Imagine Creating an Arts District: Entrepreneur Christy Frazier is full of big ideas

Illustration by Roosevelt Watson III

It’s likely you have not heard of Birdie Mae, a widowed mother of five, who owned Birdie’s Lunch, a tiny diner in Palatka, Florida. But many of you do know of Birdies, Riverside’s iconic neighborhood bar, named in her honor. Christy Frazier is Birdie Mae’s granddaughter, whose birthright is the spirit of a risk taking and hard work. Christy is a prolific self-taught artist, who learned the old fashioned way — with books. After nearly 20 years, working as an entrepreneur, renovator, multi-media artist and gallery owner, Christy recently added ‘developer’ to her list of endeavors. This mover and shaker’s latest project is focused on sparking a passion for the arts within an ever-evolving creative corridor in Springfield known as the Phoenix Arts District (PAD).


jack: What is your vision for the Phoenix Arts District?

C.F. : PAD is located in the warehouse district, in northern Springfield, at 14th, between Market and Liberty Street. Currently, it includes 3 warehouses with over 100,000 square feet of historic raw space! The cornerstone of the district will be the artisan school. PAD is evolving into a mecca where artists (as well as the public) can spark inspiration by visiting and utilizing art studios, retail shops (with original creations), galleries, places to wine and dine, as well as green-spaces for organic collaboration.

jack: Tell us more about the educational aspect of your endeavor. 

C.F. : Our non-profit artisan school will provide classes that are largely inaccessible, due to cost and space, given the equipment required. We will host workshops in glass-blowing, printmaking, wood-working and iron work. Additionally, we will offer education in other mediums, such as analog photography, and fine ceramics, to name a few. Beautiful live/work studios will lure world-class artisans willing to mentor students. These symbiotic relationships will offer both experts and learners space to immerse themselves within the creative process, either through full-time concentrated classes, or workshops. Rather than a degree-based program, I envision a hands-on school, where hours translate into skill. UNF and FSCJ are doing a stellar job of producing high caliber artists, and I am driven to complement those efforts by allowing artists concentrate on their specific craft, full-time, should they desire. They will be able to focus on their work, without drowning in years of art-killing debt. The school will rely on the generosity of investors and donors. Currently, many are excited and engaged in the process, as it blossoms.

jack: Did you actually name a city district? Please explain.

C.F. : Maybe?  Last year, while taking photos with Carl Rosen and Bobby K., the geo-tagging kept naming the area “Phoenix.” Thus, PAD was born. Yes, we got a little creative, and added “Arts District”.  The rest is a history that’s still unfolding.

jack: Where do you see the PAD Arts district in 10 years? 

C.F. : Imagine Wynwood in Miami, if it had a baby with The Penland School in Ashville, NC. Jacksonville’s art scene will birth the best of both worlds, where edgy street art meets fine art.    

jack: You’re a hip working mom, and May is the month we celebrate moms. What’s your best advice for all the ‘cool moms’ out there?

C.F. : Your kid may not love your turquoise hair as much as you do. Be sweet, and always bring a hat. 

Illustration by Roosevelt Watson III

For more info on the Phoenix Art District go to facebook.com/phoenixartsdistrict

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