Located at 2670 Phyllis Street is Space 42. A former industrial warehouse, this 22,000 square foot building now serves the community as a place where art, technology, and creative entrepreneurship converge. The ambitious team behind Space 42, which includes wife and husband duo Michelle and Kevin Calloway, are building upon multi-faceted aspirations to plant a beacon in the ground near the corner of Roselle and King in an effort to proudly transmit to the surrounding world that cool things exist there. And, in even larger terms, that cool things exist in Jacksonville, Florida.
It takes courage, foresight, imagination, and a healthy tolerance for risk to take on a project as substantial as converting a structure the size of Space 42. Truth be told, it's the type of conversion that pipe dreams are made of but few individuals actually have the vision and access to resources that allow them to pursue. That said, those involved with Space 42 are proving what is possible with the right plan of attack and the right team of associates leading the charge. Through it all, however, the team also acknowledges that there is a learning curve for this type of transformative initiative and it requires one to be adaptive, willing to admit what they don't know, and also okay with learning from trial and error.
In many ways, Space 42 is an embodiment of Michelle, Kevin, their interests, and their past professional ventures. This endeavor provides them the opportunity to manifest their passions into existence each and every day. In 2006, Kevin, a native of Jacksonville, founded IJHANA, a global technology consulting firm with a heavy focus on collaboration that helps companies shape their business strategies and implement solutions that drive impactful change, reach more customers, and build lasting competitive advantages. Michelle, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, studied the arts in college and pursued a career as a freelance photographer. The “New Bold City,” one of her current series in progress, is an urban exploration of the rich diversity and creative expression of the newest generation of individuals living and working in the American South.
Since opening its doors to the public in early 2017, Space 42 has been utilized to attract international and national artists to Jacksonville while also providing opportunities for artists of our region. They have brought artists Michael Alan, John Carr, and Estee Ochoa to Northeast Florida, while also working with Jacksonville based artists Malcolm Jackson, Elena Øhlander, Jason Tetlak, and George Cornwell, amongst others. They have collaborated with Renaissance Jax, MOCA Jacksonville, the Cultural Council, The Makery, and many others. Most recently, Space 42 partnered with Southern Roots Filling Station to present the Arts District Farmers Market, which they host every Wednesday from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM.
In February 2018, Michelle founded ArtView42 as an extension of Space42. Through interviews, photography, videos, podcasts, and more, ArtView42 provides a platform for creatives to robustly express their work and processes, their personalities, and their lifestyles. Michelle has conducted interviews with Elena Øhlander, Jordan Mixson (aka The Sockateur), Jenna Summa, Ashley Woodson Bailey, Erin Kendrick, and others.
In early April, Space 42 formally announced the launch of their Artist-in-Residence program. This exciting new program offers artists from Jacksonville, and around the world, the studio space and resources necessary to create their works. Space 42 welcomed their inaugural resident artist, Luisa Posada Bleier, during the spring of 2018. The Colombian-born visual artist has previously exhibited her work in solo and group shows in Columbia, Germany, and Spain. On Thursday, May 3, Space 42 will host an opening reception for Bleier's solo exhibition, which is the artist's first solo show in the United States. Join them starting at 7:00 PM to learn more about the venue and artist.
10 Questions with the Calloways of Space 42
Space 42 is described as a creative incubator. What do you see as unique advantages that position Jacksonville as a city suitable and capable of developing and advancing artists, arts professionals, art educators, and even art appreciators?
Space 42 has allowed us to explore, take risks and create original experiences that Jacksonville has embraced. The beauty of Jacksonville is that it is an emerging creative hub, which is a great environment for concepts like Space 42. The artists we have worked with through our artist-in-residence program have found Jacksonville to be an amazing place for exploring their art from a different perspective.
Every artist whom we’ve shown in our gallery has utilized the landscape of Jacksonville and the physical landscape of Space 42 as inspiration for their shows. We’ve had interest from artists based in metropolitan cities, such as New York City and Los Angeles, who want to work with Space 42 to create major shows in Jacksonville because they are drawn to the creative freedom provided by Jacksonville and Space 42.
Recently, Space 42 launched an artist-in-residence program. One of the objectives of this program is to provide artists with the resources necessary to create. What do you see as some of the largest challenges related to acquisition and distribution of resources amongst Jacksonville's arts and cultural sector and what strategies does Space 42 have in place to help overcome those challenges?
We started the artist-in-residence program in part to help artists acquire the resources they need to push themselves and explore who they are as artists. For us, the residency program is the perfect scenario, because it allows the artists to be inspired by the space and it gives them the opportunity to collaborate with our team and local artist.
