Southwest Florida artist chosen for Gulfshore Life’s Men of the Year

Reporter: Lindsey Sablan
Published: Updated:
Chad Jensen

Many can relate to losing something priceless during Hurricane Ian.

Maybe a family heirloom or pictures.

But think about artists and their life’s work swept up in water in minutes.

Hurricane Ian devastated Chad Jensen’s gallery Method and Concept.

Jensen is one of the few people who can describe the remnants of Hurricane Ian and make it sound like a piece of art.

“When you walked in the entire floor was like a sheet of black glass. It was like a perfect, still pond like a reflection pond,” Jensen said, adding that, ”within 24 or 48 hours, it’s already oxidizing a lot of the steel things that were in the space or anything that was like exposed metal,” Jensen said.

Jensen saved some pieces he made but he lost a lot, along with other artists’ work he displays.

“It hurts a lot, because they’re all young, for the most part, younger-ish, you know, living artists,” Jensen said. “Their sole livelihood is based on their art production.”

Jensen’s known in the industry for helping the little guy break out.

He also mentors at FGCU, teaching student creatives to understand their worth so they don’t have to be a starving artist.

Water got into Chad Jensen’s art gallery.

That stood out to Gulfshore Life magazine and they decided to honor him as one of this year’s Men of the Year.

“We try to be a bridge,” Jensen said.

But just as important is what Jensen’s doing for art in Southwest Florida.

“Art can be seen as like a luxury commodity. But when you come from a place like Detroit, it’s not luxury,” Jensen said.

When he moved to Naples, he didn’t feel there was a space for artists and collectors to gather.

Ten years ago, Jensen started looking around and wanted an area steeped in history.

He found it at the corner of 10th Street South and First Avenue South, where a freight train used to run through.

“It later became the orange Boston specialist, which also brought the passenger train down. And then Johnny Cash wrote a song about the orange Boston special,” Jensen said.

The industrial hub that train ran through is now the Naples Design District.

He’s really proud of his small plot of land outside his gallery that was unmaintained city property.

He got permission to create the winding path and the botanical garden brought in beautiful plants.

“Part of that master plan is green space in walkable space and pedestrian space,” Jensen said.

Ultimately he wants his to connect the design district and the Gulfshore Playhouse’s new theater.

“I’m like a granular kind of person, I like one-on-one, I like to affect change in very small ways, but meaningful, that have longer-lasting impacts, you know, and I feel like that Park is a little bit like that,” Jensen said.

Using art to inspire, beautify and create community.

That small park inspired the Botanical Gardens to look at other neglected areas in Collier County where they can bring in plants and revitalize the area.

You can read more about Jensen and other men and women of the year at Gulfshore Life.

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