Six months after vacating her art studio overlooking Lake Mirror, Kimberly Wyant is opening a much larger and interactive version of KRaP ART (938 E. Main St.) with a grand opening Saturday afternoon followed by an evening concert. In preparation, photographer David Dickey Jr. and I spent some time at Kimberly’s new digs and talked with her about her workspace, her background and her plans.

Name: Kimberly Wyant

Title: Founder, KRaP ART, Kimberly’s Recycled Art Projects

Age: 50

Define what you do in 25 words or less: I create art from found objects and share space with Lakeland artists of all types to come and create.

What kind of workplace is it? It’s large, expansive, slightly overwhelming and wonderful. (To elaborate, Kimberly and a corps of volunteers have spent months readying her new space,  a former auto storage facility at 938 E. Main St. behind Boring Business Systems.)

What in your workplace shows off your passions? The hangout spaces have the vibe I would want in my own home. It feels like home to me. Also, the community art wall because the whole idea is for people to come and express themselves.

How else will people be able to express themselves here? With instruments, crayons, the coloring couch. I’m going to turn that whole area into a coloring corner. The pottery studio will be available, and people can rent time on the wheel. They can rent the community room and teach classes, hold clubs, have meetings. Each week I’ll have a theme where I’ll focus on one form; we’ll have a jewelry week, for example, where we bring out different things to make jewelry with. There’s the reading nook, and I have board games in there.

Photos by David Dickey Jr.

Do you envision a time people can come and relax, play games, get something to drink? Yeah, that’s the thing. I already have concessions. I don’t have any alcohol. It’s basically packaged snacks — water and soda and iced tea.

Is that just for performances or would I be able to come in at 2 in the afternoon and use the wifi and get a bottle of water? Yes, but there will be a door charge to come in because I have to cover the cost of supplies people will want to use. So it will be $7 to come in. But I’ll be open all day and toward the end of the week we’ll close for a couple hours and set up for shows or whatever will be happening.

What are the hours? Monday through Saturday 9 to 5. On Thursdays through Saturdays we re-open at 7.

If there’s not a show, will it still be open in the evening? Yeah, because I want to have open mic night. I want to have poetry night. I want people to be able to come here and hang out. I want the kids to have somewhere to go and hang out. I’ll have easels. Artists can come and work and rent storage for their supplies for a week or two or a month, depending on the project.

So high school and college kids come in the evening to hang out and there’s a $7 admission? Yes, or they can purchase memberships. We’ll have tiered levels. We will have a monthly membership where they can come anytime they want to for $65 a month or they can get a 10-visit-a-month pass for $50. (There are also family memberships. Learn more.) And that gives them access to the art supplies and everything. They would never have to pay at the door. They would have to pay for shows. They would get a discount to any of our workshops.

What project are you excited about? People who are approaching me asking me about utilizing the facility in exactly the way I envisioned it would be used. That’s already happened. I have students coming really excited about hanging out here. A lot of people have come in to check us out.

What’s your most important work tool? My energy.

Mac or PC? I don’t even know the difference. I use all kinds. I use an iPhone; I have a Surface Pro.

Favorite productivity tools: Making lists on my phone. I schedule a lot of alerts. I get so caught up that I would miss a lot of things without alerts. I get consumed, so alerts on my phone become my lifeline.

Tip for keeping organized: Hire somebody who knows how to do it.

Are you able to do that? I’m able to barter for it.

Favorite diversions on your mobile: Taking pictures of things.

Favorite information site – other than lkldnow: I really like See.Me. You have to be very cautious because if you put it in wrong you come up with pornography. The See.Me community is very involved in Art Basel.  I follow some really cool people on Instagram — people in art, people who travel the world and photograph art and murals. So I get a lot of information from that.

What do you usually wear to work? It depends on my mood. Some days I feel like I want to be living in the 50s, so I might go pinup styles. Some days I feel my hippie roots and I’m in my skirts. I don’t really have a style. I love jump suits — mechanic suits — because they’re super comfortable and easy to wear and they have pockets to hold things. But I also like to work in skirts and dresses because they’re comfortable to work in.

How did you prepare for what you do? My artistic experience comes from working in the trenches and volunteering a lot of time to effects shops and scenic shops when I was in film and television.

Was that in California? Yep.

Tell me about what you did in that part of your life. I worked for Power Rangers. That was the first job. I did the special effects costumes — the creatures and the bad guys. That was 1992 and 3. I ended up having to quit because the wages were so low I couldn’t afford to work there. And then they hired me back in a different department doing props for a little while. And then I ended up becoming a department head for another kids show called Beetleborg. I ran the department that puts the costumes back together. We would buy grownup costumes and I’d have to buy all the parts that were missing.  And I also did music videos and movies and things like that.

Anything people would recognize? Yeah, I worked on a couple of Destiny’s Child music videos and Jermaine Dupri, a hip-hop artist. I did Pontiac commercials and McDonald’s commercials.

What did you do in Destiny’s Child videos? I did the set. We did three different music videos for them. And 98 Degrees, I did their very first music video. I have a piece of art here from them. They were the nicest guys.

What brought you to Florida? A job — working on Islands of Adventure at Universal. I got a job as a concrete sculptor and scenic artist out there. I’ve continued to do other things. I built Mardi Gras floats in New Orleans. I painted tattoo shop windows. I painted the whole entrance at the Portofino Hotel at Universal and all around the lakes out there. I did work at Disney. I came up with the paint format for recreating some trees that came out of the rain forest for Fort Wilderness.

How did you become a businessperson? I am very fortunate to have friends who are business smart and help guide me through that. I have a lot of really good mentors who help me through the parts I’m just learning about. I started small. I started with a booth in Texas and had an art market once a month while I was working for my husband at the time. Then I came back here and got a tent at the Saturday market. And then I opened a gallery near my house at the back half of Southwest Barber (on Lincoln Avenue.) Then I grew into the space at Artegon in Orlando. But I missed Lakeland and I came back. Driving back every night I wondered, “Why am I in Orlando?” This city is so cool, and it’s so pretty here. And I’m so glad to be back. I missed my friends. I missed the community. So then I got the place on Lake Mirror and we all know what happened from there.

What book, TV show, movie or music has captured your imagination lately? Probably “Illusions” (by Richard Bach). A friend of mine gave it to me. It’s a story about a couple of pilots who fly single-engine planes. It talks about how life is an illusion and you create it as you go.

Is there something you’re working on that makes Lakeland a more livable community? I’m working on building a privately owned community music and art center for anybody, but mainly for high school and college-age kids to come and hang out, express themselves artistically, musically, safely in an inspiring environment.

What about Lakeland makes you excited? There is a passion for the arts in this community that creates a better place to live. Art is such a healthy thing to have in your environment. It enhances every other aspect of your life. Lakeland is embracing that.

What about Lakeland has you worried? The biggest problem is the infrastructure — the traffic. That’s the biggest issue. Lakeland is about to really boom growthwise and they’re going to think about more strategic road building.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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