Art For The People

Art For The People

Trailside Village joins conversation May 2


There is little doubt that Northwest Arkansas is experiencing an art boom: With Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the region has a nationally known art institution in its back yard. The University of Arkansas’ School of Art is expanding by leaps and bounds. And Fayetteville voters recently approved a plan to develop a cultural arts corridor. But what does this boom mean to the local working creative? Artist Kat Wilson has been an outspoken advocate for finding more opportunities for Northwest Arkansas artists to make a living. That’s one of the reasons she and a coterie of artists whose studios are located at Trailside Village — an artists’ complex located on Center Street in Fayetteville — launched First Thursdays Open Studios.

“It was inspired by the fact that there’s so much talk about building the arts corridor and artists’ studios, but here we are sitting right in the middle,” says Wilson about the idea behind the Open Studios event. “Every one of us real, living, working, hustling, artists already existing in the proposed arts corridor. I believe every one of us applied for the [Artists] 360 grant, and none of us got one. Does ‘working artist’ mean you have to be an incredible grant writer? Does ‘working artist’ mean you have to have an MFA or any degree? I think everyone at the huts are hustlers and do whatever they can to sustain their art practice. We are community builders, and we’re not going to be left out of the conversation.”

Even before opening their studios to the public, Wilson points out, these artists have been making contributions to the community. Interacting with the public through First Thursdays is an opportunity to emphasize those contributions to those who might not be paying attention to the names behind the art.

“Just think about how much time Dillon Dooms alone donates to the community decorating your events with glitch videos and sound,” says Wilson. “Trisha Guting is about to host a whole festival this weekend at Trailside. Robert Gordon just recently moved to town from upstate New York and is already highly involved with Fenix Gallery and supporting other artists. Sasha just dropped a new clothing line and, let’s face it, that’s great for the style of Northwest Arkansas. Samantha Sigmon of Backspace, for the past six years, has organized, curated, and is now a publisher — all to bring art to the community. This list goes on and on for the Trailside Village tenants.”

Wilson has big plans for her own studio for First Thursdays, and those plans include a new, monthly #SelfieThrone — an elaborately designed chair where visitors can pose for pictures as “they become the art,” says Wilson. May’s #SelfieChair is actually a collaboration.

“[It’s going to] be the illuminated throne amped up with tons of LED lights and neon by Brian Bailey. It should be a crowd pleaser.”

Though his studio isn’t at Trailside Village, Bailey says First Thursdays are still an important event in his eyes .

“Art is for everyone. Art, music, food and really awesome loving people. If you have never been to a First Thursday, it’s quite an experience, and I would encourage everyone to engage. I love people. Showing art is great, [and] interacting with people is my passion.”

Those attending First Thursdays at Trailside Village will have the opportunity to purchase art: Wilson, for example, will be selling art from several of her popular series, including the Emojis, Layers and Habitat series. Wilson hopes that this shopping, along with the prospect of a good time, will be enough to encourage attendance.

“Drinks in my studio will be provided by the flavor saviors Pink House Alchemy, who always bring the sugar to the people,” says Wilson, and then adds, “I don’t make art for myself, I make art for the people. But after spending the last 20 years lugging, shipping and trucking my work, I’m excited to have the people come to my space.

“It’s no secret, anyway; we throw a damn good party at the huts.”



Trailside Village

First Thursdays

Open Studios

WHEN — 6 p.m. May 2, and then every first Thursday

WHERE — Trailside Village, 546 W. Center St., Fayetteville

COST — Free

INFO — Email

Categories: Galleries