Made in Fort Worth: Fort Works Art
Fort Worth is has become a place for artists to come to explore their talents. This is, in large part, due to the efforts of Lauren Saba. Co-owner of Fort Works Art, one of the forces behind the Fort Worth Art Dealers’ twice-yearly Gallery Nights, and a leader in the Fort Worth art scene, Saba is showing local artists that is it possible to stay in Fort Worth and be a success.
Madeworthy: Tell us about Fort Works Art and your role in growing young talent?
Lauren Saba: Fort Works Art began as a pop-up show in 2014 when there were limited resources for artists to show their work… There is now a tremendous number of new spaces showing local artists, and [Fort Worth] has become quite a wonderful city to live and show your work in… our role in the cultural makeup of this city has changed. We are focused on doing fewer but larger and more ambitious projects.
Offering an environment for individuals to come and interact with art is another direction… Our goal is to create temporal installations that you have to physically attend and are not going to be shown somewhere else… art that is created by living artists who understand how to fill a space and think outside of the box.
MW: You created Gallery of Dreams in 2017 to bring artists together to address social, political, and cultural issues. Have you seen your vision come to life in the way that you have imagined?
LS: We have brought wonderful projects to fruition. During the pandemic, we partnered with local organizations and individuals to give out over $300,000 in grants to artists and musicians… it was a wonderful community resource during a very difficult time.
[Another program is] the Mayorial High School Art Competition exhibition… Every year, local students are selected to exhibit their work in a white wall gallery with a reception in their honor and cash prizes… The validation that the students get… leaves me with tears in my eyes. It is powerful.
The A.I.R. (Artist-In-Residency) program brings artists in to create work in our space… the program allows the community to see art being made and allows them to communicate directly with the artist. Crystal Wagner just installed an incredible environment… We paired her with four local female artists, and what they created in 12 days is breathtaking…
MW: Where do you think Fort Worth’s art scene is headed in the next part of the 21st century?
LS: We’ve seen a lot of growth in how our community supports local artists – exhibiting artworks and creating murals for our city. We are still behind, however, in supporting these artists reach outside of our community. Being a living and working artist is very challenging… artists need to be able to sell their work, apply for grants, and participate in residencies to support their careers. This cannot be done in one city.
MW: Which artists have you seen grow and succeed, and why do you think that is?
LS: Dan Lam, Riley Holloway, and Austin Uzor are three artists that come to mind. Their trajectories have been nothing short of a dream to watch. They have all gone on to sell their work and show internationally, and recently Lam did a large-scale artwork at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas… they all have the work ethic, commitment, and passion that are required for this type of success. They also all are extremely focused and set goals for their futures…
MW: Tell us about Art Worth, the new fine arts festival coming this October.
LS: Greg Belz is bringing this new festival to our city, and it is very focused on craft. I am thrilled to have this coming, as craft artists are not supported on the level I would like to see locally. This is a big step forward…
MW: Fort Worth has become an incubator for all sorts of artists. What is it about this city that allows artists to thrive here like they might not in other cities?
LS: This is an easy one. Fort Worth has more access to museums, artists, musicians, creators, organizations, and arts patrons than any other city I’ve been in. It opens doors for artists… this tremendous dedication to supporting culture is a very special thing, and it is truly unique to Fort Worth.
Wonderful article about an amazing woman. We are so lucky to have her talents and energy in Fort Worth.