The heART of Downtown

I recently was invited to tour the Southlight Gallery in the historic Dyal Upchurch building, right behind JAX Chamber at the foot of the Main Street Bridge, on Bay Street. Please check out their website for visiting hours and a great slideshow. This is a fabulous asset to our Downtown and accessible Tuesday through Friday as well as most every Art Walk (note: Southlight is taking off the July Art Walk- but Art Walk itself is still ON).

The line up at Southlight is a who’s who of North Florida art. Most of whom I was familiar with but I have to say I saw some stunning work by artists that I have never heard of before my tour. Downtown is fairly well stocked with collaboratives and gallery space and Southlight definitely adds cred to our stock; a legit gallery with an excellent atmosphere.

A real eye-opener for me was the prices I saw on the work. I asked the director, Michael Dunlap, why they seemed so accessible. Michael explained to me that the Southlight Gallery does not take a commission, creating an almost wholesale price point for collectors. This feature combined with the sheer number of artists and diversity of the art makes this gallery an excellent resource for those who are shopping, actively, or just strolling the gallery scene looking for a glance at a cross section of local art. Also, check out their cool brainstorming room available to rent.

If you aren’t impressed with our local art scene, I don’t think you are getting out enough. Yesterday, after I checked out Southlight, I also had occasion to check out CoRK again. We had an informal tour of the exploding district just west of Downtown in north Riverside. If you haven’t been to CoRK yet, tune in. The inside is as colorful and perhaps more interesting than the outside (if that is possible). Some may ask, why didn’t Downtown score CoRK. It is a good question. We do have a lot of studio space and have converted a lot of spaces thanks to programs like Off the Grid. I think the success of CoRK is mostly due to excellent landlords (with a vision) in quiet place without many adjacent nieghbors. Certainly we’ve got a couple of good warehouse candidates Downtown, but not central. In fact, our Downtown is so big, some of our warehouse stock is further out from the core than CoRK.  I think it really helps to have out of the way places, especially with lots of street art and loud jams; and you can’t beat the expandable parking options. I bet ya the success of CoRK will continue and more of these type spaces will flourish thanks to the vision of the coordinators and early adopters. I’ll leave you with a few pics from CoRK.

Get out and get Arty DUVAL!

Tony

P.S.- For those of you who ventured down this far. Here is a little story about my favorite neighborhood of all time.

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