Artists Kyle Friese, left, and Matt Walker perform together in the improv group The Third Thought and have shared space at The Studios at 5663 for the past few months.
PINELLAS PARK – Matt Walker started working at Painting with a Twist, 5625 Park Blvd., within the Pinellas Arts Village when it opened in the fall.
At the grand opening, he was approached by Debra Rose, the city of Pinellas Park’s director of cultural affairs, who works tirelessly to promote the arts district and draw new artists to it.
“She said to me, ‘Oh, you’re an artist. You should apply for [The Studios at 5663,]’ and showed me around,” he said.
The Studios consist of 10 separate art studios and the city has been working to fill the last few vacant spots.
“I just thought it was really cool,” he said.
It was an easy decision for him to apply.
The St. Pete native currently lives in Wesley Chapel and makes the trek to Pinellas County where there are more opportunities for creative individuals.
He decided to share his studio space with another artist to make it more affordable. Plus, as an artist, he thought he would prefer having someone to talk to.
“It’s an introverted experience making art,” Walker said. “It’s nice to turn around and say, ‘Hey, what’s up?’”
While seeking another artist to share the space, he realized simply by scanning the Instagram accounts he followed that his friend Kyle Friese also was a painter.
“Otherwise, I had no idea,” Walker said.
The two had known each other for less than a year at that point. They performed together in the improv comedy group The Third Thought.
Walker joined the group in June when he returned from a two-year stint in Los Angeles.
He laughs when he remembers jokes Friese made about him the first time they performed together.
“‘Look at Mr. Hollywood, coming back,’” Friese said. “It was a dumb bit.”
So while the pair have collaborated comedically for the past eight months, they had no idea they shared a talent as painters as well. They’re also both musicians. Walker released a full-length album, Half Awake, last year.
Friese thought it was a great idea to join his friend at the Studios.
“It seemed like a great idea,” he said. “So why not?”
The two have very different artistic styles, though.
Walker is drawn to the human figure, while Friese incorporates humor and whimsy into his work.
Friese, who is from Tarpon Springs, is about to head out on his own California adventure, though. He’s heading to Los Angeles to build his comedy career.
His artwork will remain on display at the Studios, though, Walker said.
“So it’s like he’ll still be here,” he added.
In the meantime, he’s searching for a studio roommate.
He’ll also continue to work with The Third Thought. They perform the first Friday of every month at Black Crow Coffee Company in St. Petersburg and the second Friday of each month at Jungle Bill’s Tiki Grill in Clearwater.
He’s also working to pull together his curated comedy show, The Estate Show, which takes place at a private home in St. Petersburg but is open to the public.