Finding an affordable space to work can be an artist's greatest challenge. But while searching for studios with great light and space to hang work, Sarasota creatives may find themselves stumbling upon a new workspace in the Rosemary District called Zero Empty Spaces. The business, which was founded in 2019 and seeks to provide affordable studio rental space for artists of all levels, has 18 locations across Florida.
The founders, marketing director Andrew Martineau and technology recruiter Evan Snow, have created and produced other projects, like Art Fort Lauderdale, and own a marketing firm called UniteUsGroup. Zero Empty Spaces began years ago, as Snow and Martineau navigated the commercial retail spaces of Broward County. They realized these spaces, like malls and shopping plazas, were not flourishing like they were in the past. Many were vacant. Fast forward to 2020, and the Covid-19 pandemic increased the number of shop closures last year. The idea behind Zero Empty Spaces is to fill them again, providing an opportunity for artists to work, form community and bring their art to the public.
The new Sarasota location used to be a kickboxing studio underneath the Sarasota Opera residences on Boulevard of the Arts. The kickboxing business shut down due to Covid-19, and the 3,000-square-foot space was gutted. Snow and Martineau divided the space with walls, and it has already been inhabited by 11 artists, who have been working there since May.
"We have had about 150 artists come through our program," says Snow. "Visual artists that paint with acrylics, watercolors and all sorts of mediums can rent a 120-square-foot space for $250 per month plus tax. Each space comes with a workstation, ample light and walls to display their work."
"Once the space opened, artists came flocking in," says Martineau.
"It has been interesting and exciting for us to see the different styles of artwork coming out of it," Snow adds
Artists of any experience level can join the space. Martineau says it's hosted many who began creating during the pandemic and didn't consider themselves professionals until 2020, like Brandon Thrift, as well as seasoned artists like Kathleen Sienna Kelly, assemblage artist Judy Levine and Art Center Sarasota youth program coordinator Barbara Gerdeman. They've already begun collaborating on work and helping each other sell paintings when visitors stop by.
"Artists have 24-hour access to the space, and it will be open to the public from noon to 5 p.m., seven days a week," says Martineau. "Artists will also host classes and studio events for the public to participate in."
Zero Empty Spaces will have open gallery nights during downtown events, too, such as the Rosemary Night Market, which takes place the first Tuesday of every month. Zero Empty Spaces' grand opening will take place on the next market on July 6.
"We are grateful for the immense media coverage that we have been receiving," says Martineau. "We are extending our reach by putting artists front and center in the media, while explaining the benefits of these affordable workspaces."
Zero Empty Spaces Sarasota will host its official grand opening on Tuesday, July 6, during the Rosemary Night Market. The public is welcome to stop by, view artists' work and purchase some of their pieces. The studio is located at 1454 Boulevard of the Arts. For more information, click here or call (954) 361-4998.