Photos courtesy of Fort Works Art (Current Exhibit by Jay Wilkinson)
Cowtown. Panther City. The Gateway to the West. Few cities have such a cultural juxtaposition as Fort Worth. Where else can you go see a cattle drive in the morning, spend the afternoon in a world-class museum, and then go to an international music competition in the evening? While many think of cows and cowboys when they think of Fort Worth, an increasing number of people know that Fort Worth is home to some of the best art in the nation.
Lauren Childs is a big name in the rapidly-burgeoning Fort Worth art scene. Co-owner of Fort Works Art and one of the forces behind the Fort Worth Art Dealers twice-yearly Gallery Nights, Lauren is showing local artists that is it possible to stay in Fort Worth and be a success.
A Fort Worth girl, Lauren has been an artist her whole life. At Trinity Valley, she was fortunate to study under artists Dale Conner and John Moore, but at the time, she felt that the theater was where she was meant to be. Following her dream of being an actress to Northwestern University, she soon realized that the theater was really not where she was meant to be, and so she came home.
Regrouping, Lauren enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington. There, she studied under the man she calls her mentor, Benito Huerta. Lauren became Huerta’s personal assistant. Not only did Lauren help catalogue works at the University gallery, she helped plan and execute presentations and installations. This gave her a grounding in the mechanics and business of the art world, something that young artists do not necessarily think about when starting their careers.
Lauren is the co-founder of the United Voice Collective, a group established to support various charities through pop up shows. She is also the artist behind Sandscapes Artisan Designs, a high-end specialty painting and design company. It was while designing and creating specialty art pieces for clients that Lauren started to see the art collections of her clients. Yes, Fort Worth has three world-class museums, but it also has some world-class collectors. Which got Lauren to thinking:
Why do young artists feel like they need to leave to become successful? Why couldn’t Fort Worth support a viable art scene, where artists can live and work as artists? The combination of museums, the university, and an eclectic population with money to spend should make Fort Worth a great place for artists. This lead to Lauren’s latest project.
Using the understanding of the behind-the-scenes mechanics of the art world she learned while working under Huerta, Lauren has, with Joe Wilson, created Fort Works Art. FWA is located in what used to be a magazine publishing building and is much more than a traditional art gallery. FWA provides a space for both established and up-and-coming artists to show their work to the public. There is space in back for artists to create their works. In addition, through their support of Gallery Nights, FWA is bringing together artists and non-traditional venues to bring art to an ever-increasing audience. It also allows Lauren the opportunity to help young artists learn the business of the art world while providing her the opportunity to continue creating the art which feeds her soul. All right here in Cowtown, the Gateway to the West.