, coordinated the events and was glad to feature their clients art work.

“Our headquarters has an art gallery there, so we kind of mimic what they do there. We host this event every other month and we like to feature clients and local artists and invite the community to come, view and enjoy food and drinks,” Dunn said.

Lynn Hales, Florida A&M University history professor, came out to the showing with his wife in support of the local artists.

“We do it on a fairly regular basis, we enjoy seeing the local artwork and running into people we know occasionally and seeing what the artists can do. There are actually some very good artists in town,” Hales said.

The art gallery will host its next showing in April.