But he and Val saw the potential it offered and
bought a fixer-upper that would later be home to
Valerie’s former art studio where she conceptualized
local art group Edge, a thriving record business,
and nest to their first-born child. “It didn’t take long
before more people moved in and fixed up some
of the abandoned and dilapidated places and our
street really became the center of the VOA pretty
quick,” Holland said.
“I love raising a kid here,” he added. “Our
neighborhood is tight knit and we watch out for
Though things have changed since Covid hit last
year. Jerk Dog Records no longer hosts live music
during Art Walks, and they must limit the store
capacity to only three people at once. Holland even
had to cancel his notorious Record Store Day, the
busiest national event for vinyl shops everywhere.
Having survived over 20 years now, through
multiple hurricanes, economic recession, and now a
pandemic, the Village of the Arts is a leading example
of what happens when creativity and ingenuity
merge over zoning meetings and master plans.
Without the unlimited imagination and stubborn
determination of artists and rebels, neighborhoods
don’t get planned or survive like this one.
In addition to the Covid pandemic, the Village
soon faces another potential threat, and how the
community is able to navigate it will determine its
future. A development of high-rise apartments is
slated to be built along 14th Street in the next year,
which poses a serious influx of traffic and people
that the small Village is not equipped to serve.
Gene Tenery has lived in the Village for 10 years now,
witnessing much of the neighborhood’s ebbs and
flow. His interest in relocating to the Village was
sparked by the opportunity to run his knife and tool
sharpening business from his home and later an
art studio, where he currently resides. Although he
has permanently closed his business due to Covid
and new interests, he is troubled by the proximity of
high-density apartments to the Village.
“I believe the Village is not the ‘destination’ that
many people want to believe it is but a community
of neighbors, with some that are very creative,”
Tenery said, adding that the big changes coming
from the development may negatively affect the
area he calls home.
At Loc Alchemy, Kris Cross feels hopeful that the
strength of the VOTA residents will prevail. “We
are not exempt from the realities of recent health
concerns and life here has changed as it has for
all small businesses.” But, she says that Village
residents come together in times of need and they
have found new ways of expressing their art as they
adapt to a changing business climate.
“We find ways to make statements with new
boundaries,” she said. “When one of the community
is facing a challenge, everyone does their best
to help.” She added that it’s not unusual to find
neighbors distributing food from local food banks
and delivering home cooked meals.
“It’s a VOTA custom to barter for goods and services
and to share freely with each other,” Cross said.
“This is the approach that has kept us reaching out
through art, music and food and translating our
actions into loving connections.”
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