A burgeoning art movement in Ocala is attracting attention from far beyond Marion County. Born out of a conversation between artists EJ Nieves and Teddy Sykes, which led to the Neon Dreams project, which morphed into the Neon Truck and the Neon House initiatives, Art House Ocala is an innovative collaborative art movement in which downtown buildings temporarily serve as art spaces.
Art House Ocala 1.0 was based in a 100-year-old Victorian-inspired home located in one of Ocala’s historic districts and owned by Lisa Midgett. She planned to renovate the house, but offered it up for the artists first to create works inside the home.
“I told EJ, ‘You can paint on these walls,’” she recalls. “They’ll be painted over, so it won’t be permanent, but have fun.”
Nieves and Sykes were the first artists to paint there and then other artists began to participate, including Shapot (whose mural is pictured above).
“They painted murals, canvases, even ceilings—finding loveliness where I saw none,” Midgett offers. “The project created a feeling of fellowship and community that was palpable. They inspired me with their joy in simply being present in the moment, in that space, working in synergy. The artwork was so beautiful I almost didn’t go through with the renovation. But several artists, including Jordan, told me they were simply creating art for art’s sake.”
Now, Art House Ocala 2.0 is the scene for fresh creativeness in a former downtown automotive dealership building that also is owned by Midgett.