New WA Gallery in Dixieland will house artist studios, exhibition spaces – News – The Ledger

WA Studio and Gallery is in a 1950s-era commercial strip center at 1028 S. Florida Ave. that most recently housed a laser ink and jet recharging company.

LAKELAND — For the past four years, Lakeland artist Robyn Kurdas’ cats were sparkling as much as her art.

In her cramped home studio, the 23-year-old multimedia artist would often use glitter for projects, which would fall from her workspace and onto the fur of one or more of her five cats, turning them into colorful, moving mosaics of fur.

So when Kurdas found out that fellow Lakeland artist and plein air painter David Collins had bought a strip center on South Florida Avenue to turn into art studios, galleries and an events center, she was the first to sign a studio lease agreement.

WA (Working Artists) Studio and Gallery is in a 1950s-era commercial strip center at 1028 S. Florida Ave. that most recently housed a laser ink and jet recharging company. It’s across from the Dixieland Mall.

Collins closed on the purchase of the 3,350-square-foot center March 31. He said the number of working artists’ studios and galleries is few in downtown Lakeland, with Lost Art Gallery and Arts on the Park Inc. being the only ones he knows.

Collins plans to have the new, collaborative studio-gallery space open by the spring.  The former retail spaces are being transformed into 12 artists’ studios ranging in size from 8 by 12 feet for $155 per month, to 12 by 16 feet at $275 per month. All but three of the small “easel” studios had been leased through earlier this week.

“I believe we didn’t have enough studio spaces around the area,” said Collins, who is noted for painting a 20-foot giraffe on a tree in Munn Park in January 2016.

“But it’s not just studios,” he said. “This is also about mentoring and encouraging emerging artists to find their ways to profitability.”

As Ed Masseo of Masseo Electric Inc., Lakeland, replaced light fixtures in the gallery hall Friday, Kurdas looked around her…

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