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Monday, June 24, 2024

The walls, ceiling and floor are painted a psychedelic mural, acoustic instruments strum, dancers fluidly move to the beat, friends laugh and art thrives. The masterpiece is complete.

In a few days, everyone will have cleared out, and everything will be painted white. A clean slate. Intricate details, memories, smiles and mistakes will be erased — hidden under a layer of latex paint, further burying the murals and memories that have come before it.

After being open for a year, The Church of Holy Colors art gallery has given a new meaning to independent art and has created a unique way of both displaying and creating art. It is not actually a church, but it is also an art gallery. And, for some, it is a place of worship that offers a chance to reflect spirituality through  inter-connectivity to art and color.

“It’s a place for creation. Our objective is to make art as much and as freely as possible,” said Joey Fillastre, co-founder and artist at Holy Colors.

The gallery takes an innovative approach to art by maintaining a non-materialistic, experimental outlook, which is evident in the lifestyle and works of the artists.

“If we make money off of our art, it just goes back into the gallery to buy more supplies and to keep creating,” Fillastre said.

Artists Evan Galbicka, Joey Fillastre and Felici Asteinza founded the gallery a year ago and have repeated the process of covering the gallery in murals seven times. Along with murals, they incorporate oil paintings, sculptures and collages. Multiple works are combined and placed strategically to create a collection of art, which is termed an installment.

Although they do not belong to any particular religion, the art is like a religious experience for them. Creating, connecting with others, digesting society and transforming feelings into art all contribute to what drives them.

Galbicka, Fillastre and Asteinza have shown their work at art shows in Gainesville, Tampa and Tallahassee. They also have had their art on display at local restaurants and bars such as Alcove and The 8th Ave Coffee and Bike House. Local companies also commission them to create art for their establishments. They are currently commissioned by The Top, a downtown restaurant, to design gift cards and also are painting a mural in a downtown salon, The Faun Salon.

All three are trained artists. Galbicka graduated from UF, concentrating on sculpture. Fillastre graduated from Florida State University, concentrating on painting and Asteinza is currently an art graduate student at the University of South Florida.

Their philosophy on creating art is unique and is what sets them apart from other galleries. They see people’s obsession with money, TV, pop culture and corporate America as detrimental.

      “We want the art to exist in a deep context, outside of consumer culture,” Galbicka said.

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    The artists’ work can sometimes be politically charged, reflecting the frustrations of society.

We take the force of the human spirit and use it against the idea of sedimentary popular culture,” Fillastre said. “We take things such as pop culture, our personal gloom, everyday stresses and we make art. It helps you cope with things. It’s an outlet.”

    Upon the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, they felt the blow and channeled it into a massive installment, which included a complete mural covering the art gallery, oil paintings, collages and sculptures, all symbolically grieving the loss of aquatic life.

    Fillastre and Galbicka are influenced by the outdoors, especially the Florida landscape they have come to know and love.

    “We are inevitably Florida artists,” Fillastre said.

    “Being from Florida — in the outdoors and on the beach, we are intuitively drawn to bright, tropical colors,” Galbicka said. “The art you produce is relevant to where you live and what you see.”

Their unique approach to art also involves group collaboration, a process where other artists and friends come together to create an installment.  The artists said you can get a sense of what the gallery is all about through the concept of the installations.

     “It’s about sacrificing your personal identity for the group experience,” Galbicka said. “We stick to what we’re good at and we bring it all together and collaborate.”

 The artists said that the experience of creating the group installments, not the final product, is the art.

“The installations are only precious to the point of completion,” Fillastre said.

After a short time, they take down pieces, give them to friends and paint over the murals with white, erasing any evidence of its existence.

“In history, art holds a traditional theme of permanence and immortality,” Galbicka said. “We’re doing the opposite — once the experience is over, the art is no longer precious. The energy changes and it becomes a memory.”

    The artists have a non-materialistic outlook on the art. They said they will sell it if people inquire but that is not the reason they create.

    “ We don’t make art for the money. That’s not why it is created,” Fillastre said. “Money is just a symptom of something good. It just sometimes happens.”

    “If you make art just for the purpose of selling it, you are no different than the large corporations,” Galbicka said.

    The gallery has also provided a space for music. Local artists and friends of the gallery have performed shows amongst the creations. Fillastre and Galbicka said music is an integral part of how they create art.

    “The musicians get inspired through our art — it’s a catalyst. And we get inspired through their music,” Fillastre said.

    With a  living-in-the-now approach, the future goals of the gallery are to maintain a peaceful existence.

     “Our only plan is to keep creating,” Fillastre said.

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