The monthly First Thursday art walks on the Fayetteville square are always a good time, but as some have probably noticed, something has been missing from the events this season.
Fayetteville Underground artists lost their lease last year on the basement space they occupied on the downtown square, leaving the group who helped found First Thursday without an exhibition space during the monthly event.
That will change next month when the group holds its first show at the new Fayetteville Underground gallery and studio space at 101 W. Mountain St. on the southwest corner of the square.
“We’re so glad to be back,” said Fayetteville Underground artist Sabine Schmidt. “This show will be a ‘sneak peek’ show, and all of the member artists will exhibit work. Then we plan to have our grand opening in September.”
The new space is made possible in large part by a $55,000 award the group received from the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission earlier this year.
“We need them back here,” said A&P commissioner Bob Davis. “I think it’s vital to the city of Fayetteville, especially on Thursday nights.”
Artist Hank Kaminsky said the artists are extremely grateful for the A&P funds, and have done much of the renovations on the new space themselves.
“We talked about hiring an architect, and getting some help to do all this, but we decided we wanted to make that money stretch as far we can,” he said.
Schmidt said that Kaminsky, along with artists Jan Gosnell, William Mayes Flannigan, and others have logged hundreds of hours working on the new space.
The new Fayetteville Underground will be smaller than the area it occupied inside East Square Plaza, but will still house four exhibition spaces, 10 artist studios, as well as office space for the organization.
In addition to the new space, Schmidt said that the organization has a new board of directors in place, and will debut some new ways for the public to support the gallery.
“We’re going to have artist members of the Underground like before, but for the first time ever, we’re going to have public members as well,” she said. “The membership fees are $25 a year, and members will see several benefits such as early access to shows.”
Schmidt said more information about the new programs and memberships will be available at the Aug. 2 show.
The “sneak peek” show will feature a variety of paintings, sculpture, photography, pottery, jewelry, and other arts and crafts from Fayetteville Underground resident artists. Those artists include Cheri Bohn, William Mayes Flanagan, Jan Gosnell, Mike Haley, Susy Siegele, Don House, Becky Johnson, Hank Kaminsky, M.M. Kent, Sharon Killian, Martha Molina, Doug Randall, Sheila Richards, Sabine Schmidt, John Sewell, and others.
“This is going to give us an opportunity to see how things go, and how the new space works,” said Schmidt. “We’re excited to work out the kinks, and to get ready for our grand opening in September.”