Homes for Artists

By staff July 1, 2008

Artists have been drawn to Sarasota for decades, but these days, where do they live? In the 1950s, an aspiring painter or writer could rent a funky little beach house for next to nothing, but places (or prices) like that don’t exist anymore. Young artists are hard-pressed to find anything both cool and affordable in today’s Sarasota, and even wildly successful ones don’t do well in ritzy gated communities. They need their own kind of space—filled with light, a place to coax the muse, in a neighborhood where different cultures meet and feed off each other. True, the recent real estate slump has put some places within reach of even struggling artists, but ultimately, price doesn’t matter; it’s all about individuality.

An artist’s needs are specific. First of all, his or her home is a place to work. Sculptors and painters need a studio. Writers and musicians want a dedicated workspace, preferably something soothing and exciting at the same time. A great kitchen is another necessity. The time spent cooking and at meals with family and friends is often a form of rejuvenation. And most important of all, they need a strong connection to nature, where all art begins.

We’ve taken a look at what is currently on the market and come up with a portfolio of homes that would be eminently suitable for a Sarasota artist. The prices range from $185,000 to $849,000, the locations from downtown all the way up to Cortez. There is nothing run of the mill here. Each one is unique—serene, grounded, a perfect place to summon the muse.

2367 Main St.

This two bedroom, two bath downtown cottage is in the shadow of the high rises, yet it is surrounded by a garden that would do credit to Marie Selby herself. In fact, many of the plants were acquired from Selby, by the owner, when he worked there. The effect is a tropical Key West atmosphere, private and closed off from the world by bamboo and flowering trees. The cottage itself is a 1950s concrete block home, nicely updated, with tile floors and a very bourgeois kitchen complete with granite counters and stainless steel appliances. And most remarkable of all is the price: $185,000. Call the owner, Ben Appel, at (941) 350-7703. 

Rizpoc Building

New York has SoHo, we have the Rosemary District. And one of its anchors is the new Rizpoc building at the corner of Central and Fifth. Painted a lime-sherbert green it contains six loft-style condos, all two story, ranging from XX to XX. The finishes are very high end and the view from the balconies down to the intimate scale of Central Avenue and its galleries, restaurants (Derek’s and the Olive Oil Company are across the street) and architects’ offices define what’s hip in Sarasota at the moment. Troy Pittman at SKY Sotheby’s is the listing agent; call him at (941) 308-6562.

1317 North Riverside Drive.

History, art, and craftsmanship all blend in this meticulously restored 1920s home on Riverside Drive, just a block or so from Ringling College. Set on almost an acre of land, the house has a nostalgic charm that getting harder and harder to find. What impressed us the most was the labor of love – and imagination – that owner Scott Willams has put into the renovation. The floors have been beautifully brought back to life and the formal dinning room has intricate custom cabinetry. Best of all is the secret door, hidden behind a bookcase, that leads to the master bedroom and its brand new marble bath. There’s also a separate cottage that would function perfectly as a studio. It’s priced at $450,000. Call Scott at (941) 351-8511.

809 S. Jefferson

This two bedroom cottage is one of the oldest houses in Sarasota. Originally built in 1913, it started off life as a church; later it housed the town’s first mailman and his family. It’s been lovingly restored by its current owner, a photographer and artist. Many of the details are original; others come from Sarasota Architectural Salvage (including the claw foot bath tub.) The kitchen, plumbing, and electrical systems are all up to date. The color scheme is playful and historically accurate, and we love the cottage-style garden. It’s priced at $299,000. Call Nancy Werner at (941) 923-8222. 

12124 45th Ave Dr West, Cortez

Old Florida as its most pure. This bayfront Cortez classic has been the homestead of one the town’s pioneering fishermen’s family. Added on to over the years, it boasts almost 2400 sq feet, with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. The 20x30 master suite on the second floor opens on to a sun deck with magnificent views of the bay and Longboat Key. It sits on a lot of almost half an acre, with a 61 foot seawall. A detached workshop with AC and water would make a great studio. The asking price is $849,000. It’s being sold by the owner; he can be reached at 941- 795-7174. 

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