Cultural Preview: Continuum

West Palm Beach’s most exciting gallery is fleeting. It’s open for a brief window of time every January, and its location is a surprise. It’s presented by South Florida artists for South Florida artists. It embraces graffiti and fashion, as well as fine art. It is Continuum.

Trina Slade-Burks and her husband, Anthony Burks, hosted the first Continuum in January 2014 alongside fellow local artist Craig McInnis. One of the founders of ArtSynergy, an organization that hosts grassroots arts events throughout the county to coincide with Art Palm Beach, McInnis asked the Burks to spearhead the West Palm happening. The couple saw it as a chance to bring awareness to area artists and also provide economic opportunities.

“My husband and I have been involved in the art scene going on 15 years, [and] it has grown by leaps and bounds,” Slade-Burks says. “We want to be able to provide these artists with a level of sustainability for their livelihood.”

As a counterpoint to Art Palm Beach, the nationally acclaimed fine arts fair geared toward collectors, Continuum offers something edgier, incorporating unconventional mediums and happenings into its roster of events. On any night, Continuum might host live muralists, body painters, or cake battles.

“Art is connected to so many different things, and there is a diversity involved,” Slade-Burks says. “We want people to see the connection between art and other types of multimedia, such as fashion shows.” 

Continuum 2017 is scheduled for January 19-28 and will include its signature popup gallery, although the location is still unknown. That announcement will drop around the holidays. One thing is for certain: Continuum will embody all that is new, now, and noteworthy in South Florida art.

Continuum 2016 popup gallery. (Photo courtesy of Continuum)

Here, Slade-Burks discusses the evolution of the arts in South Florida and the nature of Continuum. In what ways have you seen West Palm Beach’s art scene grow in recent years?

Slade-Burks: In terms of having the community scene, it has grown leaps and bounds. I was initially one of the founding artists of the Artists of Palm Beach County, so we always had an initiative of getting people to see what is going on in Palm Beach County in terms of the artists themselves. Often times people hear South Florida artists and they think automatically of Miami, and we wanted to give people another taste of what’s going on in the Northwood area, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Delray, those areas. Even though we do a lot of work in the Northwood area, taking on downtown West Palm was a great experience because a lot of people didn’t see a whole lot of art going on at the time. There would be a gallery here and there and it kind of would fall off or close, and then it would start over again. Continuum literally brought that vibe for the downtown area, where it’s now the Arts and Entertainment District. That was, in part, due to us taking on that big leap of doing Continuum.

What can people expect in terms of aesthetics within this scene?

I think diversity is the important word because we don’t want people to think that they’re going to see exactly the same thing coming from everyone. For instance, Canvas, their vision is basically about murals, which is great. We want people to see the connection between art and other types of multimedia, such as fashion shows. We do have live muralists who do some different things as well, but it’s not about walls. It’s about showing how art and another element can connect and mean something. We like all the weird stuff. At previous events, we had cake battles and body painters incorporated into the fashion show with real designers and real artists collaborating.

What can attendees expect to see at Continuum 2017?

The popup gallery is a definite. We always do a call from Martin County all the way to Dade. We are going to do another fashion show. We are going to continue to do the body painting because that’s been a huge hit. We’re incorporating student artists in our projects now. We’re going to do the Young Masters of Continuum, where they get to partner with an existing artist that will be in the show, kind of a mentorship program, and they will get to exhibit art in the space. And we’re still going to be having the black tie and sneakers kickoff event.

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