New Art in the West End
Through a series of hands-on workshops pop-up exhibitions, Cincinnati-based artists Tia Brown and her husband Michael have been looking for a new permanent gallery space in the West End, to address a lack of artistic representation in that area, just adjacent to downtown Cincinnati. Now, with a year of art workshops under their belt in a variety of different locations, the couple found a small storefront at the beginning of December. The gallery is on Baymiller Street, just off of Linn, where they will create a more permanent home to continue bringing their art to the neighborhood they named the gallery for: The West End Art Gallery.
In an informal interview at the grand opening, Field trip had a chance to talk to Tia about how she and her husband got their start in the community. According to the self-taught artist, the Browns created a goal for themselves of bringing art experiences to the community where they started their lives together. They believe art helps people learn and grow in ways that are not always expected and, emphasizing the positive effect that art has brought into their own lives, they want to put that love back into their community. The Brown’s mission with their gallery is to bring a community closer together with a place to appreciate art.
Through a series of grants and donations from Artswave, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and others, the West End Gallery was able to open officially to the public on January 24. With many volunteers and donors who are also passionate about making this space a reality, the Browns were able to fix up their new location. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers and a few coats of paint, the recently leased storefront is now an art viewing space.
Walking into the new West End Gallery on their grand opening celebration felt like an entirely new art-viewing experience: a large table set up in the center of the gallery is filled with paints and cut-out wood letters, and visitors invited to sit and paint with others--fulfilling the Gallery’s mission to bring people together through art.
Two members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra played for the opening reception, and it made the mood in the room light and joyful. The space was entirely filled with people from the community: children, adults, and artists of all ages and stripes came to celebrate the opening of a new space. It was truly the amalgamation of community that the Browns value.
The current exhibition features work by three local multidisciplinary artists, Gee Horton, Tamara Johnson, and Arynn Blazer. Blazer is a practicing artist from the area whose work in the show focuses on blackwork embroidery in intricate designs. Horton, a Louisville-based self-taught painter, paints the portraits of individuals and icons accompanied with intricate background work. Johnson, like Horton, also focuses on the figure through the medium of paint and marker, seemingly finding joy in the details of her drawings. In an artist description displayed next to her work, Johnson explains she is a single mother of four, who wants to find her spot in the local community through artwork.
In this way then, the West End Gallery succeeds by helping local artists display their work. As their goals involve giving community members a chance to create artwork and talk about it, this opening proved their dedication to community and art.
In a recent interview with WCPO, the gallery owners stated that they would like to remain mobile in spite of their new location. They would like to remain accessible within the community, and have the ability to travel around the neighborhood teaching people to love and make art. Thanks to their financial support with grants, the Browns have been able to program two workshops a month with local artists volunteering their time to run them.
The West End Gallery has so far shown itself to be a wonderful space run by passionate artists who aim to give their time to help other artists. With a lot of local support and artists helping to keep the space alive, it is exciting to see what the future holds for such a lovely gallery.
The gallery is currently accepting examples of work by artists willing to run one of the bi-monthly workshops, and have asked to be contacted on facebook or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay updated on the West End Art Gallery's events through their Facebook or their website.
The West End Art Gallery held their opening on January 24th, 2018.
Written by Annabel Biernat.