Where There is a Will, There is a Space

by Shea Slemmer
You don’t have to be keen on anything “art” to know about Art Walk. The fifteen block self-guided tour of Downtown Jacksonville held on the first Wednesday of every month has grown to include much more than a few galleries. In fact, at the end of 2009, there were not a large number of galleries in the Urban Core, but because of the tenacious attitude of Downtown Vision, Inc., there were still over forty venues that participated every month. I’d say this is primarily due to businesses seeing the benefit of displaying local art on the walls, even if it is between racks of dry cleaning and jewelry cases.
Today there are more gallery spaces, due to property owners recognizing that an un-leased retail space gets a lot more attention when hundreds of people file through because someone finally gave them an excuse to. Landlords who’ve had their space lay vacant for years have little to lose when artists use the space. That’s the idea behind Downtown Vision, Inc.’s Off the Grid program.
It’s hard for anyone to ignore the role the arts play in urban revitalization. On January 26th, 2010, Mayor Peyton held a meeting with the Northeast Florida Builders Association with the mindset that spaces for artists to work and exhibit downtown equals artists wanting to live near their respective work spaces, which equals more Downtown retail which, to me, seems like a reasonable formula for my Saturday evening bike ride involving more than the sound of crickets.
Just before that, almost in conjunction with Peyton’s thought, Downtown Vision, Inc. and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville combined forces to kick start Off the Grid, inspired by local artist, Jim Draper, pairing artists in need of a space with landlords in need of a tenant. On March 18th a launch party was held to point the last piece of the puzzle, the collector, in the right direction. Within one month of opening night, there are already seven studios participating in this Off the Grid partnership.
In addition to the studio spaces that are part of the Off the Grid program, privately funded galleries are popping up in unlikely spaces. Over on Union Street across from Winn-Dixie there is an un-assuming two-story beige brick building that is home to 323 Modernism. The Modern Art Gallery is owned and operated by local artist JD Lambert, who seems to have a knack for finding interesting work whether it is painting, sculpture or furniture. After a tour of the 5,500 sq ft. space equipped with all the amenities including a full-sized air hockey table, I am convinced that where there is a will, there is a space and, whether you are an artist looking for a place to show your work or a collector of local art, I urge you to do a little research of your own about what is brewing with our Downtown art scene. You can find more information at www.downtownjacksonville.org.
off the grid galleries
323 Modernism
323 East Union St.
[email protected]
Hours: By Appointment
Art Center Cooperative
31 W. Adams St. & 111 E. Bay St.
[email protected]
Hours: Tues.- Sat., 11 am- 3 pm
The Adrian Pickett Gallery
2 Independent Dr., Suite 112
The Jacksonville Landing
[email protected]
Hours: Tues.- Thurs., 11 am- 7 pm
Fri. & Sat., 12:30 pm- 8:30 pm
Burro Bags
228 E. Forsyth St.
[email protected]
Hours: By Appointment
The Next Gallery
203 N. Laura St.
[email protected]
Hours: Mon.- Fri., 10 am- 2 pm
Nullspace Gallery
108 E. Adams St.
[email protected]
Hours: By Appointment
Southlight Gallery
100 N. Laura St.
[email protected]
Hours: Tues.- Fri., 10 am- 2 pm, or call or email for appointment
Suite 106 Gallery
2 Independent Dr., Suite 106
The Jacksonville Landing
(386) 451-4704
[email protected]
Hours: Mon.- Fri., 12 pm- 3 pm