The Church of Holy Colors

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Above: Evan Galbicka paints at the Church of Holy Colors, an influential art space downtown with growing ties to the local music scene. If you haven’t experienced Gainesville’s vibrant underground culture, here’s a great place to start. (Photo by Ashley Crane)

True to its name, the interior and exterior of the Church of Holy Colors are testaments to a pure love and worship of color. Every door, corner, wall casing, floorboard, piece of tile, everything, has been integrated into a greater, continuous piece of artistic work – each part unique, none singularly noticed. The church is a tangible expression of an artist’s statement.

“None of the art at CHC is ever really signed,” says one of the original founders, Evan Galbicka. “It isn’t necessary. You know who created what by looking around and by truly knowing each other.” And that’s exactly the mission of CHC: to encourage real human interaction, collaboration and creation. Each person is a unique character, like a color, and makes a distinct but unclaimed contribution to the greater picture. It’s a sacrifice of the ego in an effort to reach a more refined expression.

Though the church itself is a working space for resident artists, it also functions as a recording studio for musicians. Gainesville locals may recognize some of the homegrown bands that have played at CHC, like Hundred Waters and Euglossine. The church’s musical followers have grown en masse within the last few years, so much so that the CHC recently built a modular stage to increase visibility from the first three rows.

As Evan explains it, the church sees these events as a way to initiate human contact in a perpetually technical culture. He doesn’t think communicating through social media should be the norm. “We’re not technical beings,” he says. “There are truths expressed in the art [and music] that help us live more happily.”

CHC members hope to work directly with the community on various upcoming projects. About a year ago, the church planted a garden, which continues to grow through community support and functions to educate others in D.I.Y. techniques and sustainability. With the help of a few volunteers and Chris Cano, founder and owner of Gainesville Compost, CHC recently planted for the new season in February. At the event, participants planted seedlings in raised beds and received Cano’s instructions on composting.

CHC is a place of refuge, but also reuse. A major part of its non-technical mission is to reduce its consumptive footprint. As a result, the church’s members seek out leftover waste materials like paint and wood, which can be synthesized into completed works of art.

As a recent project, the church raised $8,500 through a Kickstarter campaign to purchase a diesel van for its upcoming art and music endeavors. In an effort to live better, CHC intends to convert the van to run on used vegetable oil (rather than biodiesel). They’ve already solicited contracts with members of the local business community for obtaining the oil to use as fuel for their van.

CHC is excited to share the cultural nexus of Florida art and music that Gainesville has been developing into. They see the bus as a mobile encapsulation of this Florida culture, which they can transport to other cities. Elestial Sound, a record label that hosts many local artists, had its first showcase at the South by Southwest music festival in Texas, where CHC came to work with them on the visual elements.

If you haven’t experienced Gainesville’s vibrant underground culture, the Fifth Avenue block (part of a currently developing land-share/trust in downtown Gainesville) is a great place to start. The block is home to CHC and several other community-minded and supported ventures, such as the Civic Media Center, the Citizens’ Co-op, the Sequential Artist Workshop and the Repurpose Project.

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