Byline: TAMARA McCLARAN
If you build it, they will come. That's what Ponte Vedra Beach artist and photographer Anthony Hodge is hoping about his new Web site, www.jaxart.ning.com.
JaxArt is a free social networking site, similar to myspace.com, specifically designed for Beaches-area artists to promote their work and network. Hodge recently discovered ning.com, an online platform to create a social network, and decided he wanted to offer an alternative to local art Web sites that charge artists for representation.
"As an artist, I am always amazed how many other promotional Web sites are out there that are willing to help artists for a fee," Hodge said. "The difference with this site is that it's free."
The JaxArt site is open to all Jacksonville-area visual artists. There are several art specialties represented, including digital art, oil paintings, multimedia, mixed media, pastels, photography, sculpture and water colors. The new jaxart.ning.com site operates like Myspace, allowing user members to customize and manage their own profiles.
Users cannot make their individual pages private, but can limit access.
Hodge, who also handles publicity for Players by the Sea, learned about ning.com from the Jacksonville Theatre alliance, which has a ning.com networking site with more than 100 members.
There are no limitations or restrictions on artist membership; Hodge said artistic beauty and skill is in the eye of the beholder.
JaxArt and other ning.com sites generate their revenue through online advertising such as Ads by Google. Hodge is hoping the Web site will encourage more networking among local artists. Hodge, who has an individual Web site and Myspace page in addition to a JaxArt page, said artists cannot have too much presence on the Internet.
While JaxArt provides artists with a free online marketing tool, the concept is not new. Approximately two years ago, Steve Carey, who owns Ocean Web Design in Atlantic Beach, developed www.jaxartists.com, a promotional Web site for local artists and musicians. Carey said he has a lot of friends in the art and music community and saw a need for an online artist directory where information would be easy to find.
About 40 artists are jaxartists.com members. …