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The Orlando Sentinel

For Couple, It's All About The Art

by Roger Moore

July 23, 2000
Copyright © 2000 The Orlando Sentinel. All Rights Reserved.

Victor Perez and wife, Tiphanie Local art. Perezes work to showcase local artists . (Angela Peterson/The Orlando Sentinel)
Thanks to Victor Perez, the Orlando art world has an annual "Nude Nite." Local Hispanic artists get an annual showing in his "Art Con Sabor" (Art With Flavor) show. He does shows featuring women artists only, and shows featuring local male artists.

The list of Orlando art lovers who owe Victor Perez is a long one. When he only had a tiny frame shop, he turned it into a place where artists could show their works and art films could be shown: Gallery 611.

"Even when I`ve only got a little space, I want artists to use it," Perez said. "They need places to show. Right now, the arts scene here is ready to explode. All it takes is places where they can get their work before the public."

Artists and other friends in Orlando`s hip arts scene are toasting and roasting Perez at The Globe restaurant Tuesday night. From the sounds of things, they`ll be doing more toasting.

"Victor Perez is a guy with a passion for artists and getting them seen," said Frankie Messina, host of the occasional roving art-and-music party, Apartment E. "He does it without pretense and with a finesse and passion that are an example to everyone else in Orlando."

The rent might be a little late. Sometimes his phone or power get cut off because he can`t keep up with bills. He can pitch a show, for instance, to the Hispanic community, featuring Hispanic artists, whom the Hispanic community ignores. But Perez, 40, is a man who stays on task: finding places to champion local artists` work.

A native of Puerto Rico who has lived here 22 years, Perez made the transition from skateboarding and promoting skateboarding events to art almost by accident.

He opened a picture-framing shop, V-Groove, on Orange Avenue. When he opened a second frame shop on 611 Brookhaven, artists began asking to display their work there, and Gallery 611 was born. He got deeper into the arts-promotion business because he doesn`t believe that "artists should have to show at either the Orlando Museum of Art, which is a great space, or a bar, just to be seen. They need encouragement. They need customers."

Tiphanie, his wife, is an artist who met Perez through his shows.

"She`s the one who gets tough with the artists, gives them deadlines and makes them get organized," Perez said.

"Victor is too easy on them," Tiphanie said with a laugh. The couple, partners in V-Groove Productions, are ramping up to a schedule of one show a month, starting in September.

Even his birthday parties become arts happenings. Aug. 18, he`ll do a "Funk Night" at Club Fluid -- part party, part fund-raiser for future projects.

Perez`s biggest dream is to create a permanent local gallery space along antiques row in a building that was formerly an oriental rug shop called Royal Rugs at the corner of North Orange Avenue and Princeton Street. He has a show, "Ten Women Artists," scheduled to go up there Sept. 7.

"It`s the center of what is happening in the arts, the best location in town, in between Florida Hospital, the Orlando Museum of Art, Theatre Downtown, White Wolf and the Science Center."

He has installed shows in this building, The Space, with great success. And he wants to rent it long term, beginning in September, in collaboration with the Stone Soup Collective and Apartment E.

"It`s always money, money, that holds us back, but we`ll get it, and if we don`t, we`ll find someplace else to show," he said. "I`ve got exhibits planned, artists I want to showcase. You can`t let money stop you. But it`s a lot of work to find locations. I hope we can find some patrons who help us make this a home."

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