Art Moving Forward

Art Moving Forward

Fenix Fayetteville considers culture and inclusion


“Artists document our contemporary times and have for centuries,” muses Jeanne Parham. “It is the artist voice that has transformed beliefs and shifted perceptions. So I think there is great attention being paid to what artists have to say now.”

Parham, volunteer curator for the artists’ collective known as Fenix Fayetteville, says in its 31/2 years of existence, the gallery has “proudly presented multiple exhibitions with themes addressing current social issues, such as gender identity, cultural identity, gun violence, southern revisionism and the enslaved economy, and the environment and sustainability, which have stimulated conversation and awareness.” However, she adds, now “we recognize and are addressing the need to more proactively add diverse voices to our artist community to enrich our exhibitions and more fully represent the full scope of the culture in Northwest Arkansas.

“Brush Over Green Bay” by Jan Gosnell is among works on show at Fenix Fayetteville. Other artists represented in the collective include Eugene Sargent, Hank Kaminsky, Jo Ann Kaminsky, Martha Molina, Helen Kwiatkowski and Susan Idlet.
(Courtesy Image)

“Our artist membership has grown organically, with most artist members requesting membership in Fenix after attending an exhibition or finding us online after moving to the area,” Parham goes on. “So we have to ask ourselves if we have been unconsciously thwarting inclusion of artists of color or LGTBQ artists. We have retained Dorothy Marcy, M.ED, LPC, to lead our artist members through diversity, inclusion and equity training that we may become a community of artists open and welcoming to all.”

Those goals of inclusion affect not just the artists whose work hangs on the walls, but the patrons who want to see it.

“There are many patrons of our gallery who are in high-risk cohorts or live with a vulnerable partner and will not be able to be present in the gallery,” Parham says. “It’s possible that even post-vaccine [for covid-19], an online presence will be important for a segment of our audience. I think this will be true not only for Fenix, but for most arts organizations.

“There is nothing like the emotions that arise while standing in front of a painting — that engagement is what artists are seeking,” she adds. “It’s hard to appreciate texture and subtle nuances in tone and light in online presentations of art. But to not try to reach all people, however the means, strikes me as elitist.”

To that end, Fenix will continue to provide virtual tours of upcoming exhibitions, Parham says, and is also continuing to “activate” the walkway between its location and Arvest Bank on the Fayetteville square as “a viable alternative way of showing art, outdoors.”

“We have already hosted several art experiences in this space, including Craig Colorusso’s fabulous ‘Sun Boxes,’ which were a part of last summer’s partnership with the Walton Art Center to bring Fenix’s interpretation of Artosphere to the square,” Parham explains. “Art Experience used the space to launch the now famous jellyfish parade to the accompaniment of haunting cello music. With the support of Experience Fayetteville and our benefactor and art patron, Hayden McIlroy, the stunning mural ‘Athena’ was created by Octavio Logo and Eugene Sargent. [And] our plans were to offer children’s art workshops during the Saturday Farmers’ Market, until the pandemic slowed this project.”

“Infinite Interstellar Imagination” by Jaquita Ball is also offered at Fenix Fayetteville. Other artists represented in the collective include Eugene Sargent, Hank Kaminsky, Jo Ann Kaminsky, Martha Molina, Helen Kwiatkowski and Susan Idlet.
(Courtesy Image)

Fenix also hosts what Parham calls a “one-of-a-kind mentorship program for underrepresented and underserved local artists,” also created by Logo, and plans include “new space at Fenix to house studio and classroom space which will also be used for experimental exhibitions, installations and performances.”

Meanwhile, the gallery is opening again for walk-in viewing — with masks and a limit of five visitors at a time.

“The gallery will look and feel the same, with a renewed appreciation for standing in front of a work of art,” Parham concludes. “Our new tempered pace is well suited to art appreciation.”



Fenix Fayetteville

WHEN — 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday & Friday; 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday

WHERE — 16 W. Center St. in Fayetteville

COST — Free


Categories: Galleries