Deanna “Dee” Serra founded Art for the People almost five years ago. She identifies as a collector, not so much as an artist. But she certainly has an eye for art. And her organizational prowess has allowed her to bring together a community of individuals who uplift each other. The gallery is truly “for the people,” by the people.
Non-intimidating Art Gallery
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Art for the People strives to embody accessibility and inclusivity, breaking down stereotypical notions of elitism in the art world. “Non-intimidating” is the word they use.
Serra remarked that she imagines the gallery as a library, where information flows freely and people can connect based on their passions. The gallery’s approach is also changing the way potential buyers relate to the art. Viewers are assured any lack of knowledge about a particular art making process will not be a hindrance to their enjoyment of a piece. Viewers are encouraged instead to focus on how a piece makes them feel; whether they want it in their living room; whether they can see themselves growing old with it.
Metamorphosis Over Time
Art for the People strongly identifies with the symbolism of the butterfly and its transformative nature. On either side of the building are murals created by two artists, Hannah Natali and Vincent Box. The murals depict a chrysalis hatching and turning into a full-grown butterfly, which eventually takes flight.
This metamorphosis perfectly represents the organic transformation the gallery has undergone since its start. It’s an especially accurate illustration of the way Serra bonded with her current business partners.
Serra works closely with Lynnie Goodman who is the creative director and curator, as well as an animal behaviorist. Hallie Rae Ward, a multimedia artist who serves as the gallery’s business director, completes the power trio of women.
The team gravitated together naturally. Goodman was Serra’s first employee, and stuck with the gallery through all of its changes. A little later, Ward joined the group; she was Serra’s neighbor at the time.
Ever-changing Art Selection
Art for the People works closely with more than 100 local artisans. With so many creators contributing to the marketplace, you can be sure there’s always a fresh selection of goods. The online store, launched in April 2018, started with 40 items available for purchase.
The selection has since grown to 1,200 items and includes everything from original art, to jewelry and ceramics–even snacks made by Austin food and beverage companies! Gift certificates are now available. So if you’re not sure what to get for a loved one, they can choose for themselves.
In early 2018, the game changed when the gallery started putting out open calls for art. Although the gallery was already amongst a constantly evolving landscape of art, the open calls added a new vibrancy and allowed many new artists to participate.
Open Calls for Art
The themes for the open calls are open-ended, allowing a flexible interpretation for the artists submitting. For example, from the 49 artists selected to be shown for the current exhibition “Let’s Take A Walk,” there are landscapes, a scene from outer space, and photos of architecture in Barcelona.
Art for the People also doesn’t put a cap on submissions based on numbers. In this way, it’s much less strict than other galleries. Bu it’s still a selective process, in the sense that art is chosen based on energy and how one piece plays off the pieces surrounding it.
If you’re an artist looking for additional methods of sharing your work, consider submitting to one of these open calls. The current deadline for the theme “Celebration” ends Monday, Dec. 31, 2018.
Art for the People’s Non-profit Work
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According to the gallery’s website, a large part of its mission is to “support local businesses, non-profits, and causes through special events, as well as raising awareness and fundraising.” Art for the People is known for collaborating with Art From the Streets, a program that supports artists in a transitional or non-stable living situation. The team has also worked with Austin Pets Alive! and Central Texas Food Bank during Hurricane Harvey to help provide relief.
It’s a good feeling to support a business that gives back.
Peruse the online store or check submission guidelines for the current open call on Art for the People’s website below.
1711 S. 1st St. – Website
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