It has taken three months of constant hard work, but J.J. Graham and Petra Iston are finally looking forward to the grand opening of Salvo Art Project, Nov. 1.
The space at Nature Scapes was an empty shell in August. With 6,000 square feet, 25-foot ceilings and 12-by-10-foot sliding glass doors circling the building, Graham and Iston looked at the space as a blank canvas. Working on a tight budget, they had to be very creative in how they built up the space and used the airiness and lighting to their advantage.
“As artists, you always work with what you have, but this is more in line with where we would like to be,” Graham said, motioning to the finished gallery space. “It has openness, natural light — there is more of an inspirational quality of being here than in the shopping center.”
Now, the space not only has a gallery, but seven artist studios also surround the space, playing home to 11 artists in addition to Graham and Iston.
One of those artists, Paula Felici, was quick to speak about her experience with the project thus far.
“As an artist, by the time you walk through the gardens and get to the front doors of Salvo, you have left everything else behind,” she said. “Just like in a garden there’s a nurturing aspect, J.J. and Petra are nurturing their artists in helping them grow and develop.”
The act of growth is something that Graham sees as a theme with the new project and one reason behind the name change from Hollingsworth Gallery.
“The philosophy is the same as with art,” Graham said. “We never want to be stagnant, always want to grow, and what better place than a garden-type gallery. We want to keep people guessing; want people to feel like they’ve stepped onto another planet, a whole new environment, something unexpected but comfortable. … The reason we chose ‘project’ instead of ‘gallery’ is because art is bigger than what you create on canvas and clay.”
Graham hopes that since the space is so intertwined with nature that his artists will grow with the gardens that surround their studios.
“I keep encouraging people to look out their windows, because nature is the best inspiration,” he said. “A lot of people have the misconception that if it is modern, it doesn’t involve looking at things. But I believe that nature teaches so much about space.”
The grand opening, scheduled for Nov. 1, will feature works of studio artists and live music by Billy Buchanan & Free Avenue. Artists residing at Salvo Art, whose work will be featured in the November show are Marilyn Leverton, Forristall Barbara, Betty Jo Sansbury, Christine Sullivan, Krystina Spisak-Madejezyk, Weldon Ryan, Richlyn Ryan, Sheila Zinkerman, Linda Solomon, Michelle Napier-Berg, Felici, Iston and Graham.
The works in the show are representative pieces of the individual artists, and Graham said he is looking forward to, in the future, showing works that have been created in the new space.
There is a $10 cover charge for the opening, which will go toward purchasing an air conditioning for the building.
“I’ve seen the art market here increase, but frankly we are in the entertainment business, as well, and people that come here, that really enjoy the atmosphere may not ever purchase a work of art,” Graham said. “So, we won’t always have a door charge, but this place needs to operate. I feel like the door fee is minimal — it helps and will be invested into the space — we’re going to make sure it’s worth it.”
IF YOU GO
What: Grand opening of Salvo Art Project
When: 5-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1
Where: Salvo Art Project, Nature Scapes, 313 Old Brick Road, Bunnell
Info: $10 cover charge at the door. Visit salvoart.org.