Giandra Shepard inside of Studio Zsa Zsa Lapree
Giandra Shepard is the owner of Studio Zsa Zsa Lapree located in downtown Jacksonville. With the mission of acceptance and advocacy for black artists, the vibrant colored Studio Zsa Zsa Lapree hosts monthly shows featuring new artists and other creative experiences. Giandra strives for her venue to serve the community and to be a place for artists who may feel overlooked to introduce their art to the community. In the heart of downtown, Giandra has turned her little corner of Bay Street into a lively environment to celebrate black artistry.
I'm always in awe of black women representing the arts through curating, advocacy, and creating spaces. Though the art market has grown to be more inclusive, it still lacks the representation of curators and gallery owners of color. To meet a peer building a platform with similar interests is exciting and I look forward to seeing her gallery grow and talents mature.
Zsa Zsa Lapree will host two art events in October that are open to the public. "Painting with Ki" is a 90s style painting class that will take place on October 6th under the instruction of Kiandra Jones and "PUSHA Kings Road Edition" , an art show that will take place on October 27th put on by Ashley Dickerson. (Flyers attached )
When did you know you wanted to open a gallery and why?
In 2009, I knew I wanted my own business but I wasn't sure what type of business I should start. In 2014 I saw the space that now houses Zsa Zsa Lapree and knew I had to have it. Several ideas came to mind like a boutique, a bakery, and other businesses many things I love. Like an epiphany, in 2016, it just came to me that I should create a space to support and celebrate black artists so I decided I would have an art gallery. I had always been an art lover and collector. Guest would often come to my apartment and try to purchase the art from my walls. There were times I would post a selfie on social media and later receive an inbox about the art work that was noticeable in the back of the picture. So I decided I would give an Art Gallery a try. I called the landlord and told him my idea and received the keys to the building the next week.
What Inspired the name for your gallery?
The name Studio Zsa Zsa Lapree was inspired by an African child I met in 2010 whose first name and last name were both Zsa. I immediately fell in love with Zsa Zsa's name and said when I have a daughter that I would name her Zsa Zsa. Unfortunately, I later lost a child so the gallery's name was inspired by love and fear. Through a love for the name and a fear that Zsa Zsa may never exist, I decided to create her in a different way. I believe naming the gallery in this way was my own form of artistic expression. A lot of people think that the name was inspired from Zsa Zsa Gabor and although I like Gabor that is not the case. The name Zsa Zsa is actually very sentimental to me.
What do you believe is a role of an artist and what roles can we learned from them
All artists of all mediums are different. Their roles are subjective and highly personal. I believe that an artist's role is whatever they want it to be. We can learn from them the thoughts and feelings that we can't effectively articulate but you receive through the Artist creations, poetry, music , dance etc.
What has been your biggest challenge in this role and what have you learned ?
My biggest challenge is that sometimes I'm so low on energy that I can not curate all the shows that I have ideas for. I learned that Zsa Zsa Lapree was greatly needed in our community because there are so many dope black creators in the community that I feel have been ignored by other art galleries and artists.
How do you choose Artist for your shows
Every time I have an art show, I receive a lot of messages from new and emerging artists that want to become apart of the art community. Often, my shows are filled and I have to turn artists down. I always feel bad when I can't accommodate an artist so I create another show for those few artists. I don't really choose artist for my shows, they choose me.
What are your ambitious for the future of Zsa Zsa Lapree.
In the future I would like to put a Studio Zsa Zsa Lapree on the Northside of Jacksonville and make it an art gallery and book store.
If you could move Zsa Zsa Lapree anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If I could move Studio Zsa Zsa Lapree anywhere in the world, it would be a big city like San Francisco or New York. I think it would definitely be New York!