Robert Blitzer has turned a West Side industrial warehouse into one of Santa Cruz’s most intriguing art spaces

In 1954, the Wrigley Company began construction on a 385,000-square-foot property on the West Side of Santa Cruz. This would become the only West Coast production facility for the ks24Chicago-based chewing gum company. Until closing in 1997, the facility produced 20 million sticks of gum a day. Today, under the management of William Ow, the Wrigley building is a mixed-use facility with everything from a storage facility for a local brewing company to home to the Digital Media Factory. Among its many diverse tenants is the R. Blitzer Gallery run by artist Robert Blitzer.

Robert grew up in a family of artists who encouraged him to follow his own creative path. At the age of 17, while in Southern California, Robert got a job for T.A. Green, a renowned metal smith. He later studied art at Santa Monica City College. After moving to Santa Cruz, Robert took art courses at Cabrillo College and pursued his interest in working with metal. As his work evolved, he became interested in the Brutalist sculptors, a style defined by the raw and unfinished look of the materials and considers himself a Post Brutalist.

Five years ago, Robert was working on a sculpture and needed a large space to complete it. Robert approached William Ow about a possible space at the Wrigley Building. William, in his characteristically, generous manner, found him an unused spot in the back of the building. After several months Robert was relocated to another space which eventually became the R. Blitzer Gallery.