Artists thrive in cooperative studio
Michael Frommer lives and paints on Galveston Island. He refers to the beauty of the Texas Coast and the rare, historic lines of the city’s structures as “unique wallpaper” from which he pulls artistic inspiration for his work. And the environment he chooses to create his art in is just as unique.
The Artists’ Studio & Gallery is the brainchild of owner/operator Elizabeth George. She and her husband, Jim, own the property at 1902 Ave. N in Galveston, where he operates a law office upstairs and she works cooperatively with four other artists in residence in the studio and gallery downstairs.
The space is designed much like the artists who work there — open and casual. George is quick to point out that they don’t just share the costs for studio space, but also share in each other’s creative process.
“We feed off each other and bounce ideas around without fear of competition or judgment,” George said.
Although each artist generally works in a different medium and focuses on different subject matters, they all agree that working together has its advantages.
Aubrey Garcia is an acrylic painter and photographer of birds. She moved from Houston to Galveston in January 2013, when her husband became the immigration attorney for the University of Texas Medical Branch. She drove by the studio by happenstance one afternoon and the gallery sign piqued her interest. Garcia was looking for space beyond the reach of her curious 5-year-old’s hands.
“Oftentimes, at home, other things can take precedence over your art,” Garcia said.
Frommer is an artistic nomad. His paintings and photographs reflect his travels from New York to Los Angeles. He and his wife, Susan Shure, have spent the last few years chasing their grandchildren throughout the country. He was happy to find a temporary home at The Artists’ Studio & Gallery.
Najet Ayachi’s watercolors reflect her extensive travels. She spent five years teaching at a high-level school of visual and performing arts for children of active U.S. military personnel overseas. This native Galvestonian is happy to be painting and living back on home turf. The studio is upbeat and affirming, she said.
Regina Lee Parkinson is the newest artist in residence, joining in April. Although new to the studio, she is no stranger to Galveston.
“I’ve always lived by and loved the water,” Parkinson said. “I love the vibe in Galveston and find its history inspiring.”
Many of Parkinson’s acrylics and multimedia pieces are in private collections around the world, including Hong Kong, Switzerland and Amsterdam; several pieces adorn the walls of the Hotel ICON, a Four Diamond Houston establishment.
Jamaica Beach resident Martha Broday specializes in whimsical underwater scenes with an emphasis on mermaids. Although her work is being shown and sold at the gallery, she currently creates in her home studio.
Together, they have become a “Brady Bunch” like family that values round-table discussions and makes group decisions.
It would not be uncommon to walk into an engaging discussion on whether or not the extra income from art classes would outweigh the interruption to the artists’ creative flow. Or how to better utilize other shopkeepers’ space during Galveston’s ArtWalks, which occur every six weeks on the island. And, if you do happen to walk in on an in-house debate, grab a cup of coffee, sit on the couch and throw in your own two cents. This group takes the meaning of “cooperative” to heart.
What started out as shared studio space has now transitioned into a formal gallery, open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, and also by appointment. The studio has room for six artists in residence at a time. Visit www.Galvestonstudio.com for information.