College buddies and Jackson artists David West and Jerrod Partridge say they can’t do what they do without community.
Now the pair, who have known each other since 1995, is teaming up to create a pop-up gallery project called Art Space 86.
Their mission is to give more opportunities to emerging and established artists to get their work in front of people, all adding to Jackson’s growing art scene.
The idea is a simple one: take a vacant storefront space, set up shop a week in advance and then, as soon as the event ends, be gone and on to the next place.
“We want to be a space that is nomadic, not tied to any one location, so that we bring the work to where our audience can be,” West, a Belhaven art instructor says. “Once we’re done, we’ll 86 it (a restaurant term for pulling something off the menu) and we’ll be popping up somewhere else in the future.”
Art Space 86 will debut at Fondren Unwrapped 2013 in a location to be determined, but from there, the possibilities are endless. “We don’t have specific events in mind (beyond our opening event),” West explains. “One reason we’re opening at Unwrapped is that it’s a strong event that gets a good crowd and it’s an exciting thing Fondren does for the city of Jackson. We want to be part of that.”
West says the pop-up’s motive is driven by a sense of festivity. “We want Jackson to be a place that celebrates artists,” he tells. “Putting good work in the hands of collectors and having excitement and energy around the arts scene in Jackson is something we feel we can add to in a positive way. You can’t do that enough.”
Each and every event will have a different vibe, shaped by the space it inhabits. “A big part of the concept is that we move in the week before and try to creatively make an art space in a short period of time,” Partridge explains. “That creative response to a space is what excites us. It’s hard to describe and, until we move in, we don’t really know.” He sums up the idea as “A party based around art.”
Like their logo, Art Space 86 is playing around with a chalkboard theme. West and Partridge have talked about having a chalkboard where people can draw and sidewalk chalk for kids to play just beyond the front door. Temporary tattoos have been designed as well to help get the word out.
West says, as artists, it behooves he and Partridge to promote the community they are a part of. “Practically speaking, we’ll put some of our work in the pop-up, but overall, we started thinking about this idea because we wanted to put other artists’ work in people’s hands,” he says. “As that collective tide and excitement over art builds, we want to go with that. We think of it as being a part of a new and different way to think about gathering around and celebrating work.”
Partridge, who draws and also paints in oil, adds, “A lot of the things I have done since I started making art full time is in helping to promote and build up the art community. If I’m just here (in my studio) painting and not part of building something bigger, I won’t survive.”
West and Partridge have put together a roster of artists who they want to show. That roster will fill their hoped-for space for the first event. “At the same time, we’re interested in artists showing us their work to see if it fits,” Partridge says. “We will be selective with a curated mixture, not much different from any other gallery set up. We have that sense of what we want it to look like and the kind of work we want to hang.” West calls the selection “a diverse body, with not much homogeneity among the pieces.”
Art Space 86 wants to turn every person who comes through their doors into a serious art collector. A variety of price ranges, including a selection of pieces for $86, will allow anyone to get into collecting original artwork. West says, “The driving force behind that is, for people who come in saying, ‘I’ve never bought an original anything…I love this, I want it,” and to have something for that person.”