Studio: Zero Empty Spaces, 11300 Legacy Ave. Unit #140, Palm Beach Gardens
Medium: Color pencil, watercolor, pen and ink, charcoal
Aptly referred to as “The Mayor” of the new artist studio collective Zero Empty Spaces in Palm Beach Gardens, Anthony Burks is a powerhouse on the local art scene. As one of the first of 17 artists using the space as a 24/7 private studio (as well as a part-time public gallery for his work), the lifelong Palm Beach County resident has been able to shift his professional life away from his personal space so he has even more room to grow. “I was working out of my home, with my art taking over the living room and kitchen, so when this opportunity arose I couldn’t pass it up,” he says of the 140-square-foot space he moved into last June. “Something like this doesn’t come up very often.”
Burks, who graduated from Palm Beach Gardens High School and The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, began drawing at age 3. His own mixed-media artwork ranges from abstract to realistic, with collections focusing on endangered Florida wildlife, marine animals, and African culture, among other topics. But he also uses his talents and influence to help other artists in the community, leading several efforts to bring Black artists into the spotlight. Along with his wife, fellow artist Trina Slade-Burks, he founded ATB Fine Art Group in 1992 to create, sell, and promote visual, performing, and literary art by local Black artists. Aside from hosting its annual Continuum Palm Beach Art Fair (this year’s show, typically held in January, was canceled because of COVID), ATB also helps young Black artists develop portfolios for school auditions and mentors them as they begin their art careers.
“We opened up people’s eyes to artists in the Black community who had been hiding because they didn’t think they could get noticed,” says Burks. “I want to make sure they are recognized. That’s been my vision and my goal since I became a professional artist. I don’t want to see another artist, not just Black artists but any artist, get a door slammed in their face.”
With a lot of Burks’ curated events on hold during the pandemic, he has recently been focusing on creating a series of portraits for his fellowship with the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County. When he’s not working on the series, he’s likely helping one of the other artists in the studio space and living up to his “mayor” nickname. “I’ve been blessed to be able to do my craft and do what I love every day,” he says. “I get to wake up with art, and I get to go to bed with art—and being in this studio space really helps me out because it allows me to reach out to more artists.”
Studio: Clay Space at Fish House Art Center, 4745 SE Desoto Ave., Stuart
Gail Kosowski’s personal ceramics studio and community pottery workshop is a popular place to take a spin on the potter’s wheel and purchase custom pieces of ceramic art. Named Clay Space, the waterfront studio boasts the perfect location for creativity to thrive—in both Kosowski and her students.
“I initially opened the studio in 2015 to have an outlet for my own explorations, but I’ve slowly evolved it into a shared creative space where I can ply my trade, teach and share access, and create a good experience for beginners and fellow artists,” she says. “It’s an open-air workspace, which is great for clay work, and it’s a beautiful spot on the water that invites creativity and community.”
As part of Fish House Art Center, Kosowski’s studio is one of seven artist spaces making up a larger creative marketplace that also includes an ice cream shop, a marina, and a private rental property. “This unusual space has a great variety of foot traffic with an interesting group of fellow artists, artisans, and small businesses,” says Kosowski. “It’s a very dynamic community.”
Kosowki’s one-of-a-kind pieces range from everyday tableware to more sculptural works. “I am an avid maker with an ever-developing experimental approach to both functional wares and artistic endeavors,” she says. “I’ve explored many media for as long as I can remember, but clay provides an endless field of exploration.” Her Clay Space studio has become a destination for people in search of unique pieces.
The Jupiter resident also works with nonprofit communities in Palm Beach and Martin counties, developing art and gardening programs at Title 1 schools, and has led several collaborative mosaic mural projects in the area, including one at the children’s education and resource center Building Bridges to Youth in East Stuart.
“Stuart has many artists with a great variety of approaches, and they have an engaged community to support them,” says Kosowski. “I’m always looking for healthy ways to contribute to that community.”
Studio: April W. Davis Gallery and Art Studio, 1630 U.S. Hwy. 1, Jupiter
Medium: Acrylic, oil, charcoal
When April Davis moved to Florida from New York more than 20 years ago, she thought her plein air painting days were over. In fact, quite the opposite was true: The then Boca Raton resident relished in the soft winter light and lush landscape of her new backyard. “I came kicking and screaming because I love the seasons, but as soon as I got here I just loved it,” she recalls. “I had a tropical backyard, so I started doing paintings inspired by that environment.”
Today, Davis lives on Jupiter Island with her fiancé, Steve, and continues to draw inspiration from her surroundings, including the Jupiter Lighthouse, the inlet, and the Intracoastal. Fortunately, her studio space is a short jaunt from the water she paints with precision. The April W. Davis Gallery and Studio—which she opened in 2010—houses many of her original and replicated works, along with her personal studio space and a wood workshop for Steve, who does all of the printing, canvas stretching, and frame building for Davis’ art.
“One of the best parts [of the studio] is how big it is,” she says of the 3,000-square-foot space. “It enables me to stand back from my paintings and see them from a distance, which was hard to do when I was working out of my home in a small room. “My original paintings are quite large, averaging 8 feet wide, so it’s important for me to see how they read from a distance.”
Davis’ paintings range from photorealistic to more abstract and are inspired by the natural beauty of Jupiter. She often begins a project by taking hundreds of photos of a subject to make a composition from which she can paint. “I want the viewer to feel that beauty and peace when they look at my art and to be transported to that place,” she says. “Painting in this space makes that so much easier because it is a beautiful, peaceful place to paint.”
Best known for her Gateway to Paradise series of acrylic paintings set at the U.S. 1 bridge overlooking the lighthouse and inlet, she has recently enjoyed working on her Sunrise/Sunset series. She adds sand to each canvas before painting it with both a brush and a palette knife to provide texture and light. “I love painting water, sunrises, and sunsets,” says the artist. “It just puts me in that space; it’s like being there.”
Photography by Jason Nuttle