The new enterprise features a gallery and affordable studio spaces for artists.
Grand Opening is Thursday, March 30
(March 8, 2023) Noted local abstract artist Craig Palmer recently opened Palmer Modern, Sarasota’s newest art gallery with working artist studios. The enterprise is a spacious, converted warehouse located at 925 North Lime Avenue in the neighborhood known as the Limelight District. The event is Thursday, March 30, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Palmer, who is known for his large-scale abstract paintings and commission work, says he chose the Limelight District for Palmer Modern because “the area is quickly transitioning into a major arts destination. With the addition of my new space, there are now 27 artists within walking distance from each other. Having a high density of artists in one area is a win for the artists and those looking to purchase local art.” For now, Palmer plans to feature his own work in the gallery, but he is exploring options to include the work of other area-based artists.
He explains that Palmer Modern features an art gallery and includes a studio for himself as well as affordable studios for five additional artists. The artists at Palmer Modern enjoy such amenities as a kitchen, lounge area, space to publicly display their work, and private, secure studios. The gallery and working artist studios are open to the public Tuesday through Saturday.
“Visitors can meet each artist and watch them work,” says Palmer. “It offers an excellent opportunity to have meaningful engagement with artists and learn about their processes and inspiration. Some of the most interesting conversations are when visitors observe my work and explain to me what they see. It made me aware that everyone has their own unique interpretation and experience of abstract art, and I like to believe that it helps inspire creativity for the viewer.”
Where does Palmer draw his own inspiration? His backstory is fascinating.
Palmer is a classically trained artist who spent more than 30 years specializing in traditional oil portraits. After decades of soul searching, he began to explore the integration of realism and abstraction by taking the skills and knowledge he learned as a realistic artist and applying them to abstract painting.
“As I evolved as an artist, I began to see the world through a new and exciting lens,” says Palmer. “I discovered I could apply the traditional techniques that I was trained in, which at times felt constrictive, and learn to enjoy the playfulness of creating large format abstract concepts. Instead of rendering the life out of my subjects, I attempt to capture the spirit and soul of whatever I paint.”
Palmer graduated from Parsons School of Design as an illustration major in 1983. His first regular portrait commissions came from painting portraits of NYC police officers upon their retirement. His work in those early years was dedicated to creating highly detailed renderings from photographic references using acrylics and a finely sharpened pencil. He was “coloring between the lines” and was applauded for it. That’s the kind of work that got him his first full-time job as a commercial illustrator at a daily newspaper. While the job was exciting, he was never truly inspired as an artist; he was just “coloring between the lines and it was just work.” Eventually, Palmer met Tom Buechner, an acclaimed artist, who became his mentor. Palmer says Buechner taught him that “painting is simple. All you need to do is take the perfect color, put it in the perfect place with the perfect stroke and you have a great painting.” Palmer says that, although that’s always his goal, he spent more years with a “love/hate relationship with art. I couldn’t shake my dependence upon detail, over rendering everything.” After decades of soul searching, Palmer did what he thought he could never do—he created his first abstract painting. “Finally, at age 60, I am coloring outside the lines. And, now with Palmer Modern, being able to share space with other artists and surround myself with those people who pursue artistic explorations, well, my artistic life has come full circle.”
Palmer Modern is located at 925 North Lime Avenue, Sarasota; 941-894-7394;