According to the brochure it’s “where culture converges with community. ” Fifty some odd shops and studios are combined in this
small park located next to the railroad tracks off Gaines street.
This all started with Nan Boynton, and continued by her and her family to encourage established and emerging artists and business owners and provide Tallahassee with a poplar cultural center to visit and meet people.
The diversity of the shops and studios, well it would take awhile to write about. From custom built furniture and repair of antiques, rock climbing, bicycle projects, meditation, yoga, Wing Chun. Then there is the clothing, music, music instrument repair and building, a Tallahassee Buddhist
Community, Comic book store, herbal both medicinal and culinary, well the list goes on. There is a railroad caboose cafe “the Star Seas Cafe”. Jason Cuspell, the manager there, very helpful and informative, talked about changing hours in February, bands on friday, open mike on thursday. With an addition of a large patio soon the hope is the business will prosper. There is a new organic co-op in the park called Bread and Roses, started by a few people and expanding. With 120 something members it is an all volunteer store with fresh local vegetables on Fridays. Then there are the art studios, the Art in the Park.
The studios are diverse also, just a statement taken from the Railroad Square brochure for The French Studio, Francoise Baudoin d’Ajoux states: My paintings are a celebration of life in all of its expressions and of painting itself as a reality. Each work is a process of metaphors, reflecting personal experiences and suggesting man’s condition using color to support or explode thoughts and feelings. Then you have Yrabedra Studio, Ron Yrabedra, a Professor Emeritus of Art Education from Florida A&M University, he has been in the park since 1981.
Arriving early, before 11: 00 am, thats when most things get moving here. There were several interesting people out and about. An artist out doing yoga and the park ranger or the man that does everything guy Ken Bernard, talking with Mr. Bernard the Park is slow most of the day the shops and studios are open Wednesday through Sunday there are a few by appointment only shops here. But on First Friday, thats the first friday of every month you can see between 3,000 and another estimate of 5,000 people shopping and wondering through the park. There is a new Second Sunday at the Square that promotes special themes and activities for the family.
The big event is the 621 gallery located in the park across from the cafe. The 621 gallery has been around for 30 years, its a very important gallery to the area and the north east florida because of the art it displays. The 621 gallery displays alternative and progressive art, diverse art from handicapped people to childern, types of art most galleries do not. Minna Pollari one of the co directors of 621, talked about other shows that happened during the regular 621 shcedule. But that is the Railroad Square, its a community of artists doing there art, not driven to sell their work. These artists are living their dreams and you can purchase some of them.
Concerns about the new Arts Exchange going up soon next door. Some people stated we wish them well they are artists also. But concerns about the cost to live and work there suggests that those artists will be driven to sell rather that live their art. But time will tell, as the Railroad Square has been around 30 years selling art and living a communal existence. Maybe also the Art Exchange can evolve.
Shops & Studios of Railroad Square Art Park, Inc., is the nonprofit organization whose purpose is to promote the locally owned shops and art studios of Railroad Square and to enhance arts and culture in Tallahassee.