Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Delray Beach - The Artist's Alley

In Delray Beach, an unfortunate story is developing related to the continuance of the Artist's Alley there. Artists of all talents, including world renowned artists, work and display their art at the venue. If you have never been to the Artist's Alley here is a map to get you there. However you better make your trip very soon for the venue is likely to close in the near future; the buildings are going to auction today.
As you see the Artist's Alley is only few blocks north of Atlantic Avenue, just west of the railroad tracks. The venue comprises four buildings and nearly 30 artists work there. The artists helped in the continued renaissance of Delray Beach and they now appear to be victims of their own success. The property has increased in value and will likely attract a developer who will transform it into condominiums and shops.

On October 21, proponents of the Artist's Alley spoke at the Delray Beach City Commission meeting looking for support from Mayor Glickstein and others in the community. Here is a YouTube video of the meeting.

I have nothing but sympathy for the artists. Unfortunately, efforts such as these to save the venue should have started months or even years ago, lining up investors/benefactors and forming the political connections to save the buildings. At this point it is likely too little too late, but yet never ever say never. Surprising things can happen in this world where miracles are still possible and hope remains. If you want to help save the Artist's Alley you can sign the petition here.

Check out the video and I especially encourage you to watch Lori Wasserman Sturgess of 4th Avenue Photography Video. She is not located in the Artist's Alley but strongly advocates for saving the present use in its current location. She likens the Alley to a magnet attracting artist lovers and visitors spending money in the community. You can watch her at 4:45 to 7:05. Pay particular attention to what she says at 6:55 to 7:05.

If you work for the Lake Worth CRA or LULA take a few minutes to pat yourself on the back and jump for joy. Lake Worth is indeed on the map! People in Delray Beach refer to our City of Lake Worth AS COMPETITION. The statement by Ms. Sturgess beginning at 6:55 on the video will no doubt be gratifying for so many in our city who have worked so hard for so many years revitalizing Lake Worth with the help of our artist residents and new/future neighbors. We all wish Ms. Sturgess success saving the Alley, however it is refreshing to hear others outside of Lake Worth, especially in Delray Beach, acknowledge the great strides our city of Lake Worth have made over the years. In a way, Lake Worth's identity is emerging from the shadows of our neighbors.

The City of Lake Worth has many vacant buildings that could be used by artists. In fact the Benzaiten Center will be opening soon with much help from the city and others. The Benzaiten was once an eyesore, a vacant city building for many years. If the Artist's Alley is unable to continue at its current location I would strongly encourage the artists to consider the City of Lake Worth a new home.

If you are an artist interested in learning about Lake Worth a good place to start your search is LULA.


BambolêT said...

Excellent way to get the word out Mr. Blackman. The woman you cite her last name is Sturgess with 2 s's not one.

She does incredible work down in Delray. Joan Oliva as head of the CRA here in Lake Worth has been working with the art community altering the landscape of this city. The Artist Alley story is sad but constant change is part of the artistic process no? I would encourage all artists everywhere to visit the Benzaiten Center to tour that area of our city. Most ordinary people see what looks like postwar Germany but the artist will see a blank canvas.

Wes Blackman said...

Thanks for your comment. I corrected the last name in the text.

Ada Mae (age 86) said...

Former late Mayors Alphonso Calhoun 'Al' Avery, Purple Heart Veteran of WWll, and James A. 'Jim' Stafford would be absolutely enthralled and supportive of this if they were still here.

AnnaMaria Windisch-Hunt said...

As an Artist and long time Art Advocate I strongly hope the CRA will readdress the meeting we had so very long ago about extending the Artist Overlay District in Lake Worth. The time has come.