Notice the catchy artwork this week on the cover of our Best of Arkansas issue?
That's the work of Jose Hernandez. He's now news. He was locked out of his Dedicated Art Studio at 320 W. 7th Street yesterday for what the city said were code, zoning and fire safety violations, according to a detailed news release from a friend of and occasional contributor to the Times, Leonard Stern.
You'll find Leonard's full report on the jump. Efforts are underway to cure issues with the city — and the landlord as well — so that the studio can reopen Sept. 1 as an art studio and gallery and venue for performances. It's going to take some help, but many volunteers have risen to the cause.
DEDICATED ARTS STUDIO EVICTED
HAS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1 TO REMEDY CODE AND FIRE VIOLATIONS
On Thursday, July 19, artist Jose Hernandez was locked out of his Dedicated Art Studio at 320 West 7th St. in Little Rock. Hernandez was cited by the City Zoning Department and Fire Marshal for code, zoning and fire safety violations.
As a result, the building’s property manager, Flagship issued Hernandez a three-day eviction notice the following Monday despite Hernandez’s claim he is current on both his rent and utilities.
Hernandez and others met with building owners Thursday, July 27 and worked out a short-term plan that will allow the studio to re-open by September 1. The plan includes satisfying approximately $4,000 is unpaid expenses and bringing the building back into code.
The owners expressed a willingness to work with Hernandez on a friendly and long-term basis but serious challenges lay ahead if the Studio is to survive.
According to the Planning and Development Department’s Dana Carney, the only way Dedicated can regain entrance is for the owner to obtain building, electrical and plumbing permits and hire licensed contractors to bring the building up to code.
The building is currently zoned UU (urban usage) for general urban use which prevents Dedicated from holding performances that draw more than 50 people.
Since the arts space was founded in February, Hernandez has funded Dedicated with art and gift revenues at the storefront and by painting murals, screen printing, most notably for private patrons, and Heights’ businesses such as Sushi Cafe.
Dedicated was formed by Jose Hernandez as a sole-proprietorship in December 2011. Hernandez has been painting murals and been active in community outreach for the past 10 years, which have included arts education and creative assistance for troubled and/or disadvantaged children.
In March, Sid Scott, 33, formed a non-profit community center called Little Rock Freegeek and set up shop in the downtown building. Freegeek, which is nationally affiliated with an organization by the same name, collects used and broken computers, cell phones and other electronic hardware and provides computers, education and job skills free to the public.
Problems began to arise when the Dedicated Arts Studio began hosting performances by artists who appealed foremost to Millennials, young adults in their twenties. The easygoing atmosphere and radical music began to draw more and more people, taxing the gallery’s meager resources.
Despite a few incidents, the Dedicated Arts Studio proved to be a secure, interesting and lively place to hang out, meet uncommon people and experience the artistic side of life, whatever that may be.
In the wake of the upheaval caused by violations and citations, Dedicated formed a board of directors to offer support and guidance.
The Dedicated Board includes the following divisions and members:
This board of Dedicated members envisions a future for the Little Rock community that embraces both art and artistic values.
Mr. Hernandez said, “We are in the process of forming an artists’ collective; a place where young creative people can produce, perform and even market their own work.”
The collective will serve the public by providing workshops and classes teaching practical skills that can generate income and self-sufficiency.
Hernandez envisions an art space, not a gallery, where anyone can learn artistic techniques from mural painting, screen printing, and photography to expressive dance or trades such as gardening, energy and water conservation, or even electronic game development.
Art can bring a new sense of vibrancy to the community. Next door to the Dedicated Site is a large warehouse store that sells merchandise off-loaded from the local estate sales. Some have expressed interest in opening a restaurant there.
Funky shops, theaters and restaurants populate the Seventh Street Corridor which is fast growing into an eclectic arts district that cuts across cultural, ethnic and artistic lines.
“It has never been easy for those who think or behave in contrast to the status quo,” Hernandez said, “but we aim to nurture a community that will grow into one of acceptance and encouragement — a community passionate to represent positive change, and above all, to be DEDICATED.
Dedicated Web Site: http://dedicatedlr.wordpress.com/