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They’re a team in life, art and community building. Tom Franco and Julia Lazar are the co-directors and force behind the Firehouse Collaborative, a Berkeley, Calif., non-profit that provides space for local artists to live, work, sell, perform and celebrate.
Franco, the middle son of three from a highly creative family (his brothers James and David are Hollywood actors, his mother is a writer and his father was an artist), is a sculptor who works with found objects. Lazar, a former chef from Austria, is the food, design and visual creator behind the collaborative, which will soon market a line of her custom-brewed kombucha, an effervescent fermented beverage known for its health benefits.
Currently, the Firehouse Collaborative operates six locations in the San Francisco Bay Area that include three galleries, three micro storefronts and a bazaar, four groups of studio space, and two groups of shared apartments. Add to that mix painting and drawing groups, an edible garden, a print shop, ceramic studio, recording studios, glass shop and wood shop plus social events and performance space for rent.
In terms of sculpture, Franco, a graduate of California College of the Arts in Oakland, Calif., collects everyday, discarded objects and then applies glue and brightly colored house paint, delivering his message about the detritus of consumer culture in which we’re all steeped. He says his primary art influences are sculptors William D. Iaculla and Nancy Graves.
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