Your guide to Fort Worth's spring Gallery Night
Gallery Night has been a seasonal staple in Fort Worth for more than 40 years.
The biannual event, which is organized by the Fort Worth Art Dealers Association (FWADA), is where several galleries, museums and retail spaces across Tarrant County invite the public to visit their spaces and take in art in a more laid back atmosphere; some places offer refreshments and live music. The event is on Saturday, March 26.
Between permanent galleries, pop-ups and restaurants there are more than 30 spots outlined in this year’s guide.
One of the new additions is The Pool, a recently-opened community art space in the Near Southside.
“We’ve never had our own true community art space,” Megan Henderson, director of events and communications at Near Southside, Inc., said. “We wanted a community art space that felt like artists could really take their time. They could envision the space and have some of the tools that they needed to be supported. So we built a partnership during the pandemic when all of the festivals were canceled.”
The gallery is on the street-level of the Everly Plaza apartments on Eighth Avenue. Right now the space is hosting works from SiNaCa Studios glass artists.
Two miles north, Cufflink Art will also be opening their doors for Gallery Night.
Cufflink, which is co-owned by Doug Gault and Joey Luong, opened during the early days of the pandemic. They participated in other gallery nights, but those events were modified to stagger entries to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19.
This time around, they’re eager for the opportunity to welcome more people into the space at one time.
“We cater to people who are just now getting into the knack of collecting to people that are seasoned collectors, so we try to remove that layer of intimidation,” Gault said.
With the furniture in the space, the lighting and gray-blue walls, they’re hoping people will envision the art as if it’s in their own homes, rather than a traditional sparse set up.
Over in Camp Bowie, the cooperative art gallery Art on the Boulevard, has been participating in gallery nights since the late nineties.
Jennifer Stufflebeam from the co-op said gallery night has been an important way for them to build relationships with new customers without the pressure to buy.
“We’ve gained a lot of permanent clients from gallery nights. It’s just kind of unnerving to walk into a gallery,” Stufflebeam said.
Shasta Haubrich, the executive director of Art Tooth, also understands that it can be intimidating to walk into a gallery alone, so she got the idea to organize a bus to charter people around to different galleries throughout the night.
“I would go by myself and I would wonder, ‘Where’s everyone else going to go?’ You kind of want to hang out with people and look at art together, so you can talk about what you saw,” Haubrich explained.
“You don’t have to feel like, ‘If I’m the only person in this gallery, is that weird?’ And then you have 50 other people with you, it’s not weird. It can’t ever be weird.”
The Art Tooth bus will stop at seven different areas and its passengers will be able to see about a dozen galleries throughout the night.
For others who want to chart their own course, Shea Patterson Young, campus curator for the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and the executive director of FWADA, recommends people look at the online gallery guide early.
Patterson Young said that FWADA wants to make the event as accessible as possible.
Throughout the pandemic some galleries offered virtual tours, while others posted stills of their current works online. They also temporarily shifted gallery night into gallery week to make social distancing easier.
“We don’t want it to be an activity that people feel like doesn’t include them. It’s for artists. It’s for art teachers. It’s for students. It’s for collectors. It’s really for anyone who has an interest in that realm,” Patterson Young said.
She said it’s unique for a city to have collaboration between nonprofits, for-profits, museums, universities and private galleries. But she says that speaks to the strength of the community at large.
“I feel like it’s truly a collaboration and not a competition,” Patterson Young said. “In many cases, Fort Worth is a community that feels like a high tide raises all ships.”
This story was originally published in the Fort Worth Report.