There is art everywhere. Some paintings hang on the walls, while others lean against them. Some of the walls, meanwhile, are paintings.
I’ve just walked into Jeff Whipple’s and Liz Gibson’s studio. They sleep here too—not like fall asleep in the studio kind of sleep, but rather the studio is their home. Whipple and Gibson have figured out how to nuzzle their lives in and amongst their work. In fact, it’s more like the work lives in the cavernous warehouse and Gibson and Whipple are extended guests who get to use the kitchen.
The renowned pair moved into the space back in 2012 after relocating to Jacksonville from Tallahassee. Whipple has lived in warehouses before in other cities, but this is the longest he’s lived in any one place for any length of time. The warehouse was built in the 1930s and served as a cabinet shop for most of that time. In fact, the pair still finds inches deep piles of sawdust in random corners of the place. The studio home is a work space, living space, and gallery simultaneously.
While some might feel that living at the office can make it hard to disconnect from work, rolling out of bed with paintbrush or pen in hand—as is evidenced by the duo’s production—can make for prolific output.
The understated Whipple shared some of his thoughts on the space.
How do you classify your living space? Is this a warehouse? A studio? Your home?
This is a working studio first and then a home. We’ve tried to create some spaces upstairs that we’ve tried to isolate in order to have some time away from work. The space can be turned into anything we want in order to adjust to any type of commission we are working on. It’s good to have a lot of room in these alternative spaces.
And how are the neighbors?
Well, not a lot of neighbors around here. I’ve always lived in places like this, neighborhoods that were downtrodden and, well, affordable for artists. It can get sketchy, but at the same time, it never really bothered me. Except when the prices go up and I have to move elsewhere. I’m like the engine of gentrification (laughs). I get to bring art in an area until I can’t afford it anymore. [laughs].
How does the housework get done around here? Who sweeps and does the laundry when there is so much going on?
[Laughs] There are different schedules depending on who is working on what. Sometimes one or both of us will be working on 24-hour cycles and so some duties may fall by the wayside.
Ever wanted a so-called conventional home?
I’ve never had nor wanted a conventional home, by any means. As long as there is space to work and live, that will be fine for me. Here we can build walls or take down walls as we need for whatever Liz and I are working on.