10 Questions with Ed Malesky, Board of Director and Member Artist of The Art Center Cooperative, Inc.
The Art Center Cooperative (TAC) is a non-profit corporation whose focus is to cultivate talent and make art accessible to the residents of Jacksonville. TAC supports this objective through its community partnerships and two galleries and studio spaces located in downtown Jacksonville. TAC's Main Gallery is located in The Jacksonville Landing and TAC IIis located at the corner of North Hogan Street and West Monroe Street. Both locations are accessible by public transportation and are in close proximity to other cultural institutions such as the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA), and the Jacksonville Public Library.
TAC operates as a cooperative, which means that artists interested in utilizing their offerings must apply for a membership. TAC relies on active participation by its member artists in the curating, sales, and maintenance of their galleries. As a result of their participation, members are allowed to display 2-5 works in the galleries and they are featured on TAC's website. What is on display in the galleries is rotated on a monthly basis and visitors can buy original works or art or prints.
For an additional cost, member artists can also lease studio space at either of TAC's downtown locations. Studio's in TAC II boast window views that overlook Hemming Park. Inside the TAC II studios you will find artists such as Rob Middleton and Ingrid Mathurin, both of whom have previously participated in 10 questions interviews.
Ed Malesky, a woodturner, is a member artist of TAC. Malesky, who also serves on TAC's Board of Directors, works with wood native to Florida. Malesky also participates in Turning Arts Group, a wood turning collaborative that consists of himself, Bob Hunt, Gene O'Donnell, and Tom Grzybala.
Malesky first started working with wood to create furniture and projects for the home. In 2009, Malesky shifted his focused to projects that involved shaping wood using a lathe. Once shaped, Malesky adds color and texture to his work by using dyes, paints, pyrography, and other processes, which he does to stimulate the viewer to see something beyond just a piece of wood.
On June 9th TAC will host an opening reception for "A Collaboration of Voices: An Artistic Reflection of JASMYNGuiding Principles." The reception will be held at the Main Gallery.
10 Questions with Ed Malesky
What is the mission of your organization?
“To kindle, support and celebrate the artistic, cultural and creative spirit of the community while promoting our member artists' professional careers through exposure.”
This means we not only focus on helping our members become the artists that they want to be, but we also want to help enrich the artistic experience in Jacksonville.
When was your organization formed and how has it grown?
In 2005, a small group of artists felt it was time to have a place for accomplished and emerging artists to display their work. There was also a commitment to work together and establish a gallery that was approachable to everyone, host shows that gave local artists opportunities to display their work, and to work on projects in the city to enhance the appreciation of art. From this concept our cooperative was born.
Over the years we have had nearly 100 artists become members of the cooperative. We currently have about 25 members, which is pretty typical. When we started we had one location which housed our member gallery, show gallery, and some artist studios. We have been in a number of different locations over the years, but for the last three years we have maintained our member and show gallery, our workshop space, and four artist studios at our location in The Landing.
We also have a gallery and our major artist studio space at TAC II on Hogan St.
What strategies are in place within your organization for you to engage your audiences?
The gallery is open daily during the week and we are also open for special events, receiving over 10,000 visitors annually. We also host 5-6 themed shows each year that are open to both member and non-member artists. While the public is invited to view the show during it’s entire run, there are special opening receptions for each show.
We have always been strong supporters of Jacksonville Art Walk. Typically we get 400-500 visitors during Art Walk and have had well over 10,000 visitors since Art Walk began.
Why is art and culture important?
So many of our visitors comment that in this hectic, commercially focused world, they really like the opportunity to take a breath and enjoy beautiful art. We feel that the art and culture allows people to think about things in a way that their regular life generally does not afford. While art can be just beautiful, art can also cause a viewer to stop and think about what the art is saying and prompt a deep introspection. The balance of the everyday worldview and the appreciation of the art in the world is a healthy way to create a holistic framework for one’s life.
What’s your organization’s next major milestone and is this milestone part of a long-term plan?
Our ultimate goal is to own our own building, integrating our galleries, workshop, and studio artist offerings. We have always had a commitment to stay located in downtown Jacksonville, which makes this goal even more complicated to achieve.
In the interim, we want to make TAC II on Hogan St. a place for additional art events, such as pop-up and guest artist shows. We also want to expand our collaboration with other arts and cultural groups in Jacksonville to go beyond just art shows. We continually look to get involved in a greater way in the City’s Art in Public Places program.
What would you like to see in the arts and cultural community in Jacksonville?
One specific thing that would be great to see is an arts and culture event in Jacksonville. We were deeply involved with One Spark the first three years, both as a venue and as a creator. We could see that the city was hungry for a large scale event in downtown. We think the city is ready for something like ArtPrize, South by Southwest, or Art Basel. This would be an opportunity for all the arts and cultural groups to work together, raise Jacksonville’s art profile, and bring both local and out of town people to see what the City has to offer.
Does your organization partner with other organization(s)?
We’ve been involved with Cultural Fusion since it’s inception and we are now part of the Steering Committee. The primary goal of Cultural Fusion is to foster collaboration between our many arts and cultural organizations.
Last year we partnered with Hope and Hand, and organization that engages at-risk youth through poetry therapy. Hope at Hand sent us poems written in their program and we then sent the poems to 25 local artists to interpret. It was amazing to see how the heartfelt words of Jacksonville's youth could trigger a number of different artist interpretations that were manifested in their work. Hope at Hand and the Jacksonville Youth Poetry Slam, who performed the poems, really added to our opening reception.
This year we’re working with JASMYN to help give them a voice by working hand in hand with our artists. We have also worked with HandsOn Jacksonville, Inc. for many years and have created murals all over the county.
What is a program offered by your organization that you’d like to highlight? Additionally, what is an organization that you think more people need to know about?
Our upcoming show with JASMYN is our major collaboration effort this year. After a number of meetings with JASMYN, we decided that we would create a series of mural panels that were based on the guiding principles of their organization. Six of our artists worked with over a dozen JASMYN youth during several sessions to produce artistic representations of their principles, a true collaboration.
This opening reception for this show will be in our gallery at The Landing on June 9 at 5:30PM.
How do you stay up to date with the art and cultural happenings both nationally and in Jacksonville?
Our members are involved in a number of other art organizations in town and keep us aware of events. TAC itself participates in a number of the more formal arts and culture organizations. In addition to our involvement with Cultural Fusion, we are also active with Downtown Visions Incorporated, Cultural Council initiatives, especially Art in Public Places, attending nearly all of the art shows and workshops in town.
How can others get involved with your organization?
Those interested in membership or participation in a show can find all the forms on our website. There is also a lot of other information and artist profiles on the site. We are also on nearly all social media and print outlets in town. However, it’s always worthwhile to come and visit the gallery at The Landing and talk to one of our docents. All our docents are artist members and can give visitors good insight about The Art Center. You can also join our mailing list and get our monthly update e-mailed to you.