It’s high noon and the Rosemary District bakes under the boiling sun as Tim Jaeger snags some curbside parking on a sidestreet off Central, throwing the car into park between a weed-choked chainlink fence and grimy bulldozer. “Wanna see something cool?” he asks, eyes hidden behind dark lenses, and, if it weren’t for this local artist’s jovial charm and easygoing nature, one might expect something more sinister awaits. But it’s Jaeger, so you follow. You follow to the corner of Central and Fruitville, to the Arcos apartment complex, and put your face to the glass. A few windows over, you’d be seeing chandeliers and pool tables, a Starbucks or a sauna, but here you cup your hands from the glare and see only an empty room, barely more than 800 square feet of marble floor, a chunk bitten out of one corner for what appears to be a narrow closet or extremely uncomfortable bathroom. “This is passion project 1,562,” says Jaeger. This empty room will soon be Sarasota’ newest gallery, and, for a year at least, it’s his baby.

Today, GAZE Modern fills to its little brim with ceramic art—a bold choice for a debut show in a town known more for its love of seascapes and glass, but one that Jaeger believes the community was waiting for, whether it knew it or not. Entitled Color and Content: Polly Johnson + Taylor Robenalt, the show unites two women ceramicists who had never met before Jaeger’s introduction, and whom audiences have never seen showing together, but whose work now converses from the pedestals positioned across the marble floor. And this is part of the beauty of running a gallery, Jaeger says, being able to connect artists to other artists as much as to new audiences, to stimulate creativity as much as you celebrate it, and to explore the gaps thus far unnoticed. He quotes Miles Davis—“Play what’s not there”—and imagines a gallery with the same nimble nature as an improvising jazz musician—ready to change it up at a moment’s notice, to read the room and adapt, to make an impact with a single note. Today that means ceramics, but future exhibitions will see the room entirely transformed, movable walls and ever-changing décor molding to each artist, even if that means installing a letterpress in February just to move it out by March.


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GAZE may not be large in size, but Jaeger’s ambitions are big enough for the two of them.

The gallery almost didn’t happen, and as Jaeger puts it, there was no reason it had to happen, but Arcos developers at the Tampa-based Framework Group sought the artist out last year for his thoughts on their complex, the burgeoning Rosemary District and the local arts scene. Jaeger wasn’t sure what, if anything, would come of the meeting, but when they reached out again, it was with an offer he couldn’t refuse—total control. The space wouldn’t be much, they said, but entirely his to do with as he pleased. They encouraged championing local, and set commission rates lower than any other gallery in town—including taking zero commission on any student work sold, allowing 100% to go to the artist. Arcos tenants receive discounts, further incentivizing buying local, and Framework itself expects to buy many pieces itself, which can then be displayed at any of their properties across the nation. “It’s an incredible opportunity,” says Jaeger. “This is the perfect gallery for up-and-coming artists to showcase their new body of work, or for established artists, locally and regionally, to come and exhibit a handful of paintings.”

And for Jaeger, it seems an important next step for a Kentucky transplant who has grown into a pillar of the artistic community. A graduate of Ringling College, his time in Sarasota since reads almost like a rundown of the local arts scene itself. Fresh out of college, he cut his teeth as a gallery assistant under the brusque command of none other than Allyn Gallup, working part-time at a local bookstore. Jaeger worked galleries up and down Palm. He worked galleries in Towles Court. He became chief exhibition manager at Art Center Sarasota for a year, before going full circle and taking a position at Ringling College, where he would serve as gallery assistant in the Selby Gallery, under Kevin Dean. Around the same time, he cofounded the artist collective SARTQ. Still, although he’s co-curated more than 80 exhibitions and shown in at least 100, he admits to a certain exposure in his new position. Whereas every previous exhibition came with some other entity standing behind it, whether that be Gallup or the college, ready to take the heat or offer support, now it’s just Jaeger. “For the last 20 years I’ve done my best to establish myself as a trusted and quality local artist, and to put it all out there with something like this can feel a little uneasy,” he says. “There is a certain sense of vulnerability.”

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But to be vulnerable can also mean to be open, and that’s what Jaeger brings to the table—an openness to listen, to collaborate, to view the exhibition process from all three perspectives: gallery, artist and audience. “A big part of that comes from observing the world around you, unselfishly,” he says. “Listen to the people on the streets. Listen to what they’re writing about. Listen to what they’re posting about, what’s making them upset or angry or just react.” In short, while the artist may thrive in seclusion, the gallery director will not. Still, he knows all too well the risk individual artists take as well, offering their work into the hands of another for curation and presentation. “I ask myself what I would want if I were walking into the space,” Jaeger says. “How can I make this a fun, positive experience for the artist, so they’re as enthusiastic as I am about producing an exhibition?”

Already off to a running start with Color and Content, the rest of the year sees exhibitions from painter and SARTQ cofounder Joseph Arnegger; painter, photographer and Ringling Museum preparator Keith Crowley; letterpress maven Bridget Elmer; and a dual show from Tom Casmer, painter and Ringling College instructor, and Mary Grandpre, acclaimed international illustrator.

“With this, we’re looking to tell a story,” Jaeger says. “We’re looking to build something meaningful with the community. And I’m confident in the quality of the work and I’m confident in the people who will be coming to the gallery.” Opening November 3 in GAZE Modern, Color and Content: Polly Johnson + Taylor Robenalt runs through December 3.


With an opportunity to learn from the best, Tim Jaeger shares words of wisdom from a few of his Sarasota mentors.

On Allyn Gallup: Follow your convictions and love what you do. Allyn loved art and he loved people, as funny as that might sound. He loved owning a gallery and he demonstrated how great life could be if you truly love what it is that you do.

On Annie Solomon: She was kind of like a mother to all the artists. She participated in everything and taught me how important it was to participate in what other artists are doing, just as much as what you’re doing.

On Virginia Hoffman: She really demonstrated how big of a voice you can have as a local artist, whether or not people like what it is that you’re saying. We all have the opportunity to make a difference.

On Kevin Dean: Kevin Dean was the quiet guy in the room who really thought things through. He was very patient. I accepted his patience. He taught me a lot about listening to other artists, because he would listen to anybody who walked into his office, without an invitation and at any time of day. And, like Allyn, he really loved what he was doing.