NOMA Gallery changes hands

Artist Mel Fiorentino has acquired the arts hub from founder Lisa Irwin.

Lisa Irwin, left, and Mel Fiorentino, toast to the transition of NOMA Gallery. [Photo by Ralph Demilio]

Home » Arts & Entertainment
Posted March 13, 2024 | By Susan Smiley-Height,

In the ever-changing and vibrant landscape of the arts scene in Ocala and Marion County, a new development will expand opportunities for local artists and arts lovers alike.

Noted artist and art teacher Mel Fiorentino has acquired the NOMA Gallery from its founder, Lisa Irwin. The transition was effective March 1.

The gallery was born during the pandemic as ArtCastle and was based in the historic former Coca-Cola bottling plant at the corner of Magnolia Avenue and Bonnie Heath Blvd. (Highway 27/14th Street).

“Originally conceived during the pandemic as ArtCastle, a place that became a safe haven for artists and art lovers alike, the gallery soon evolved into NOMA Gallery under the guidance of Mel Fiorentino and Lisa Irwin, along with their dedicated colleagues. Since its inception, NOMA Gallery has become a cherished hub for artistic expression and community engagement,” noted the news release announcing the transition.

NOMA Gallery will now have an online platform under Fiorentino, who will continue to teach both in person and online.

“I am a teacher and artist and continue to teach classes online and in person at Fiorentino Atelier, my home studio, and soon through the Marion Cultural Alliance,” she said in a text message.

As for the online gallery, she said she is “working on carefully curating a roster of artists that consist of local talent and artists abroad for the website, which is set to release in a month from now.”

“I’m excited about this new chapter,” Fiorentino added.

The news release noted that Fiorentino “also plans to host pop-up shows in the community, bringing art directly to the people. Former colleagues of Fiorentino and Irwin will join forces to assist with these community events, ensuring that NOMA Gallery remains deeply rooted in the local art scene.”

“I’m thrilled to take on this new role and continue the legacy of NOMA Gallery,” Fiorentino stated in the release. “Art has always been a source of joy and connection, and I’m committed to making it accessible to everyone in our community.”

Irwin remains involved with Arts in Health Ocala Metro, which began as an initiative of the LILAC (Lisa Irwin Legacy for Arts & Culture) Foundation in partnership with the University of Florida Arts in Medicine Program. The nonprofit connects art and healing through music, dance, performing and visual arts.

“Personally, I will be focusing on Arts in Health and building my LILAC Foundation to serve Arts in Health, girls and women’s empowerment and serving traditionally underserved individuals and communities,” Irwin noted in a text message. “This is an exciting move for me because I get to see Mel shine as a gallerist, continuing and growing NOMA, while I get to serve my own heart through philanthropic endeavors.”

NOMA Records, an independent record label and music publishing house, will remain in operation at the historic building at 939 N. Magnolia Ave., Ocala.

To learn more about NOMA Gallery, visit or email

The former Coca-Cola Bottling Plant on North Magnolia Avenue has most recently been the home of NOMA Gallery and NOMA Records. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

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