Address: 546 W. Center Ave., Fayetteville, AR 72701
Contact: Donna Smith and Angelina Bowen
Phone: 870-219- 5182
Open Hours: By appointment and monthly reception
How is the project operated?
The space is artist-run in the sense that Angelina Bowen and I are both artists in addition to working full-time jobs and it is mostly self-funded. Since the space is small, we decided to run it ourselves, which gives us flexibility with the artists we would like to show and work with, the timing of exhibitions, and the funding of the space.
How long has it been in existence?
The Shed has been open since January 2013, so just over three-and-a-half years now, which is pretty fantastic! We’ve shown at least one artist a month from the time we’ve opened to now.
What was your motivation?
When I was an undergraduate at Rhodes College, one of my mentors, Hamlett Dobbins, opened up a space in his home to show work. The space, known as Material, was an inspiration to me as an alternative way to show work that may not be able to exist in a museum setting or commercial gallery. After I finished my MFA and moved to Fayetteville, it was always a hope of mine to be able to start a space with the same spirit here, and luckily, Angie was a friend and artist that wanted to be involved!
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
Angelina Bowen and myself, Donna Smith, founded the space when we were looking for a space that could serve as both a studio and an exhibition space centrally located in Fayetteville.
How are programs funded?
While we had considered forming The Shed as a non-profit, we just aren’t quite large enough in our opinion to do so. It just being run by Angie and I, we like the freedom and the ability to do things in our own way and on our timeframe. It also gives us the option to have artists show that might not be ready to sell work and offer us a commission. We are fortunate that we have our own funding to run the gallery and not have to worry about outside funding, although, we certainly do accept donations and are actively seeking out grant opportunities.
Who is responsible for the programming?
Angie and I both are approached by local artists that we meet out at other exhibitions, or look through submissions sent to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and our facebook page. Usually, we are quite open to a variety of mediums and work, ranging from video to installation to performance and everything in between. What we really want is to work with artists that have new work to be shown, or are trying out new ideas. The space is a great arena to workshop new pieces, that artists may still be working on or flushing out ideas too. It’s also fairly small, so a person does not have to have a huge amount of work prepared in order to have a show.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
The Shed has hosted 10-15 solo and group exhibitions a year since we opened, with some events being pop-up shops, holiday markets, and other performances.
What kind of events are usually organized?
Typically we host solo exhibitions, but also have hosted group shows and collaborative work, even hosting outside work like the most recent Inverse performance art festival, podcast interviews and installations between musicians and artists.
How is your programming determined?
For our programming, we are quite open to submissions and ideas. We usually plan shows about 2-3 months out from the opening to insure the artist has time to prepare work and think about the space for installation. Variety is also important to us, so we try to space out shows so we don’t have the same medium for several months in a row, or the same subject matter. That way, there is a different group of visitors that gets to experience The Shed differently than the shows previously held, and the area gets to encounter new work and new artists each month.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
We absolutely do! I would say over half of our shows come from artists emailing us or asking if they can show at the space. The other percentage comes from our seeing work out in the area and approaching the artist in person or online to see if he or she would be interested in exhibiting work. What is your artistic/curatorial approach? The Shed was named after thinking about the tools and actions that go into making work. The finished product comes from so many failures, realizations and trials, and these processes seem to be kept in a studio space and not generally shown to the public. For us, it’s important to create a relationship with the artists to let them know that we are an experimental space for them to show work and that, it’s really a place to try new installation ideas, and to get the work out for discussion. It’s okay to not have it all figured out, that’s part of the process. We also like to show a variety of mediums and ideas. We’re not just focused on one area or theme. The Shed is a place for artists in Northwest Arkansas to exhibit work at whatever stage and receive constructive feedback and exposure in the community.
What’s working? What’s not working?
Well, haha, we could all use more of a financial cushion, right? That’s probably what most spaces struggle with and the other would be having a consistent way to have artists paid for their work and time. We do have some artists sell works during the opening exhibitions, but it’s not a constant. We also wish we could have the space open more during the day, perhaps with a more interactive online presence too, where people could explore the work we show. But, it’s still fun. The way we run the space is not dictated by anyone but ourselves. If we want to change something, or if an artist wants to have a different sort of opening or show experience, we are certainly open to exploring alternative methods. I think people see us as a very collaborative space. We give the artist a lot of freedom and they respect that.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
We want to be an approachable source for emerging artists that may have never exhibited work and to help those artists, as well as more seasoned artists to feel they have a place to try out and see new works. Also, we want the community to feel excited and comfortable visiting the space and shows, to learn more about those making art in our area and experiencing new and growing artists in our area.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
In just the last few years, we’ve noticed a huge surge of interest and opportunities for artists, both in the large institutions and smaller self-run spaces and galleries in the area. I think as the region grows and the area becomes more aware and cognizant of how important the arts are to the continual growth of Northwest Arkansas, we’re going to attract and retain more and more makers, which will affect how the arts are funded, seen, and enacted for the years to come.
Images courtesy of The Shed.