Arts / Galleries

ArtSpace 111’s New Queen Brings Big Plans — Historic Building Turned Art Mecca’s Only Getting Bolder

Meet Ariel Davis, a Gallery Manager Who is Also an Artist

BY // 11.27.19

ArtSpace 111 is well known in Fort Worth for being a beacon of modern and contemporary art. Founded by artists and twin brothers Daniel and Dennis Blagg in 1980, the project required converting a 1911 historic building into shared studio spaces and small galleries to showcase local artists work.

It was at this space that I met with Ariel Davis, ArtSpace’s newly announced gallery manager. Davis is effervescent and her passion for art and her community is palpable. Her extensive work history reads like a who’s who of the Fort Worth art world and being an artist in her own right, she is raring to go.

However, in order to see where Davis is going, you must see where she has been.

“So many things have led me to this position,” she says.

She grew up in Fort Worth and attended the University of Texas where she graduated with a degree in art. When she moved back to Cowtown, she struggled to find work in a post-recession Fort Worth. Davis landed at Milan Gallery, a downtown Fort Worth staple, where she stayed for five years.

During the last two years, Davis was called on by Elaine Taylor to manage the Fort Worth Community Arts Center Satellite program, Art 7. In 2015, Ariel began working as the assistant to Nancy Lamb, a local Fort Worth sculptor and painter. Nearing the end of 2016, she decided to refocus on her own art, unsure of when she would have the opportunity again.

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Davis’ artwork, in many ways, echoes her own personality. She gains inspiration from strong women, evidenced in her collection, “Women Solo”, where each piece is a figurative portrait painting depicting hard working women during moments of leisure. Davis continuously uses a lot of color and line and composition to showcase the celebration of feminine strength with a focus on the female form.

At the heart of all of her work is humanity and interpersonal connection.

Fast forward to spring of 2019, when siblings Margery Gossett and Will Grella, the current owners of ArtSpace 111, opened a ArtSpace 111 pop-up in Clearfork shopping center and hand selected Davis to manage the space. Being a born and raised Fort Worthian, Davis was ecstatic to be involved with Artspace 111 and threw herself into the pop-up space.

As the pop-up’s time came to a close at the end of this summer, Grella and Gossett decided to focus on the consulting arm of the gallery and saw Davis as the natural replacement for the gallery manager role. The importance of this role is not lost on this artist.

“I’ve always loved ArtSpace and the artists they represent,” Davis says. “Margery and Will have really built up the ArtSpace 111 brand and they have put so much faith in me. I feel this is a really unique opportunity to work with such amazing artists.”

ArtSpace 111 Ariel Davis
Ariel Davis is helping taking ArtSpace 111 into all sorts of interesting directions.

Davis hit the ground running as gallery manager as Fall Gallery Night was less than a week away when she was hired. ArtSpace 111 now has two current shows, “Heavenly View” and “Family Endeavor.”

“Heavenly View” features Jim Malone, who uses a more mixed media approach to drawing and the Big Bend landscape and Dennis Farris, a Fort Worth artist and traditional oil painter who specializes in dramatic landscapes. Davis decided to add an auditorial aspect and recorded Malone reciting various poems about adventures and road trips across West Texas.

“Familiar Endeavor” is Davis’ curatorial debut at ArtSpace 111. The show is comprised of four artists: Carla Garcia, the 6th annual juried exhibition winner, Angel Fernandez, Andrea Munoz, Martinez and Ben Munoz. Through their art, they touch on their Mexican American identity and their generational experience with immigration.

Each artist brings a poignant personal narrative to this show through various mediums. The show features paintings, print making, even video and installation work, something that is relatively new to ArtSpace 111.

TEXRail Art

Davis has no plans of slowing down anytime soon, in fact she might have more irons in the fire than ever. She has been awarded a project through Fort Worth Public Art and its partnership with TEXRail. Each of the eight TEXRail stops will feature various works by hand-selected artists.

Davis was chosen to be the artist for the historic Fort Worth T&P station. Passerby will be able to see her particular project from I-30 West. Though the finish date is TBD on this project, Davis has already begun the leg work with inspiration being friends in Fort Worth T-shirts.

On top of TEXRail project, Davis has been tasked with ushering in  ArtSpace 111’s 40th year.

“Oh yes, 2020 will be a huge, amazing year, jam-packed with shows talking about the future and history of ArtSpace,” she tells PaperCity Fort Worth. “ArtSpace 111 started as artist studios and renegade shows. We’ve seen a beautiful cycle of artists that started out here in 1980 that have grown their careers and become super successful.”

Next year, ArtSpace 111 also plans on introducing an interview series, a miniature show that will showcase many of their artists making smaller works and the gallery will announce three to four new artists. Most recently, ArtSpace 111 announced that Jon Flaming, a modern folk artist, will have a solo show at the gallery, opening December 5.

In her spare time, you can find Davis in her studio working on her next project.

“I’m starting a new portrait series,” she says. “I’ll be painting live subjects that I’ve chosen in what I’m calling Sunday Sessions.”

In fact, Davis has already completed portraits of well-known Fort Worth characters Tony Green and Nancy Lamb. The art never rests.

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