Jake and Cassie Greatens

The 1920’s Hyde Park bungalow that Jake and Cassie Greatens share with their four children is in sharp contrast to the stark white, edgy art space that is CASS. These are two completely different environments but together they reveal the many facets of the couple’s lives and personalities.

Their home is warm and charming, filled with kids, comfort and fun. It is their inner world, a serene place for family time, food and friends. CASS: Contemporary Art Space & Studio is a manifestation of their artistic, well-travelled lives. This is where they share their love of thought-provoking, collectible modern art with the community. Here in this lively, social and collaborative space Jake and Cassie invite the world in for deeper conversations about art.

Photographed at CASS in Palma Ceia and in their home in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Tampa.

Give us 10 words to describe CASS Contemporary.  Fresh.  Welcoming.  Interesting.  Diverse.  Art.  Emerging.  Culture.  Local.  Collaboration.  Authentic.

Unfortunately, many people are just looking for art to match their sofa. Your gallery is edgier. How is that being received in Tampa?  So far we have received a great amount of support from the community, not just artists but people interested in getting involved in the arts.  We had a great show last month and we are excited and already hearing other people’s excitement regarding our next show, that will run through July and August.  We will see where the road takes us.

Where did you meet and when did you arrive in Tampa? We met in high school in Lakeland.  Our first meeting was quite interesting.  I think it went down something like this: Jake came to my friend’s house, I answered the door and I may or may not have shut it in his face because I didn’t know who he was at the time.  Less than a month later we were best friends.  We moved to Tampa together in 2006.

Where did you go to university and what did you study?  We both graduated from the University of Tampa.  I studied Government and World Affairs,  Jake studied Fine Arts with an emphasis in sculpting.  I also received my Masters of Education in Social Science from the University of Tampa.

You’re both very well-travelled and could have set down roots anywhere. Why Tampa?  One reason is family.  With four kids having our parents close is a lifesaver.  Every time we used to travel, we would come home and throw the idea around about relocating. But when it was time to make that decision, we were invested in opening CASS.  We wanted to contribute to the growing Tampa art scene.  Now we are invested in Tampa, our kid’s friends are here, we have friends here and CASS has made Tampa very special to us.

What are your children’s names and ages? Zoe is 11, Maeby is 8, Genevieve is 5 and Smith is 17 months.

And your four-footed family member?  Priscilla is our English Bulldog.  She is named after Priscilla Presley.  We are all huge Elvis fans—including the girls!

Tell us about Palma Ceia. What is your vision for the neighborhood?  We chose to open CASS in the Palma Ceia District because we think it has great potential.  It already has a ton of great local businesses and new businesses are moving in and transforming the area.  Eventually our hope is that it becomes a walkable destination where people want to visit to stroll, shop and dine.

Where do you find inspiration?  Inspiration is all around us.  Our friends, our family, our children and each other.  When we travel we are inspired, when we watch our kids we are inspired.  Hearing a song sparks inspiration.  There isn’t just one thing,  Jake and I believe that hearing or seeing things around the world, that speak to us, builds inspiration and allows us to be creative and choose how we want to live our life.  

What is your dream trip?  We have been on some pretty amazing trips, so this question is very hard for us to answer.  We went to Thailand and Cambodia for our honeymoon, which was unbelievable.  More recent, we visited London, Paris and Berlin and fell in love with all three.  That trip was a main influence in wanting to open CASS.   Our dream trip doesn’t involve a place, per se, it involves what we want to accomplish while we are there.  We always want to stay enough time in a place, to not only hit up all the landmarks, but take days just to soak up the culture, enjoy the food, pretend we live there.

You have four kids and a gallery to run. If there is such a thing, tell us about your typical day?  Luckily our kids are great sleepers.  Well, to some 7-7:30 isn’t great, but with a 17-month old, we feel pretty lucky.  We all get up and eat breakfast together, if there is one things about the Greatens, it’s that we don’t miss our breakfast, well….Dad enjoys coffee for his.  Summer and school year are very different schedules for us, but one thing stays the same and that’s the work schedule.  Morning involves playtime, camps or school.  Afternoon we have a rest time (kids can choose how they rest, watch a movie or read) and play time. We always make time for a good lunch, usually together and snack time in the late afternoon.  Our nights always vary.  We all love family movie night or family game night, where typically mom wins!  Smith loves Goodnight Moon, the girls usually lay together and play a game on their iPads and then lights out. Jake and I either work together at night or watch one of our shows or a good movie.  Don’t get us wrong, we love to throw in some surprises for the kids.

