Friday, September 23, 2011

A love letter to the Fayetteville Underground

Having a studio outside my home had always been a goal of mine, an expensive dream that would most likely remain impossible. Having a studio meant that I could close the door on my daily life and go to work like the rest of the world. It would be a place dedicated to the making of art, a place where messy dreams come to life and where drips of paint on the floor and walls were welcomed. A place for patrons to check in and see works in progress and develop a relationship with me as an artist. This is what I had wanted for so long and this is what I got. In April 2009 I moved into a small studio at the Fayetteville Underground in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The Fayetteville Underground was just forming at the time, taking the basement of a mostly vacant bank building on the somewhat empty downtown square. It was a big experiment, an idea to have four galleries and fifteen working artist studios and a classroom. A dream to make Fayetteville an arts destination and help to boost the economy and desirability of the town.

When I initially signed my lease I thought of it also as a personal experiment. I was a little concerned that the other studio mates might be a distraction or that I would feel nervous working in a group environment. I would be giving up the windows of my attic studio and it also meant I would be changing my schedule and how I worked as an artist. I had been the type of painter that would roll out of bed at three in the morning to paint and I worried if working in this more formal environment with the more regular hours would hinder my creativity. It took a long time to get used to the sounds of the building, the manufactured air and the remnants of bankers and their offices. I'd also be lying if I didn't mention that it took time to get used to my fellow studio mates comings and goings, music and moods.

To top off the studio experience there were the four galleries to fill and regular hours to keep and the whole act of helping to create what has now become one of the premier arts organizations in the state of Arkansas. When I look back and remember how The Underground was when it started and how far it has come over the last two and a half years it is astonishing. Being a part of the Fayetteville Underground has been one of the greatest adventures and accomplishments of my life.

I have been able to work with some of the most amazing people and my studio mates have become my family. We celebrate together and we share our sorrows too. We talk about our big ideas as well as our tangents that quickly burn out. We have supported each other through the thick and the thin. Many of us had studios before the underground as well as gallery representation, but we didn't have this team of fellow artists behind us and we didn't know what we could achieve as a collective body. We have brought local, national and international artists and their exhibitions to Fayetteville. The underground artists consistently create and install quality exhibitions month after month.

I believe I have done some of my best work of my career during my time at the Fayetteville Underground. I think it has to do with the freedom and excitement that comes from working around other like minded artists. Our work improves as we are not working in a vacuum and have a built in audience that arrives each month during our First Thursday artist receptions. It is reassuring to know that someone will see our work, even if it is just a piece in progress in our studios. And that brings me back to First Thursday. I remember the first few and then suddenly the crowds! Suddenly it just took off and we were hosting 1000 people at the Underground a month! It was a thrill to feel the swell of people and to absorb their support and enthusiasm for the art we were providing them. Suddenly the empty square started filling up with new businesses and the empty bank building wasn't so empty anymore. We were starting to accomplish our goals as an organization and people were starting to take notice.

This did not happen over night and it was not easy, it took many meetings and much organization to create what the Fayetteville Underground has become. The Underground is about one thing and one thing only, and that is art. When rumors were flying about our lost lease we kept working, we kept doing what we do best, to bring the best in visual art to the city of Fayetteville. We kept having our studios open. our First Thursday receptions and we kept smiling (most of the time). We kept sharing our experiences of what the Fayetteville Underground has meant to us or what great show we were bringing next, or our next big body of work in progress.

My studio is my haven, my safe place in this world. Where I can float away into my art and bring forth new ideas to share with the public and my fellow artists. The family I have made there is special to me and we believe strongly in the value of what we do. This is our life and our livelihood. We will have to be out of our current building by January 15th and we have been a nervous wreck as a group ever since we found out this sad news, but we are a united group and we hope to find a new home for our studios and galleries.

Our lives have been deeply touched by all those whose talent, skill, and generosity has helped to create the Underground. I am not the same person or artist I was when I signed my lease in 2009 and I can't wait to see what this next incarnation of the Fayetteville Underground brings not only to the artists but to Fayetteville. 

Viva la Underground!

In other news: My exhibition Sometimes I love you and other stories closes on October 1. So please go see it at the Vault Gallery at the Fayetteville Underground before it does. Gallery hours are W-F 12-7 and Saturday 10-5. I am grateful for the support this exhibition has received!

I am also having a special sale of the color paintings in my studio. All of these works are half price until September 30th! Learn more about that here. If you have any questions about my sale please email me at

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The rewards of saying yes

Mixed Media on Canvas
© 2011 Megan Chapman
Being an artist is a thrill, you just never know where this profession will take you. I have been incredibly lucky to have gracious patrons that have passed in and out of my life over the years and I always enjoy meeting new ones and learning their stories and interests. This week I went on a little adventure with some patrons and it was such a fun experience I thought I would share a little bit of it here.

