Thursday, January 26, 2006
This year has been very busy so far. In August Robin and I made the move from Memphis to Jacksonville, FL because Robin got a great job offer down here. We stayed in corporate housing for a month before Robin made a friend at work who happened to have a house for rent in St. Augustine, FL. We loved it on sight. It has a great backyard for Joe and is only two blocks from the beach! We really lucked out with our landlords who have become great friends too.
The next order of business was to find studio space for me and it didn't look easy. St. Augustine, and even Jacksonville, doesn't have the best art scene in the world. Most of the "galleries" are really only showrooms that hang purses and jewelry next to paintings next to pottery etc...No traditional galleries with an underlying vision that represent a group of artists with various one-person/group shows a year. Only tourist art! Lots and lots of brightly colored palm trees! I think the main problem with the scene here is that there are no grad programs in the visual arts at any of the local colleges. Communities depend on these to provide professors and students who will take it upon themselves to start co-op and underground galleries that feature more contemporary, fresher and thought provoking work.
But it turns out I was as lucky in finding a place to work as we were in finding a house. On my third cold call I reached Jennifer Dornaux who owns and runs The Studio: art and movement. Jennifer attended the Art Institute of Chicago and is well versed in contemporary art and so she has become my first and (so far) only art pal here. Jennifer's main business is a dance/Pillates studio. But in the front she has a gallery space and tries to promote contemporary work. In the back she rents out individual spaces to eight artists. It's always hard for me to get used to a new working space but after about a week of just sitting and staring at a blank surface I started to feel at ease and began to paint. The studio has the right level of activity for me---other artists coming and going, stopping in to talk etc. and there are figure drawing classes on two sundays a month.
Art scene or not, St. Augustine is beautiful but I miss winter.
Posted by Paul Behnke at 9:16 AM