Chasen Opens v2.0 at Westfield Siesta Key

Arts & Culture

BY ANDREW FABIAN SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY NOV 8, 2019

When Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue left Westfield Siesta Key, they took with them the gravity of their brands, a gravity that pulled shoppers into the orbit of the brightly lit, air-conditioned corridors of the mall. Since then, the mall has been somewhat successful in reimagining itself as something of a social nexus with a high-end theatre, a highly popular grocery, respectable restaurants and a fresh gym. The arts, too, are a part of the reimagining. For Andrew Chasen of Chasen Galleries, the sparsely occupied mall was an opportunity to try something a little different and see if fine art really can help progress the mall’s reinvention.

“A fine art gallery can help bring a level of respect and sophistication,” says Chasen. The mall already has Art Avenue, a large gallery owned by entrepreneur and art collector Paul Sykes, but Chasen’s second gallery would offer a more intimate, local appeal. The location is prime, with easy access from a large swatch of Sarasota’s more well-heeled neighborhoods. “It really should be more successful than it is,” says Chasen of Westfield Siesta Key. And, because the mall’s occupancy still leaves a bit to be desired, Chasen was able to secure a favorable lease. His second Sarasota gallery will occupy the space formerly held by White House Black Market. Already amply wired for lighting, the space, which is slightly larger than Chasen’s Osprey Avenue location, was a perfect fit for a gallery. What’s more, the same hardware that once held racks of clothes is also perfectly adapted to hanging art. For Chasen, the risk is low and the reward high. When asked if fine art can really help anchor a mall as a long-term cultural destination, Chasen says “why not?” 

Pictured: Art now lines the walls where clothes were once displayed.

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