The Art Taco Person of the Year for 2016 is Carla Bristol. Gallerie 909 is her creation, now one-and-a-half years old. Located at 22nd St. and 9th Ave. South. Carla focuses on art related to the African Diaspora, which covers a lot of ground. She has exhibited local luminaries such as Charles Axt and emerging talents like Eckwood Ellison and taken work to be exhibited in Pop-ups in New York and other out of state locations.
Carla has worked in IT sales in NY and Florida, for Liz Arden, the 6-11 Gallery at Entrepeneurial Academy, and began raising a family before moving to Saint Pete and opening the gallery as a single mom. She works now during the week and runs the gallery during weekends and by appointment. She has one of the more realistic business plans I've ever heard from any gallery owner - most sound like quotes from a motivational speaker seminar by comparison. Carla is a focused, go-getter that makes things happen in any arena.
A successful gallery is a considerable, no, a stellar achievement, specially in Saint Pete. More so on the Deuces, an up-and-coming area in South Saint Pete that is struggling to become a commercially thriving district.
This is only part of why I have chosen her as the Art Taco Person of the Year.
Carla Bristol and Gallerie 909 do not exist in a vacuum, nor for themselves. Her sensitivity to context, connectivity and community, a natural sense of what is fair and right - and most of all, loyalty, devotion and commitment to community, including the entire city of Saint Petersburg, is outstanding. Forging and loving the Future takes courage, a lot of energy, and a long view.
Go to Gallerie 909 on Drum Circle Friday, and you will see children and grown men at the drum, connecting, sharing, linked by the beat. Open Mic night brings some of the area's best poets under its roof. Critiques include the work of children. There are political discussions, Sickle cell group meetings, and more .
This is Art in Action, not insulated, not academic, but grass-roots and in real life. Integrated seamlessly, extruding the same goals as the art. Unity, Identity, Community, Fairness, in short, the things that make us human.
In admiration and recognition for this, Carla Bristol is Art Taco's Person of the Year for 2016.
--- Luis Gottardi.