Saturday, December 17, 2011
The studios at the Underground are coming apart at the seams, the brushes, canvases and easels are being packed away. Tables moved and disassembled, the spaces we came to know as the studios of our peers are not the same. They are becoming the empty basement office spaces that they once were. The mark we left on One East Center is being erased as the artists pack up their studios just before the holidays.
I can say "when one door closes another one opens" and I can hope it is true. I can put a positive spin on it in the news and say we will be back in January in a new space, bringing you the same great art and artists that you have come expect from us for over the past two and a half years. But I honestly can't be sure. Where is the group of artists that became known as the Fayetteville Underground going? Where is the door that is about to open? I don't know. There are options, there are dreams, and there is reality.
Many of us worked very hard to bring the city something that the citizens and the artists seemed to want, need and appreciate and I am truly saddened that it was cut short by no fault of the artists or our landlord. It was an amazing run and I have never been more proud to be affiliated with an organization.
Who knows what will happen with the artists of the underground. Many will move back home to their abandoned extra bedrooms, attics and basement studios because it is easier than not knowing where they are going, and it is a way for them to control their own destiny. A few will stick together and continue trying to build the Fayetteville Art Alliance, trying to find studios together and manning a gallery, perhaps recruiting new artists into the fold and attempting new strategies. Some will just take a break and stop producing art for a while or perhaps look for gallery representation elsewhere. Perhaps there is space for some in the Old Post Office basement. As artists we may fragment and splinter yet there will be a tie that connects us, our time at the Fayetteville Underground.
The Fayetteville Underground taught me so much about people and it helped me become fully invested in my community. Working with many other organizations and groups was exciting and beneficial for all involved. Getting to know so many of the artists throughout the community was wonderful as well. I met people just like me who worked hard to create the work they needed to, in order to be true to themselves. Many amazing artists passed through the gallery doors of the Fayetteville Underground during these years. It was an honor to meet and get to know not only their work but them personally. We shared a lot of ups and downs together as a family, such as illnesses, separations, divorce, money troubles, depression, anxiety, artistic blows, blocks, and more than a few parking tickets! We also shared new love, special commissions, big sales, artistic triumphs, new visions and opportunities, inspiration and many bottles of beer, glasses of wine, and good meals in the restaurants and bars around the square.
I can't stand to see my artistic family fragmented. It is sad to see us come ungrounded and lose the vision that we as a team so brilliantly executed for so long. If I am willing to dream big, I hope we rise to this challenge and create something new, perhaps something never seen here before. Something perfect for this sweet town of art lovers and buyers. Studios on one side of town and a gallery on the other? Pop up shops in abandoned buildings? Take over a motel and turn it into a gallery for a week? Take the basement of the Old Post Office by storm creating a new hot spot? Retreating to the calm of Mt. Sequoyah and hoping that the patrons will follow?
I love these big plans and big dreams. One of my big dreams came true when I rented my studio at the Underground in April of 2009.
From my Journal:
Monday 20 April 2009: Studio 19
I have just returned from the leasing agent's office and I now have a key to my very own studio space downtown. I can't wait to move in and paint. This is so much more than just a key to me...
I guess it is time to wake up now. I have some boxes to pack and a studio door to close one last time and soon.