The Michaelangelo Gallery and Art Studios is as much a historical landmark as it is a lively foundation for artistic expression. Owner and artist Angelo Grova has carefully preserved a structure representing the industry and craftsmanship unique to this area by establishing a welcoming space to celebrate and explore diverse artwork. As a result, both gallery and Grova have become renowned creative forces inspiring the Santa Cruz arts community.
Michaelangelo Gallery and Art Studios is located on River Street across from the historic Salz Leather Tannery, now a developing cultural center. Built in 1856, the Tannery was once the oldest and largest leather factory west of the Mississippi. The gallery and studio structures used to be attached to the Tannery, and were also used for leather production. Grova intentionally developed the venue to maintain the integrity of the original architecture as much as possible. Despite recent renovations, the buildings have a rustic charm reminiscent of the old Tannery’s farm-house style.
Over the past 25 years, the structures were converted into a 5000 square-foot gallery, 35 surrounding art studios, storage spaces, and one of the first artist live-work studio spaces in Santa Cruz, as well as in the state of California. Property manager and event coordinator Lisa Litten oversees the attractive residential area, which offers qualified professional artists 7 large, affordable spaces to live and work in, (a successful prototype for the evolving Tannery Arts Center across the street).
The main gallery has been used to show the work of more than 800 local and guest artists. Exhibits are on a brief hiatus until later this year, when staff will resume a rotating schedule of monthly art installations that is often booked several years in advance. In the mean time, the gallery doors remain open on weekends from 12am-4pm, and visitors can attend workshops and events held consistently throughout the year.
Grova currently hosts a figure drawing session with a live model every Tuesday evening from 7pm-10pm. Drop-ins are welcome to join the group sessions focusing on sketching the human body in a relaxed and supportive classroom environment. The gallery also offers opportunities for interns to learn about the many dimensions of running a gallery business, by committing to 6 months of 4-hour weekly shifts.
Grova has been a passionate leader in the education, expansion, and experience of local art. He was a recent recipient of the Gail Rich Awards – an esteemed honor for members of the Santa Cruz cultural community. In addition to owning the gallery, he is a nationally renowned artist, was a former faculty member at the UCSC Art Department for 10 years, and ran Art School Santa Cruz in the old Sash Mill complex in the 1980s before opening the present gallery and studios.
As well as creating his own work and fostering the work of other artists, Grova founded the legendary FashionART Santa Cruz. Now celebrating its 11th anniversary, this annual multi-media event is a dynamic runway fashion show for wearable art creations. The event features collections crafted by local and Bay Area designers, and will be held at the Civic Auditorium on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at 7 p.m.
You can find out more about Michaelangelo Gallery and Art Studios, Angelo Grova, and FashionArt Santa Cruz here.