What has surprised you most about opening CASS?  The reception we have received from the community.  The local artists, galleries, museum, Arts Council and art enthusiasts have been so welcoming and open to new ideas and working together.  We are so happy and feel incredibly lucky to be a part of the Tampa art scene.  We have visions of great things happening here.

Do you have a strategy for finding new artists for your gallery?  We do a lot of researching; locally, nationally and internationally.  We read a lot! Some of our days at the gallery, are spent on our computers reading articles, looking up artists, contacting individual artists, established or emerging.  Social media plays a role in the art community now, more than ever.  We reach out to artists on social media and it’s an easy and fast way to communicate.  We have “Call to Artists” out in different publications, but we are very hands on with contacting artists that we feel fit the CASS profile.

Jake, what influences your own personal art?  Most of my artwork is inspired from personal experiences.  My childhood is one thing that triggers my ideas.  People experience different things at different times in their life.  Our world and lives are ever-changing, therefore so is my artwork.

Do you have a favorite spot in Tampa Bay?  We love to be on the go, dine out and experience everything Tampa has to offer, but as far as our favorite spot in Tampa goes, we love our house.  Jake and I enjoy being at home with our friends and family.  We love to entertain, whether it is a dinner party or hosting a play date for 15 kids, our home is sacred to all of us.

Where do you go for a long weekend escape?  New York or Nashville.  Both places have great food and great shopping.  We never run out of things to do in either place.  Jake and I love going to these places by ourselves or with the kids.  Our kids love New York and Nashville just as much as we do.  They love to try new foods, see shows on Broadway, shop or just relax walking around the city.  These are places we feel comfortable not doing a thing in and excited to pound the pavement and do everything in.

How has Tampa become part of your identity?  It has taken awhile for Tampa to become part of our identity.  Every time you move to different place, it takes time to settle in and really establish your place in the city.  When we bought our house, we made a commitment to Tampa, when we had children here we made a commitment to Tampa, and opening CASS was our final stamp on Tampa.  Every thing we experience here, making our memories here, becoming part of the Tampa art scene and community, has shaped the Tampa identity that is now embedded in our family.

What’s the best advice you have ever gotten?  My parents have always told Jake and me; Do what you love and love what you do, which helped us follow our dream of CASS.  Regarding life, I think the best advice we’ve received is, don’t forget to stop and take it all in, because you aren’t here forever.

Where might we find you dining out?  Dining out is one of our favorite pastimes as a family.  We consider ourselves kind of, sort of foodies.  If a new restaurant opens, we are there. We like to encourage our kids to try new foods. When we vacation, we have reservations for lunches and dinners made, before we even buy the airfare.  Tampa has so many great places to eat.  We love to support local restaurants and make a point to not eat at huge chains often.  Dough, Datz, Woody’s, Wrights, Edison Food Lab, Boca, Pinky’s, Ella’s, Oxford Exchange, Cena, Cappy’s, Elevage, Fly Bar, Berns…we like variety!    

Favorite object in house? Jake-the porch swing, I enjoy swinging on a Saturday morning, drinking my coffee. It is my “me” time.  Cassie-I’m going to go cheesy on you, but my favorite object is something that I have had since I was 17, it’s lived with me in four different states. It’s a picture of Jake and I the first day we kissed at Busch Gardens. How many couples can say they have a picture of that?  Zoe-the piano, I love to play it.  Maeby-the entry way mirror, I like looking at myself in it.Genevieve- my mom’s jewelry box, I like to dress up in her stuff.  Smith-crayons, I like to color, as well as break them in half.

Curiously, your home does not contain a lot of art. Is that intentional? We have art in our house, but it’s not traditional art. We have objects that we bought during our travels that is deemed as art, but isn’t framed two-dimensional.  Our house is a 1920’s bungalow and doesn’t lend itself to have many things on the wall due to the architectural design inside.  We also have many found objects in our house that we think of as art. However, with the recent addition of Smith to the family, we will soon be moving to a larger house.  The new new house will give us the opportunity to have many art objects, such as paintings and sculptures.

You both have great personal style. Where do you shop for clothes? Shopping…ok maybe that’s one of our favorite pastimes! We all love to shop. There are no specific places we shop all the time. However, in Tampa, I am very fond of Penelope T on Bay-to-Bay. Jake and I love supporting boutique style shopping, not just limited to the Tampa area; when we travel, we shop. Fashion varies depending on your location, so it’s nice to pick up pieces in Nashville, New York, Los Angeles or wherever we are traveling.  We cheat and go to department stores such as Nordstrom, Neimans and Barneys occasionally.  But we love to read about new trends in fashion and find many of our clothes and ideas in magazines or online.  You can express yourself through a painting, as well as through an outfit.

casscontemporary.com

2722 South MacDill Avenue Tampa, FL 33629

813-839-7135