Fort Works Art supporting local creative artists

Lauren Childs

Fort Works Art




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Lauren Childs began her dream to become an artist as, well, a child.

Now, as an adult she is one of the premier artists in the Metroplex and her work has been exhibited throughout Texas and New York. She has won many awards and her work is held in many private collections.

She is also a big supporter of fellow artists, regularly displaying their works in her gallery Fort Works Art, located in the heart of Fort Worth’s cultural district. Running Feb. 21-March 18 is “One Last Shot: Cordelia Bailey, One More Shot: Donnie Williams.”

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The photography exhiition features two local artists. Bailey is a 70-year-old native Dallasite national award-winning photographer with strong ties to Fort Worth. Her work falls roughly into three niches – traditional, as-shot imagery, and manipulated images designed to spark emotion. She uses photoshop in clever ways to trick the eye and make the viewer wonder what is real and what is imagined.

Williams is a 30-year-old Fort Worth-based self-taught photographer who moved here from North Carolina in 2011. He started making photos digitally in 2012 and went strictly film in 2014. His black-and-white photos focus on the details in life that we often miss moving too fast.

Childs, born in 1977, began her academic art training at age 12. She went on to study at Northwestern University and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from the University of Texas-Arlington.

She then became a personal assistant to renowned artist and curator Benito Huerta. That led her to co-found United Voice Collective, an artist collaborative, in 1999, following by her founding of the specialty painting company Sandscapes, LLC in 2004.

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Unitied Voice Collective is no longer around, but she is still the owner of Sandscapes. She uses the company for her art projects and murals. She is currently working on a mural for Trademark Properties in the new West Bend Property using Sandscapes.

In 2014, Childs co-founded her third corporation, Fort Works Art. It began as a pop up on the South Side.

The current show will also have a reception Saturday (Feb. 25) from 6-9 p.m.

Childs took a moment to visit with the “Fort Worth Business Press to discuss Fort Works Art, her inspirations, her own art, and more:

FWBP: What does it take to create a thriving gallery in the Fort Worth area and how do you keep it successful?

LC: “For myself, to create the gallery as thriving requires extreme endurance, focus, strategy, funding, and a deep sense of commitment to the arts and artists in this community and beyond. As for keeping it successful, we are new and it is a challenge for sure. I find that focusing on what our needs as a community in Fort Worth are and my own instinct on what art I find important and significant, primarily guide my choices.

“I think of what I want here as a gallery and as a place to inspire our community to be more involved and passionate about the arts. Even though I run the gallery as an LLC, it is still of the utmost importance to me to give back. We do this with the Betsy Price Annual High School Art Competition, free events open to the public, and we look forward to developing more programming to support youth and touring for all ages, always remembering to be vigilant and dedicated to having a space that is free and open and accessible to all types of individuals in our community.”

FWBP: What are your thoughts on the art scene in Fort Worth?

LC: “I find the museum contributions to our city as the foundation to what is possible to be one of the best art scenes in the nation, if not internationally. The support for the arts and the museums here has always been amazing and beyond encouraging as an artist. What we had for a short time in my late teens was many local galleries and a bustling gallery scene for such a small city. Now, we have grown so massively, and I feel like our gallery scene is way behind.

“My gallery and the small handful of other Fort Worth galleries cannot even scratch the surface on supporting all of the talent we have in this Metroplex. We have seen blood, sweat and tears pop-up organizations showcasing emerging artists in Fort Worth for years. I believe we need an influx of galleries in Fort Worth.

“I would love to see other galleries arise to support more of our local artists and create a more adventurous art scene for locals and tourists to visit. I would love to see more private funding for our commercial galleries to be able to start up in the first place.

“When I was younger, as an artist, all I wanted to do was move to a bigger city that could support my desire to be a viable and professional living artist. Now, artists are staying in Fort Worth, if not moving here to wrap themselves in this thriving community of talent and commitment to the arts.”

FWBP: Who are some of the artists from around the world with whom you have worked? How do you establish these relationships to get them to bring them work to Fort Worth?

LC: Erik Jones, Tim Okamura, Derick Smith, Alonsa Guevara, Francesco LoCastro, Douglas Hoexzema, Dan Lam, Sergio Garcia are some of the more established artists I have had the privilege to work with. But our local artists, such as Riley Holloway, Marshall Harris, Cordelia Bailey and many more keep me equally satiated from a talent standpoint. We have many heavy hitters such as Kit King, Michael Vasquez, Slinkachu, Crystal Wagner, Knowledge Bennett and so many more coming up in 2017.

“I have established relationships with many of these artists over a lengthy period of time and visited many of their studios across the globe. Some have been friends of the artists I have built relationships with throughout my life. Many are my friends.

“I think the fact that I am a working artist has really helped foster a bond and understanding, that includes a different line of relationship than most artists are used to with non-artist run galleries. While I approach things as a businesswoman, I also truly take into consideration what I would want as an artist if I was in their shoes. I want these artists to fly, and I think that mutual dream we share is what ultimately connects us.”

FWBP: Where did the inspiration for Fort Works Art come from?

LC: “The inspiration was always there from the very beginning. In 1996, at 19, my mother and I hosted a pop-up art exhibition in a room at The Botanical Gardens. It donated proceeds to The Warm Place and let the artists keep the remaining profits on all sales. This mission grew and got bigger with the creation of the United Voice Collective, in 1999. With that organization we also did two shows a year in DFW on Gallery Night. That organization ran out of steam and funding after three years. I opened a faux finishing business in 2004. That company grew and developed into one of the premier furniture, commercial and high-end residential specialty painting companies in DFW, servicing the Bush families and the Staubach family, among many more high profile art clientele.

“In 2012, after the birth of my second child, a foot break, and follow-up spiral fracture to the tibia, I was unable to keep that business going. At this turning point I didn’t know what to do, so once again in my life, I really turned to the paintbrush. I drew and painted almost every single day for one calendar year. At the end of that year, I had a very large body of work and no place to show it.

“The pop-up for me came back into my life at this time, and with more support and wisdom, Fort Works Art was born. This first exhibition of Fort Works Art at Shipping and Receiving was almost identical in mission and setup, but on a much larger scale than that very first event at The Botanical Gardens. Even the invitations, 20 years apart, were almost identical.

It was always a dream of mine to showcase my art with my friends’ work in the city of Fort Worth, which has always been my home and supported my commitment to both being an artist and now a gallerist.”

Fort Works Art

One Last Shot: Cordelia Bailey, One More Shot: Donnie Williams

February 21 – March 18, 2017

Reception: Saturday, February 25, 6:00 to 9pm

Fort Works Art presents One Last Shot: Cordelia Bailey, One More Shot: Donnie Williams, a photography exhibition featuring two local artists. This exhibition opens Tuesday, February 21 and runs through March 18. A reception will take place on Saturday, February 25th from 6:00-9:00pm.