The Art Bug

John Jackson, proprietor of the new The Around the World Art Village & Café in West Palm Beach, has always been a man with a vision. Back in 1989, that vision involved a series of small plastic tubes he called the Insider, which would be his contribution to the war on bugs. Just drill these little doohickeys into a wall, spray insecticide through them, and kill off all the little critters roaming inside the walls of the building. Simple, deadly... but for some reason, a tough sell. He patented his idea, then spent six years getting rejected by pest-control companies. The outlook was grim. His office was a pay phone outside a pizza parlor. His last get-rich-quick scheme, a low-budget film, put him in the hole for almost $250,000 -- and he had only $35 in his bank account. Finally, after rebuffing Jackson for years, Terminix International bought exclusive rights to the Insider in 1995, and John Jackson the visionary became John Jackson the wealthy entrepreneur.

Jackson has always tried to reinvent himself, with mixed success. He gave filmmaking a whirl, shooting an offbeat flop of a mockumentary titled Louie the Crab: A Serious Comedy, a fictionalized story based on the real-life incident of a giant crab balloon that was draped over Trader Jack's Crabhouse & Pub in West Palm Beach some years ago. After he hit it big with the Insider, he also wrote the obligatory self-help book recounting his own rags-to-riches story. His book, The Insider Story: How to get Rich with a Simple Idea, contains all the psychobabble that is de rigueur in such works, with buzzwords like reality-stoppers and the Can't Syndrome.

In his latest incarnation as a patron of the arts, he has established Around the World just a block down the street from the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. The complex includes nine art studio-galleries that showcase art from Brazil, Israel, India, and Bali, as well as other locations in Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. An international antiques gallery within the "village" showcases furniture and antiques from around the world and hosts live world-music acts. Each week the antiques shop will feature a new artist; food from that artist's country of origin will be served in the complex's café. Plus, the place will intermittently host weekend parties to coincide with special events. But no matter what surprises the art village might present, one thing is for sure: The whole place will undoubtedly remain bug-free.