A Fresh Perspective
Florida architect Anthony Abbate brings order to an artist's work space in Fort Lauderdale
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 8/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
In 1995, artist Francie Bishop Good and her husband completed a freestanding concrete painting studio in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The 2,000-square-foot high-ceilinged building seemed more than adequate at the time. Since then, however, Good has embraced digital photography and video, necessitating a raft of computer equipment—and additional elbow room. She was already starting to feel the squeeze when preparation for a solo exhibition at the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, finally pushed her over the edge. "I had to produce 50 pieces in 12 months. Storage and organization became major issues."
Good asked architect Anthony Abbate to help. "Francie's work has always interested me, particularly her attempt to reconcile opposites: abstraction and representation, painting and photography," he says. Many of Good's pieces, which explore the interactions of people and their environments, juxtapose models with evocative imagery. "She wants to have it all, in her work and her life," Abbate continues. "When I first walked into her studio, it was chaos. She produced, displayed, and stored art there. That's an intense program for one room."
Abbate says he embraced a strategy of poetic reduction: "I tried to see how little I could add, how much I could take away. The restrained look belies the fullness that an artist's studio implies." Rather than establish a special place for everything, he took a more multipurpose approach, preserving an essentially open plan and adding a mezzanine. Customized from a standard system of steel grating, painted green and up-lit for a "floating, ephemeral effect," the mezzanine is set up as a reading nook complete with a vintage Le Corbusier chaise longue, stacks of art magazines, and room for flat files. Underneath, Good's artwork is stashed in vertical racks, and rolling canvas screens mounted to tension wire divide the interior as needed for a variety of uses, from art studio to exhibition gallery to party pad.