Below is an excerpt from an article in the Sarasota Herald Tribune about a studio I once shared with other young artists. This was where I was during the speculator boom of the 90's in comics. I did lots of painting and learning from my fellow artists. That studio is long since gone and they recently demolished the building which sat across the street from the art school.
The Dude Ranch
In the mid-1980s, the building at 2721 Tamiami Trail was a pawn shop and adult video store when seven Ringling College students moved in upstairs.
They called it The Dude Ranch, and it was part dorm room, part art studio -- a party spot that attracted crowds of hundreds.
"They were chaotic and expressive," said Jill Hoffman-Kowal, education director at the Art Center Sarasota. At the time, Hoffman-Kowal was a local artist who made a documentary about the studio as she tried to land grant money through a state arts program.
The seven roommates living upstairs were young, ambitious and unorthodox. They would spray paint old trucks and Volkswagen vans -- "moving art," they called it -- and exhibit them in front of the building.
They held parties every month, drank a lot of beer and talked a lot of art. Every once in a while, someone bought a painting.
The art shows had names like "Fourteen Legs" and "Beat a Dead Horse." It was the beginning of successful art careers for a few Ringling graduates.
Rafael Kayanan went on to illustrate comic books, including a Spider-Man cover. His roommate, painter Christopher Skura, now has a studio in New York City.
When the students moved on, The Dude Ranch died.
"Things started changing," recalled Mitchell, who taught at Ringling College for 39 years before moving to Chattanooga, Tenn. "It lost the charm of what was once there."
The whole article by Roger Drouin can be read here.