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Spotlight on Palm Street Art Studios.

A Floridian artist community can attest that there is strength in numbers and power in group presentations.

Palm Street Art Studios, founded in 1999, is a group of about 100 artists who are working together to raise public awareness about the West Palm Beach art scene as well as enhance the area in which they live and work.

The group is headquartered in a large warehouse in West Palm Beach that offers studio spaces and a foundry to its members. The membership includes painters, sculptors and jewelry designers.

West Palm Beach was, at one time, Considered to be on the "wrong side of the tracks." However, the artist Art Studios founder Helmut Koller.

"We are just across the bridge from Palm Beach, which houses an international well-to-do community," Koller said. "However, until we established our studios, the affluent arts patrons of Palm Beach would never venture across the bridge to come to this area. We have worked very hard to show that West Palm Beach is a vibrant and safe arts community, and we have been extremely successful in attracting an elite clientele to our studios."

The group is so dedicated to the area, in fact, that it commands onetime membership dues from its artist in the form of plants or a palm tree to be planted in the area. "We are dedicated to the beautification our location," said Koller. "Our vision is that when people turn on to Palm Street, they immediately know that they have come to a very special place, a different world that is in abundance of beauty."

One of Palm Street Art Studios' biggest undertakings is an annual invitation-only exhibition that has become a major draw for the area. The event started as a safe haven for artists, noted Koller. "We wanted to provide an area for artists to show their works without the threat of being rejected by galleries, dealers or collectors" he said. "We wanted to provide a place where they could show any works they wanted to an exclusive list of guests."

The annual show, which began as a manageable cocktail party, has grown by leaps and bounds. "This year we had about 700 to 800 people attend the show, and we featured the works of 36 artists," said Koller. "The show works well for everyone. In many cases, lesser-known artists are able to piggyback on the attraction of more well-known names. This is a wonderful way of getting works by newer artists seen."

Koller cites artist Jefro as a Palm Street Art Studios' success story. The artist's work has gained recognition from galleries and collectors, who were introduced to him via the association's annual show.

"I have been involved with Palm Street since the first show and it has been an asset in my career," said Jefro. Through the annual shows, I have been placed in a gallery in Palm Beach and in shows in Santa Fe, N.M., and Naples, Fla. The glory of our art show is that it helps a group of artists as a whole and does not highlight one person exclusively."

Jefro paints figurative abstracts in acrylic and self-publishes giclee editions of 50 that wholesale for about $200.

The next objective on the association's list is gaining national exposure. "We've reached our goal of getting emerging artists more regional exposure through their connection with international artists. Now we are taking the next step," said Koller. "We want to give small museums around the country a high-quality show with only transportation costs to pay. If we could do that, we would gain great national exposure."

Koller noted that when Palm Street Art Studios and its member artists gain national exposure, the group will remain devoted to its West Palm Beach roots. "We once discussed doing our annual show somewhere else, but what we have here is the linchpin--having our artists open their studios."
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Title Annotation:news; Palm Street Art Studios
Author:King, Carol
Publication:Art Business News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2004
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