Negative Space celebrates a new, larger arts oasis with its Saturday grand opening

Artists’ shows, open mic nights, jam sessions, and sketch nights: for the past six years, Negative Space has established itself as a non-profit creative oasis for artists, musicians, and community supporters at E. 39th Street and Superior Avenue in AsiaTown.

On Saturday, the studios and gallery will double down by moving into a warehouse space twice the size of its original home—which just happens to be right next door at 3820 Superior Avenue. At 4,000 square feet, the new space is­ capable of housing even more art and entertainment.
“We’re moving the whole old space into a new space,” explains Negative Space executive director and the gallery’s driving force Gadi Zamir. “We didn’t have to move far, maybe 50 feet.”
It may not have been a far move, but plans for Negative Space’s new home have been long and complex. 

In converting the warehouse to Negative Space, the first task was to declutter the space from lumber and other debris. “It was a hard thing to do,” says Zamir, adding that he and his team were able to salvage much of it. “We had to decide what to keep [and] what to throw away. But we really repurposed a lot of materials. They were materials the owner had gathered over a year.”
For instance, heavy iron gates welcome visitors upon entering. “It wasn’t junk,” Zamir declares. “It’s really beautiful.”

The laborious process has been worth it, assures Zamir. “We have a lot more display space with movable walls,” he says. "We really worked for over a year reincarnating it, knocking down walls. Now it’s almost perfect.”
A bigger space means more bandwidth to create ongoing residencies, and Negative Space will now permanently house studios for Fresh Water’s own managing photographer Bob Perkoski and Positive Vibes recording studio, run by Isaiah Jackson. There’s also room for the popular Studio 2 (a rotating artist residency) and a fourth studio. Negative Space will include two stages, a cafe, and a wet bar.
Perkoski, who has shown his work at Negative Space in the past, jumped at the chance to create a presence in the new space.

“This will be a new venture for me, as it will be my first studio and I’m still formulating how that’s going to look," Perkoski says. "I’d like to use it to shoot those in the performing arts, like dancers and entertainers and musicians, as well as some artistic photography. Also, since it’s an art gallery, I feel I can offer the service of shooting their art for print reproduction.”
Additionally, Perkoski says he looks forward to Negative Space’s expanded gallery capacity. “The gallery space will allow me to show and sell my work and possibly provide a space for other photographers to show,” he says. “There are a lot of possibilities that I’m excited to explore."
After Perkoski committed to a studio in Negative Space, he approached Zamir about having Jackson also contribute his talents.
“I knew my cousin Isaiah was looking for a space to have a recording studio,” Perkoski explains. “He had been talking with me about putting together a space where musicians could come to record, get photos, and have graphic design available. I felt this would be perfect for the space and introduced him to Gadi, who thought it was a great idea.”

Negative Space is just the latest addition in an AsiaTown building that is now almost fully occupied, with a market, coffee shop, dance studio, and restaurants. Zamir credits building owner Eric Duong with helping to create the thriving atmosphere. “He and his family were very supportive of us,” says Zamir.
The grand opening on Saturday will feature the works of local artists and musicians, a silent auction, cash bar, hors d'oeuvres, and light refreshments. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance or at the door. The event runs from 7:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at the new Negative Space (3820 Superior Ave.).

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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