Anime Art Museum opens on 13th Street
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 5:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 5:30 p.m.
When Carmen “CJ” Marrero-Akin was 6, she drew cartoons to distract her from a move from New York to Vero Beach. She would record the Japanese show “Sailor Moon,” pause it and trace the picture on the TV onto a sheet of paper.
Now, Marrero-Akin, 23, has started a museum in Gainesville dedicated to anime art.
The Anime Art Museum at 1155 NW 13th St. will showcase work from artists all over the world, including from the local community, she said.
While other U.S. museums have hosted anime exhibitions, she said the museum is the only one dedicated solely to the Japanese cartoon style in the U.S.
“I had always been wanting to do something with anime art that brought the anime experience that’s in Japan to America — to create an environment where anime artists can be nurtured and network with one another,” she said.
Not many resources exist for anime artists to further develop skills and pursue a vocation in the genre, Marrero-Akin said, so many become discouraged and drop their affiliation with anime.
“Growing up, I couldn’t find any anime art classes,” she said. “The only community I had was online.”
To bridge this gap, Marrero-Akin will be teaching anime drawing classes at the museum to artists of all levels.
Now on display are a series of art projects created by Marrero-Akin. Her drawings take a journalistic approach to what she experienced on a study abroad trip to Japan, displaying the traditional yet modernized aspects of Japanese culture.
The museum is a branch of the nonprofit organization S.A.F.E.ID4Families, founded by Marrero-Akin’s father. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Florida donated the space for the museum in its building, and the North Central Florida YMCA donated materials to set up the museum.
“My parents always taught me, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,’ ” she said.
The Anime Art Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is free. For more information and to schedule classes, visit safeid4families.org/np/animeartmuseum.