The art scene in Northeast Florida is growing. From new local galleries popping up around the area, new artists showing their work at markets and exhibits to art on the very buildings and streets of our towns — the artistic progression in our community is something to be excited for. 

With the growth of art comes subjectivity. Artists create what they want to create, and with that comes the subjectiveness of the aesthetic, medium and whatever else pertains to the artwork. Local artists don’t always use their direct community as an inspiration, but it’s still important to value their work and how it diversifies the place around us. Art in the community is crucial, as it inspires and educates people on a deep level. It improves analyzation and demands a better sense of awareness of diversity. With art being a tool for education is growth, how do we view the artists behind those works? They are the teachers and the makers, and we as a community should view and support them as such.

Even though the catalysts for art (in addition to art itself) are important, sometimes the mistake is made of removing the person from the work. This is mostly an issue with smaller artists whose name isn’t quite known yet. When the name is an indicator of value, that’s where fantastic artists who may not have the best connections lose out on opportunities. Local artists whose work is as thought-provoking and awe-striking as Vincent Van Gogh’s won’t get the recognition they need because their name isn’t Vincent Van Gogh. 

To the academic art world, the artist is a brand and most of the time the value of art is based on who created it. This completely dismisses the subject of the art itself, and uses a superficial tool to assign a monetary value to an artwork. The term “starving artist” is very real in this case, because if you don’t have the right connections or the right name, then you can be stuck in a whirlwind of struggle. Obviously, art is more than money. It is a tool for self expression and expansion of one’s own perspective. Still, art is a way of life for people in our community. It is their profession, they spend hours and hours creating works that inspire. It’s sometimes difficult for local artists to get by, but we as a community can help.

So how do we fix this issue? Give them credit on social media, a tool that is easily used and abused for reposting one’s artwork without the proper credit. Go to local exhibits or gallery openings, attend art walks, meet the artists, know their names, support their work and leave any predispositions of what you think “art” is behind. Appreciate the artists in our community that interpret the culture and ideas of the world around them.

And with that, here are some great artists in the Bold City you should keep your eye on: 

Rebecca Rodriguez

Lists, charts, maps, and graphs have become a way for me to speak. I portray connection and dislocation of physical and mental states in my work through repetitive mark-making and layered environments, oftentimes using Jacksonville maps and construction sites as reference material. Currently, I’m earning a degree in Fine Art at the University of North Florida with a concentration in Painting, Drawing, and Printmaking where I am continuing research in physiological symptomatic stress relating to food and consumption through artist mapping.” — Rebecca Rodriguez 

“Ingest”

  • Silk monotype
  • 19×24”
  • April 2017

For more of Rebecca’s work, check out her website.

Jessica Becker

“Jessica Becker is a self-taught Artist from Atlantic Beach. Ever since she was 5 years old, she knew that she wanted to be an artist. After her half semester of Art in high school, she would use the minimal tools she learned and practiced daily to achieve her goal of making a living as an Artist. She would eventually create her own style of painting with a one of kind 3D mixed media technique on canvas, which gives her paintings a realistic effect. She also paints murals at businesses and homes all around Florida, most notably TacoLu, Carribbean Connection, The Disgracie Mansion in Destin, FL and SHOTS in Miami. Jessica is very honored to have been voted #1 artist in Void Magazine in 2013, 2016 and 2017”

For more of Jessica’s work, visit her website.

Layla So

“‘I’m a queer, Cambodian-American artist in Jacksonville. My body of work is an ongoing self exploration. I study painting, drawing, and printmaking at the University of North Florida. Jacksonville is home to a strong community of brilliant, emerging artists and I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to grow and learn with them.”

For more of Layla’s work, visit her website.