Monday, September 16, 2013

Loft 55 Gallery and Boutique

Via Facebook, I got an invitation from Ashlie Lawson a partner and director of marketing at Loft 55 Gallery and Boutique (55 West Church Street, suite 114, Orlando, Florida) to paint live on Wednesday nights. For $10 artists can set up outside the gallery which is in the breezeway between Urban Flats and 7-11 in front of the fountain. All local artists are welcome to join the resident artists every Wednesday night to paint live. It is the perfect time, (7pm to 10pm) and day to take advantage of Wind Down Wednesdays at Urban Flats which is a very crowded outdoor happy hour only a few steps away from the gallery. The live painting event is a great opportunity for artists to gain exposure and build up their presence in the arts community. If anything is sold, then the gallery gets a 20% commission for gallery efforts. If you bring another artist, the gallery offers commission discounts.

On Wednesday August 28th, I went to the gallery to sketch. Ashley referred to Loft 55 as a micro-gallery. Apparently these are all the rage in NYC and Chicago. The space is only about three feet deep, just enough room for you to stand back a little bit from each painting. It is all store front and the work is easily viewed without going inside. A large pyramid shaped fountain trickles in front of the entrance. I started sketching immediately and I waited patiently for the other artists to set up and start to work. Artists who painted that evening included Danny Rock, Leroy Santos, Robert Moore and Darrell Johnson. I spoke to Darrell for sometime about his art. He uses intricate ink line work and watercolor washes so we had much in common.

On display in the Gallery were paintings that revolved around the theme of autism. Artists were given three months to create a painting of their meaning of autism. 100% of all sales went to The Academy of Autism. This sort of selfless giving sets Loft 55 apart as it makes a difference in the Orlando community. Since all the resident artists donated their artwork, Ashley showed her appreciation by inviting them for the judging and ceremony of the "Artist for Autism Challenge" on August 29, 2013.  There were some appetizers and a few refreshments. All art work was judged the night of the ceremony by three local advocates of the Orlando Arts and Culture community, Barbara Hartley the Director at City Arts Factory, Ashlie Rolfe, Showcase Director at RAW Artist and Samuel Rivera  Owner and Curator of Loft 55 Gallery and Boutique. The first place piece was a collaboration between Travis Smith and Ralph Verano. The second place piece was by Peter Van Flores III. All of the art from the "Art for a Social Change Project" will be exhibited at the Academy for Autism once it leaves Loft 55.

Ashley is an artist herself and she was a constant whirlwind of activity as I sketched. She sold several paintings, spoke to every artist and was returning art to an artist from a previous exhibit.  She set up fans outside the gallery to keep the artists comfortable in the twilight heat. She was working on small square paintings that were abstractions of flowers against a light blue sky that worked together as a triptych. All the artists bring different sensibilities to the gallery. Beautiful women in high heels clomped past the gallery to the downtown clubs. Other less fashionable locals used the water fountain I was sitting next to, or tried to use the bathroom which was unfortunately locked.

Mark Your Calendar! If you would like to join Ashlie Lawson and her resident artists on any Wednesday night, contact her by email: or by phone: 321-298-3806. Downtown is buzzing with creativity, be a part of the hip art scene.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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