Mayor Lenny Curry wants to see The Jacksonville Landing redeveloped. But amidst his wrangling with the shopping center’s owner, artists at The Landing’s Art Center Cooperative want the city to see some tenants are still trying to make the location work.
Retired high school English teacher Mary Catherine Lewis was showing off her photography in The Landing’s Art Center Cooperative gallery Tuesday.
“This a lumen print,” she said. She made it in her backyard by sandwiching flowers and lace between photographic paper and glass.“And the moon or the sun creates the image.”
Lewis is one of 25 co-op member artists. Their gallery, just inside The Landing’s Water Street entrance, displays realistic paintings of women, landscapes, sculptures and what Art Center Secretary Ed Malesky makes: wood work.
He’s been part of the co-op for six years and moved into The Landing with it two years ago from the previous location on Adams Street.
“One of the things that was really clear, as soon as we moved down here, our visitation substantially jumped,” he said.
He estimates 10 times more traffic, or about 10,000 visitors a year, which means more name recognition and more sales for artists.
Malesky said some of them are well established, but many use the co-op as a transition tool.
“We’re that step in between so they can get their feet wet in a gallery situation, get their artwork exposed and begin to understand the selling and self-marketing process,” he said.
He said The Landing gets a bad rap.
“One of the things I don’t think people realize is that we have a fair number of new groups always coming in, and they’re always kind of the local, entrepreneurial kind of places,” he said. “They’re not the chains coming in here.”
He points to a new cigar shop, a locally owned coffee cafe and other artists with stores.
His vision is “rather than a retail destination, a destination where people can come and check out locally made things.”
Malesky said the studio gets most foot traffic during events like the annual Jazz Festival and downtown’s monthly Art Walk.
In addition to the gallery, the Art Center also offers artists studio space in The Landing, as well as at a separate location on Hogan Street.