Part of the benefit of having such a large space (22,000 sq. ft.) is the ability to invite individuals into the space to work, create, and explore. Whether in art, technology, business, or education, it’s important for us to create a collaborative environment for creatives and entrepreneurs. Based on our experience, artists not only want creative freedom, but also a physical space that motivates them to push their work to new levels and in new directions. Our strategy includes encouraging artists to think bigger. The space is large and they have to be ready for that. We want to work with people that are thinking outside the box and have something to say. We don’t limit them at all in their ideas; instead, we do our best to facilitate their vision to the best of our ability.
In that sense physical space is one of most valuable resources one can give to an artist and for the right artist Space 42 fills that void.
Space 42 is more than just a gallery. It is also an event space that seeks ways to converge art, technology, and creative entrepreneurship. What are some examples in Jacksonville that stand out to you as a cross-section of these disciplines?
Since the beginning of IJHANA in 2006, we have merged technology, art, and entrepreneurship because we believe these concepts all play into a bigger picture of innovation. At the end of the day, artists, developers, and entrepreneurs are all looking for the same thing - someone to believe in their idea and help them with the resources and tools needed to explore it. Space 42 is the realization of this idea and the current landscape in Jacksonville made it possible.
Jacksonville is a city on the verge - it’s growing and changing at such a rapid pace right now. We want to be a part of that growth, while adding to that momentum.
If more companies embrace the idea of Technology + Art = Magic we would really start to see our city push itself, which in turn, would prompt the outside world to take notice.
Luisa Posada Bleier, a mixed-media fine artist from Colombia, is your current artist in residence. On May 3, Space 42 will debut new works by Bleier. This is Bleier's first solo show in the United States. What attracted you to Bleier's work and what do you hope to achieve through both bringing her to Jacksonville and showcasing her work in an exhibition?
We we’re attracted to her vision as an artist and what she wanted to accomplish in the space. She was inspired by the space, which it turn inspired us. Through this collaboration, we have developed a deep respect for each other and have developed a friendship that will last a lifetime. We hope that her show inspires others to think differently and to experience something new in the city.
In the past six months, Space 42 has exhibited work by two different Latina artists. What role do you see Space 42 playing in advancing diversity, inclusion, and equity in Jacksonville?
First and foremost, we look for artist who inspire us and who have something to say with their work. Our goal is to bring a new perspective to Jacksonville and create concepts that haven’t been seen before, here or anywhere. We are honored to have had the ability to work with such a diverse group of talented artists thus far.
Renovating a warehouse is no small undertaking. What have been some of the biggest challenges along the way and what have you learned about yourself through the process?
The biggest challenge is the constant learning process. Everyday is a new challenge, and because of that, we are continually learning and growing. We decided from the beginning that we weren’t going to let the state of the building affect what we were willing to do. At every stage of renovation we have curated a show around what will fit the space in its current condition. This has allowed us to keep moving and not be paralyzed by the building not being “perfect.” Keep moving and innovating is the mindset has allowed us the freedom to do so.
What do you look for in a project or person when selecting your subjects for ArtView42? Additionally, how do you think the arts and cultural sector in Northeast Florida could benefit from more people writing about, photographing, or talking about arts and cultural initiatives?
Artview42 began as a way for us to promote our artists and the individuals we were interacting with on a daily basis. The platform serves as a look into the artists’ lives and their process, which is extremely valuable when it comes to connecting with a piece of art. Our idea is that you are more likely to support an artist if you know about their lives and personality.
One of the key components of the platform is the #artisttalk podcast. This allows us to interview artists from all over the world and showcase local artists on a national and even global scale. We hope that by doing so we can begin to create a rich dialog about Jacksonville and the artists living and working here. After all, the more eyes and ears you have on artists the better!
What most excites you about being a participant in Jacksonville's rapidly developing arts and cultural sector?
We see the potential in this city and we want to help maximize that. The collaboration of art and technology is a key to Jacksonville’s growth. We’re constantly inspired by the opportunity to connect artists from other cities with the artists living and working here, and vice versa. If we can introduce Jacksonville artists to galleries and audiences of the international artists we work with then this is a win for the Jacksonville market. This type of collaboration is the most exciting aspect of what we do.
What has been your biggest takeaway to-date since starting Space 42 and what are some goals for the next 6-12 months?
The biggest takeaway has been the collaborative opportunities that the space has provided in our first year. Last year we hosted over 20 events including art shows,
Lecture series, STEM programs, farmers markets, and robotic tournaments. We’ve learned that the ability to fulfill a vision, whether it’s an art show, new startup, or piece of technology is much easier to do if you collaborate with the right people. It’s not always about securing funding; many times people just need mentorships and a space to work – and we offer both of those. Our goals for the future include helping to bolster Jacksonville’s cultural relevance by constantly pushing both ourselves and the limits of our city.
What would you like to see as an effort to grow and support Jacksonville's arts and cultural sector?
More collaboration. It’s really that simple.
We'd like to thank Michelle and Kevin Calloway for their participation in this interview. We'd also like to thank you for reading.
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