For many artists, securing gallery representation can seem like an unobtainable goal.
Last year, Fort Worth arts collective Art Tooth set out on a mission to help. The group celebrates its anniversary this weekend and I spoke with one of the group’s founders, about their efforts and their future.
In addition to the artists each collective is showing, Art Tooth is selling work from 40 artists! Those 40 artists are: @abbylockett, @angelalendz, @rapidheartmovement, @caandypaint, @actart123, @austinelisabeth, Barbara Koerble, @brothersisterdesign, @ben.groff, @carrie_sometimes, @chasewjohnson, @chrisbinghamart, @dopestoevsky, Cristin Martin, Danny Bolton, Elisha Addamz, @mancinism, #gillianbradshawsmith, @gwenmeharg, @the_art_flirt, @james_lassen, @jaywilkinsonart, @madam_sloth , @secondhandsirens23, @sonavor, Jordan Ricaurte, @kstipp, Sewer Humor, @lael_burns_studio, @tiburonarte, @chellycg, @mikemoffatt, @refillmyglass, @nealblangham, @pilarcervantes13, @rachel_pie_face, Shara Hammitt, @caveslayerr, @theowlandoctopus, @tinghuangphotography, and @wyattwoodruffadams! You won’t want to miss this many artists in one spot. 👨🏽🎨👩🏽🎨👨🏿🎨👩🏿🎨👨🏻🎨👩🏻🎨
When Art Tooth began, its members thought they’d be doing two things: curating pop-up art exhibitions and teaching artists how to prepare professional materials.
But Dee Lara, Art Tooth’s executive director and senior curator, says they quickly learned that there were bigger problems than simply connecting artists to galleries.
The entire framework for supporting artists in the city needed to be addressed.
“So even to get them representation, we really had to create a grassroots infrastructure to do that,” Lara explains “We had to teach ourselves a skills beyond the art realm.”
Art Tooth co-founder Dee Lara sits down with Art&Seek’s Hady Mawajdeh for an interview about the past year, future plans and to talk about Saturday’s arts extravaganza. Listen below:
Thank you to @fortressfest for bringing such a great event to Fort Worth! And a big thank you to all the visitors and collectors who stopped by our booth at the festival, and to all the artists who participated! It was so much fun – #fortworth #art #fortworthartists #arttooth #fortressfest #thankyou
Galleries and nonprofits with gallery spaces also needed help connecting with audiences.
“I think one of the things that we’ve been most successful in doing is making people feel welcomed,” says Lara.
So the group began programming events that welcomed younger audiences into arts spaces. And they challenged ideas about how to engage with art. They integrated music, games and discussion into their shows.
The group also wanted to find money for artists. So they hosted a gala to raise funds for a micro-grant. And it wasn’t enough to give away money. They wanted to challenge the model for doling it out. So artists helped choose grant winners.
📢 ICYMI, our Art to Dine For benefit is a week from today at @brikvenue ! /// Buy tickets now for delicious food by @vicv10009, drinks from @acredistilleryllc and @cbpfortworth, 🎤 by @ronnieheart, speeches by Megan Carroll Henderson, @nancylamb1956 and @williamstuff, @notnrohtt, and @jaywilkinsonart. A special 📽by @chiptompkins. Star-studded 🎨auction hosted by @tonyeveryman featuring pieces by @arieldavisart @marshallkharrisart @deelara12 @aimeeislaimee @ben.groff @chuckandgeorge @shelby.0 @erikadooks @dannieliebergot Carol Ivy, Daniel Blagg @honeydoart @shastinalynn and @brothersisterdesign and more!! Then join us for the after party at Acre with @wizardvision 🎉/// Tickets $35-$120 link in bio /// 🎉🎉 #ilovefortworth #fortworthart #fortworthwhile #supportthearts #brikbride
“A lot of the times, the people who are selecting who to award these projects to tend to be art historians or business people,” Lara says. “So we really wanted to inject how valuable an art perspective is when deciding what projects get funded.”
From pop-up shows to micro-grants, the group’s done a lot in their first year. And Lara admits that there were times when they were burning themselves out. So now they’re thinking more strategically. They plan to support other collectives and inspire artists to start new ones.
“It’s very difficult to engage every artist in Dallas-Fort Worth directly, but we can definitely help artists who are motivated to help organize and kind of share our strategy and secrets and help them in whatever capacity they need,” says Lara.
Go see @deelara12 tonight for the @keratx State of the Arts panel at @kimbellartmuseum and the chance to see @ayeefabs and @jessiesierrahernandez work on display #Repost @kimbellartmuseum ・・・ Whether you’re coming for the panel discussion, the FREE reception afterward, or the fantastic local art on view, we know you’ll have a great time. #StateoftheArts
Art Tooth will continue to be a resource for artists. But reaching out to the general public and helping them learn more about art is also on the agenda for year two.