Artist’s studio in a co-working space adds creativity
E.J. Nieves poses with his artwork, “I am Grateful For You,” in his art studio named N.E.H.S. Studios at Workspace Collective on Southeast First Avenue in Ocala, Fla. on Friday, August 6, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.
Editor’s note: E.J. Neives’ gallery is located at Neighborhood Workplace at 1521 NE Eighth Ave. A previous version of this story stated otherwise.
E.J. Nieves says his motto is “Build bridges, not kingdoms.” He’s set out to use his art studio at Workspace Collective on Southeast First Avenue not just to create new works, but to help connect the art community with the business sector.
The artist, who painted the “Paddock’s Valkyrie” mural at Paddock Mall this spring, has shifted from smaller canvases to bigger formats during the two years since he relocated to Ocala from Orlando.
“I’ve really started to understand the power of a mural and what it can bring a business, what it can bring a community,” he explained, “to have something larger than life that people are able to interact with even when you’re not there.”
Not long after Nieves opened his N.E.H.S. Gallery, which stands for “No Eye Has Seen,” last summer in a Neighborhood Workplace space at 1521 NE Eighth Ave., he met Zachary Cox, co-owner of Workspace Collective.
“It was like a spark,” he remembered. “He believed in my work in a season when not a lot of people did. And he gave me a chance. He introduced me to Adam and then I met their wives – the Workspace team. Their idea for Workspace, I really fell in love with it.”
The idea they came up with, draws the attention of everyone who tours Workspace Collective’s second location next to CrossFit Iron Legion. Nestled between office suites, next to the podcast studio and adjacent to the coworking desks, is Nieves’ art studio.
“We made this really cool plan,” he said. “We were just kind of playing around with a thought of a studio, a ‘dirty’ space, being smack dab in the middle of a ‘clean’ space. It was something way different. My clothes are completely covered in paint most of the time and I’m there painting; the walls are covered in paint. But in any other office everything’s very clean and pristine.”
The studio, Nieves said, together with the “Octopoda” mural he painted just inside the front door, forms a “really cool sandwich of creativity with business.”
Artists can learn a lot from businesses, and businesses can learn a lot from artists, Nieves said.
“I have always been somebody who wants to connect art with business. That’s something I feel is important. I think it’s a very synergistic relationship that can happen when business owners, businesswomen, businessmen and artists get together in the same room at the same table and talk about ideas, talk about structure and organization and creativity. There’s so many different ways to collaborate.”