In search of a weekend hobby, J.W. Wilson found himself wandering around Cowtown’s famed Cultural District. Despite not having an artistic bone in his body, Wilson quickly discovered an insatiable appetite for art. Fast forward a few years, and Fort Worth Contemporary Art Partners was born. Wilson, along with four fellow art enthusiasts (Peeler Howell, Jadz Pate, Clayton Snodgrass, and Tim Locke), founded the partnership that will continue the 46-year legacy of Pam and Bill Campbell at William Campbell Contemporary Art & Gallery One Frames.
What does it feel like to step into the new ownership shoes of a Fort Worth institution?
It feels like a dream come true for us. We couldn’t have found a better opportunity than this one if we tried. Starting an art gallery is difficult to do but WCCA came with 46 years of experience and relationships. The key to all of this was Peeler Howell. Peeler has managed the gallery for several years and knows the business and artists very well. The pressure is now on us to continue what the Campbells have built.
How did this transition come about?
I have always respected the work Bill and Pam have done, and for years WCCA held up as my favorite Fort Worth gallery. I had an idea I wanted to run by Peeler…[and] Peeler was as excited as I was about approaching the Campbells with an offer to purchase the gallery. I then approached several friends who also share a passion for art. FWCAP is made up of locals. The group fits so well together, and all expressed mutual desire to keep WCCA as it always was, while adding a fresh set of legs to the equation. We closed the deal two days before Christmas.
Explain the mission of Fort Worth Contemporary Art Partners.
Our mission is to honor the legacy that Bill and Pam have created as we push the gallery and frame shop into the future, while adding some new artists and, likely, a second gallery. We don’t want to change a tried-and-true model that has worked for 46 years but simply add to it. We want to help the art culture continue to grow here in Fort Worth.
For the person looking to learn more about contemporary art, or art in general, where would you tell them to start?
For me, it started at museums and local galleries. Fort Worth has much to offer to those who are interested. Go experience it for yourself! Find out what type of art moves you, then dig in.
It’s an unusual time for businesses. How have you had to adapt?
The gallery world has suffered under these pandemic conditions as in-person visits have really slowed down. The online experience has partially filled the void, but nothing compares to a personal visit to a gallery. We will continue to update the WCCA website to showcase our artists in ways that are interesting.
Any big events that the public can look forward to as soon as life returns to normal?
We are currently showing a James Blake exhibit honoring one of Fort Worth’s beloved artists who passed away last summer, along with an incredible group show featuring many of our current artists. After that, one of our favorite times of year, Spring Gallery Week, will consume the gallery. We might be opening a second gallery soon to focus on larger works we haven’t previously had wall space for. We think you are going to love what’s coming!