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Floridians take a cultural detour


© St. Petersburg Times, published August 17, 2000

The Democrats may claim to be the party of the working man and woman, committed to social justice and alleviating the plight of the poor, but that doesn't mean they don't enjoy the finer things.

So the Florida delegation took a field trip Wednesday morning to the Getty Museum, exploring the collection of Roman statues, medieval stained glass and Impressionist paintings housed in the spectacular mountainside Temple of Art named for the late oil gazillionaire.

"It's such a relief to get away from the convention and get some quietness and stillness," said Becky Wynkoop, a delegate from Lake Wales.

She was taking a load off outside the French galleries with their glittering chandeliers, silk-upholstered chairs and huge tapestries depicting Greek gods engaged in acts not consistent with a family values platform.

Wynkoop said she's enjoying all the politicking with her fellow Floridians and meeting some of the party's stars. She whipped a bright yellow, stuffed cartoon bird out of her convention-issue tote bag and said, "Tweety and I had our picture taken with Bob Butterworth this morning." But she's glad to see all this fancy furniture, too: "I'm an HGTV fanatic."

Gwendolyn Johnson, a delegate from Wellington, and Pat Lockett-Felder, a City Council member from Jacksonville, got their picture taken with a vast 18th century French bed.

They, too, were glad to get out of the bleak lowlands of the airport Hilton to spend a few minutes strolling the Getty's travertine marble buildings.

"I love all this gilt stuff," said Johnson. "My house is red and gold and I could use me some more gold -- maybe like this big old bed!"

"Look at all this," said Lockett-Felder, gesturing to a painting of a 17th century cardinal and a huge rococo candelabrum. "It's like nothing you ever dreamed of."

None of the Democrats saw anything wrong with taking time out from caucusing and speeches to spend a few minutes in interiors Louis XIV would have loved.

"This is very old stuff," said Lockett-Felder. "There's something over there from 1597. 1597!"

Frank Williams from Tallahassee added, "It doesn't hurt the Florida delegation to come out here and learn something."

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