St. Pete is a living tapestry, and one of its newest spaces for art has become an immediate star. The Werk Art Gallery and Object Lab opened this spring at 2210 1st Avenue South in the Grand Central District, a new hub for art, gifts and more.
This weekend, The Werk debuts one of its most exciting exhibitions yet, showcasing the works of the late Jack Ellis. The celebrated artist was a Tampa Bay Area favorite, reaching celebrity status in the art world as he won hundreds of awards throughout his decades of painting large scale pieces. Ellis gained early notoriety at St. Pete’s Mainsail Art Festival, and his regard grew exponentially from there, with his works on display the world over.
With the help of his wife Judy Ellis, The Werk is hosting a two-month show – The Work of Jack Ellis – featuring his creations, many of which haven’t been seen for years. The opening reception is this Friday night, August 4, at The Werk Gallery from 5-9 pm. Not only is it an opportunity to see rare paintings by a beloved local artist, but it’s an excellent excuse to visit The Werk if you haven’t been yet.
The Werk Art Gallery & Object Lab is a hotspot for all things beautiful
The reimagined space is home to two complementary concepts, both of which showcase local artists and their incredible work. As you enter, The Werk Art Gallery is home to a curated list of rotating exhibits featuring an amazing array of local artists. As you walk through the gallery, the space opens up into The Object Lab, a one-of-a-kind art and gift store offering a deep selection of beautiful pieces, from greeting cards, oil paintings and jewelry, to antique pottery, altered vintage clothing and even a sticker bar.
Between it all, The Werk has become a hotspot in St. Pete for all things art and antiques. The gallery has played host to a tremendous lineup of exhibitions, and just last week they debuted “Queerness,” a Pride-themed celebration on display through the end of August. And of course, it’s not just the art that brings people in. The opening reception for Queerness featured a pop-up fashion show alongside several artists, designers, and jewelers all set up to showcase and discuss their creations.
The Werk’s next exhibition will showcase the late Jack Ellis, a local artist whose prolific work in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s earned great acclaim. The Werk has collaborated Ellis’s family to display many of his pieces that haven’t been seen publicly in years. Following the Ellis show in August and September will be a surrealist gallery in October and November.
The Object Lab is St. Pete’s next great home décor and gift shop
However, while the gallery space is what draws many people in for the first time (we certainly recommend stopping by as part of the Second Saturday Art Walk), it’s The Object Lab that can make you lose hours to browsing. Whether admiring artwork, sniffing candles, or trying on hand-painted tees, the shop is packed full of delights for any taste or inclination.
You can find vintage scarves and signed ephemera on the same wall as luxury handbags and altered vintage jackets created by Spenny Lane. You’ll find pottery dating back 800 years to the Ming Dynasty on a shelf next to pottery only a few weeks old created by a local artist.
In the same place, you can get a quirky $4 sticker or a funny gift card, or spring for high end art pieces or jewelry. The job they have done stocking The Object Lab is outstanding, making it feel like you’re walking around a colorful combination of a museum, gift shop, and arts and crafts store.
Follow The Werk on Instagram and Facebook to learn more and get updates on their upcoming events and exhibitions. The Werk Gallery and The Object Lab are open 12-5 pm Thursday-Sunday, plus special exhibition nights, at 2210 1st Avenue South.