Chuck Sapp: Spirit of Gainesville nominee

Chuck Sapp

Published: Monday, August 13, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 13, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.

I wish to nominate Charles M. (Chuck) Sapp for the second annual Spirit of Gainesville Award in the Arts category. Chuck, a lifelong resident of Gainesville, became an active supporter of the arts due to his interest in handcrafted, functional, and decorative objects. In 1992 with the assistance of Pat Hunter, Chuck established the High Springs Gallery of American craft.


Category: Arts

About Chuck Sapp

Occupation: Art Gallery Owner

Years in Gainesville: Entire Life

Spouse: Emily Pugh

Children: Two

For over twenty years the High Springs Gallery was an anchor business taking an active part in the revitalization of downtown High Springs. The focus of the gallery was to showcase Gainesville, regional, and national artists with an emphasis on new talent in the American craft movement. Many young local artists came to rely on Chuck's expertise in how to market, price, and promote their work as they built their careers under his mentorship. Patrons came to rely on his knowledge to inform and help them develop their appreciation of various forms of art. Chuck spent untold hours sharing his love for the craft, teaching individuals and groups about how artists use specific techniques and skills for self-expression. The High Springs Gallery grew from five initial artists to over 700, most of whom continue to show work through either the High Springs Co-operative Gallery or Paddiwhack.

Knowing that a concentration of art venues was good for the local artists and the area, in 2005 Chuck helped another local entrepreneur establish a competing gallery. It was through this endeavor that Paddiwhack was born and eventually moved to Gainesville. Committed to the concept of handmade in America, Chuck gained full ownership of the gallery and has expanded it to over 7ooo square feet. A premier American Craft Gallery, today Paddiwhack is a Niche Preferred Gallery and a member of the Retailers of American Craft and Gainesville Buy Local.

Chuck says that being an artist is a noble calling; more than a career, it is a way of life. To help enhance opportunities for artists in Gainesville, Chuck has been an active member of the boards of the Arts Association of Alachua County and the Gainesville Fine Arts Association, serving the past two years as President of the latter. Because of his unique position, he became the person responsible for bridging the two groups to collaborate on the establishment of Gainesville's Doris Bardon Community Cultural Center (The Doris). Upon its opening, Chuck accepted the position of interim Director of The Doris for its the eight month startup phase.

The Doris Bardon Community Cultural Center is now established in the Gainesville community, and Chuck would be the very first to herald that it is the culmination of the efforts of many devoted individuals. But Chuck was the driving force. For four years prior to inception, he worked tirelessly to create a consciousness that built and maintained the momentum that propelled this community project to fruition. He played a critical role in locating, negotiating, and acquiring the Main Street location. Then literally, tools and brushes in hand, he unselfishly worked days, evenings, and weekends to spearhead the renovation and clean-up so that the facility was prepared for the grand opening. As a further example of his dedication, in time for the opening Chuck personally drove to the East Coast to pick up and deliver a donated printing press that weighed hundreds of pounds, wrestling it onto and off the trailer with make-shift moving equipment. During the startup of The Doris, one could find Chuck at the facility daily, putting it before his own business. Today The Doris offers the Gainesville community a unique museum-quality gallery space, print-making and clay studios, classrooms, and an artist-in-residency program. The visual and performing arts have found a welcoming home for students, novice and seasoned artists, and all members of the Gainesville community to explore, share, and take joy in the experience of the arts.

It is a well-supported fact that the arts improve the economy as well as the quality of life in a community, and artists need community venues to show their work, providing them the opportunity to make a living. As people are educated about the craftsmanship involved in handmade products, the value of handmade in America is realized. Throughout his association with the arts, Chuck has mentored artists and fellow gallery entrepreneurs. Through the establishment of the High Springs Co-operative, his own gallery Paddiwhack, and The Linda Blondheim Loft Gallery, Chuck has provided artists multiple opportunities to show their work, hone their skills, and network with other artists. And now Chuck has shared his passion further through his significant contribution to the creation and continued growth of Gainesville's community treasure, known fondly as The Doris. The vision of the late Doris Bardon has become reality.

Submitted by Art Gallery Owner

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