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When Derek Gores owned his art studio on West Eau Gallie Boulevard from 2014-18, he remembers creating collages during the day, pushing objects aside so Not Quite Right Improv could come in at night, and has “swept” the place for First Fridays and a gallery shows.
Now, Gores and his wife, Cassandra Visik, plan to transform a three-store building into an eclectic, multi-themed “mini art center” on Highland Avenue, in the heart of Eau Gallie’s downtown shopping district.
This is the building that houses Ralph’s Art Supply. The owner, longtime merchant Ralph Sanders, is retiring — and passing the proverbial torch — and selling the structure after 28 years of management. Gores hopes to close the purchase on September 21.
“This is my first foray into this kind of world,” Gores said.
The Gores Color Game Plan:
- He will work with Sanders distributors and continue to sell art supplies at the store at 1420 Highland Ave. Gores will also create a new “nostalgic department store feel” and add locally inspired retail products.
- A future additional tenant will replace Art Abilities, a glass ceramics studio in the southernmost storefront.
- Gores will open his gallery and art workshop in the middle storefront, which previously housed Causeway Records. It plans to host evening creative classes led by visiting artists.
“This is an area that the Foosaner (Art Museum) could use. There’s a whole network. There are people who travel to attend classes. So we intend to have a robust schedule of visiting teachers in many art forms,” Gores said.
“I want my place to be a place of discovery where you can come and learn, get hands-on and experience. Something fresh on the mind all the time,” he said.
Built in 1955, the building has 4,884 square feet of floor space. Gores did not disclose the purchase price, saying the sale remains pending.
Gores is an innovative collage artist of the new contemporary movement whose clients range from the NFL and ESPN to Lenny Kravitz and Van Halen to Heineken and Prada.
In 2017, Gores created the Playboy cover for the magazine’s 120-page special edition featuring founder Hugh Hefner. In December, Porsche commissioned him to create an automotive display of the company’s art installation at Art Basel Miami.
Gores exhibited in December at the SCOPE Art Show in Miami Beach and hosted a solo show in February at Galley 14 in Vero Beach. Today, he estimates that about ⅓ of his income comes from local art sales, ⅓ from out-of-town exhibitions and ⅓ from commissions.
As of 2018, Gores has been working out of his “semi-secret studio” on Cypress Avenue Square, on the west side of US 1.
Gores and Sanders were instrumental in the revitalization of the Eau Gallie Arts District, which emerged in or around 2000 as a branded catalyst for replacing destruction with creative economic development. In fact, Gores said Sanders has been called “the mayor of O Galley.”
Gores is the past president of the EGAD board of directors, while Sanders is the past chairman of the advisory board of the Eau Gallie Community Redevelopment Agency. In that capacity, Sanders helped guide the 2002-2007 transformation of a weedy, vacant lot in Eau Gallie Square, a city park with a gangway.
Sanders’ store was previously called Art Supply of Melbourne. Now 70, he said he plans to retire by traveling – “something I’ve held back for 30 years”.
When Sanders moved in in the 1990s, he says Eau Gallie already boasted an artsy environment: the Eau Gallie Used Bookstore; Fiddler’s Dream fiddle seat; Kevin Roberts’ Intimate Images photo studio; musical instrument store Horn Section; Community Harvest Natural Foods Market.
Zoning regulations and the Great Recession slowed EGAD’s development for years, but Sanders and Gores said the community is now thriving.
“What we’ve been missing, and it’s starting to show now, is that we’ve never had a restaurant. We never had anywhere to go to drink. Or let’s go meet. We didn’t have a park back then,” Sanders said.
Gores produced the Dreamland Miniature Golf & More pop-up art installation at the indoor Foosaner Art Museum, which offers a range of activities from April to June. With the purchase of the building, he said he plans to build on the history of Ralph’s Art Supply and the surrounding art-centric area of Eau Gallie as a whole.
“For me, we got traction when we opened our eyes to what creativity entails. After we did that, we set out to make a cool cafe (Anaya). This is their art,” Gores said.
“Intra – I mean they’ve made about 700 different brews,” he said, referring to Intracoastal Brewing Co., which opened in 2013. “They could probably do five and be excited and just make money, but they continue with their creativity. This is their art.” he said.
“We have Standard Collective on the corner and their nods to all different art forms, like fashion. We have some architects in the neighborhood and hair salons. Once you string them together as a story, you realize it’s kind of like this shop-to-shop part of urban culture,” he said.
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