Sharon and Gary are artists as well as patrons of mine and artist Stewart Bremner. Besides painting, Stewart is currently photographing a series of vintage and classic cars and our patrons have been following along vicariously with his project. Sharon kindly suggested we connect with Gary and his collection of cars.

So Stewart and I made arrangements and off we went! This past Wednesday was all about cars and spending time with lovely people talking about cars. We drove around the neighboring towns in NW Arkansas and the cars were as beautiful and impressive as were the people we encountered.

I just wanted to remind myself about the wonderful connections that come from being an artist. It is all apart of being connected to something bigger than yourself and saying yes to opportunities as they present themselves. Passion is contagious whether it is the passion for restoring old cars or creating art. Wednesday was a wonderful day that I won't soon forget, and all brought to me by art!

Thank you Sharon, Gary and Don for sharing your time, your cars, and your passion with us.

In other news, my exhibition Sometimes I love you and other stories is on display for the remainder of September at the Fayetteville Underground in the Vault Gallery. Gallery hours are W-F 12-7 and Sat 10-5. I am very proud of this body of work and overwhelmed at the response this work has received. If you have not already seen the show, please don't miss it.

For an in depth look at some of the story behind the show and some more about me, you might want to read this recent profile by Haley Ray, a journalism student of the University of Arkansas. You can read it here. I was really pleased that she contacted my mentor/professor Ron Graff from the University of Oregon for a quote in the piece.

Tomorrow, Saturday September 17th I will be participating in a meet the artists event at the Fayetteville Underground from 10-1pm with fellow studio mate Linda Sheets. We will be on hand to discuss our work in more detail and in a more intimate setting than a typical First Thursday. If you are local or regional I hope you can drop in and learn more about our exhibitions.

Also for the next two weeks only, I am having a special sale of the color paintings in my studio. All of these works are half price until September 30th! Learn more about that here. If you have any questions about my sale please email me at

Friday, September 9, 2011

As the world slides by

Sometimes I love you and other stories is off to a very strong start! Two more pieces sold last Saturday and another on Monday. A total of seven paintings have found new homes in the first week of the show! I am beyond pleased and so grateful for everyone's support.

As I often do, I gave myself permission to take some time off and just absorb the body of work I have created. I let myself enjoy seeing it in the gallery and I just spend time with the work and simply being in my studio but without the pressure of having to create anything. I don't think about the next series or direction. Now is not the time for that.

Today I went for a long drive in the meandering country side, listening to music and I just let the world slide by.

Don't forget to do this. Take the time, refill the well and celebrate what you have accomplished. And as always keep fighting...

Sometimes I love you and other stories is in the Vault Gallery through the month of September at the Fayetteville Underground. Gallery hours are W-F 12-7 and Saturday 10-5. If those hours don't suit you, feel free to email me at and I can open the gallery for you by appointment.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sometimes I love you...

Sometimes I love you and other stories from stewart bremner on Vimeo.
Sometimes I love you... a short film by Stewart Bremner.

Oh what a week! Last night, Sometimes I love you and other stories opened at the Vault Gallery in the Fayetteville Underground. It was a lovely night, the crowds were amazing and the show looked great. I am happy to report that the evening concluded with four sales as well!

my paintings on the vault gallery walls

I am very proud of this exhibition and of myself for taking some risks in order to create the work. The glowing white paintings came together perfectly and transformed the gallery. The patrons who came to view the show last night were very receptive and their comments validated what I had to hoped to accomplish with this show. These works are my story and are intimate but at the same time they communicate something all of us feel and can relate to. The responses and stories I heard from people were also intimate and this was very special and moving to me. I heard stories about long distance relationships and new love, as well as from an older man who had just lost his wife. The words in one particular painting echoed his longing for and thoughts of her. Overcome with emotion, he was barely able to speak as he pointed to the painting that reminded him of his lost love. I soon became unable to speak as well. That moment in the night is one that I will hold close and remember always, his response was a gift to me and somehow my art was a comfort to him.

Last night was also a lovely reminder of how special the Fayetteville Underground is and how vibrant Fayetteville's art scene has become. The conversations, the interactions and the sheer number of people that attend First Thursday at the Underground is astounding. I feel very fortunate to live and work where I do and very proud of what I have helped the Underground achieve. My work has grown and expanded so much in the time I have had my studio at the Underground and my scope and reach within the art community both locally and internationally has as well. I am fortunate and grateful.

If you missed the opening of my exhibition, it will be on display throughout the month of September and gallery hours are W-F 12-7 and Saturday 10-5. Click here to listen to an interview on our local NPR station about the exhibitions at the Underground this month. If you have any questions about these works or would like to contact me personally about them or arrange for a tour of the show please don't hesitate to email me at

my paintings on the vault gallery walls

Thanks to all my friends near and far, my family, my art supporters and patrons. Thanks to my family of artists at the Fayetteville Underground. Thanks to Rodney Wilhite for the loan of his wonderful typewriter.

Love and thanks to Stewart Bremner for doing the impossible.