It looks as if the Clay Glass Metal Stone Gallery on 15 S. J St. may be closing.
The gallery’s 3,685-square-foot studio at 216 S. F St., open to artists of all ages to come and create, is up for sale, according to Joyce Brown, curator and president of Flamingo Clay Studio, a nonprofit artist cooperative that operates the gallery.
“We knew it was going up for sale the entire five years we’ve been here,” Brown said. “But they made it official last month when our five-year lease was up. I like our landlady so much … but she’s not a rich person.”
The studio is open to all artists, teens and children who want to work in clay and/or fused glass. It’s open 24/7 for ceramic and glass artists to work. Young women in recovery started creating products at the studio to earn a living for themselves. Brown helped to create what she says is the first 3-D cooperative art gallery in the region.
“We have had families purchase houses in Lake Worth because we are here,” Brown said.
Donna Christy, the site’s owner, said she’s asking $419,500 for the site. “I’ve been wanting to sell for a long time,” she said. “I know what the building is worth. I feel bad about it, but I have to do what I have to do.”
For the past five years, Brown has been looking for a wealthy investor who loves the arts and would buy the building for the naming rights and donate it to the nonprofit. “But I haven’t been able to find anyone to do that,” she said.
One year, Brown said, when she thought the building was on the market for $250,000, she was looking for five people to donate $10,000 each, but that never happened. “I’ve been spinning in circles… just doing what I can, and I can’t find anybody,” she said.
Christy has been in Brown’s corner. “I’ve been more than fair with allowing her to try to raise the money,” she said. “I would love to see her get it.”
Brown said she’s paying $2,200 in monthly rent for the studio. “We hope whoever buys it won’t quintuple our rent because we’re at our limit on what we’re paying here,” she said. “None of us are paid, and we’re all volunteers. We just want to make art and give art to kids.”
Florida has cut back drastically on funding for all arts organizations, Brown said. “There is absolutely no funding for capital for buying and fixing buildings,” she said.
Brown said if the South J Street gallery closes, it’s bad news for Lake Worth. “There are so many artists with no other options,” she said. “I have no other options. I will stop making art if I don’t have this place. There’s no other place like us that people can come to.”