New Year New Faces
By Meda Kessler
Photo by Ron Jenkins
William Campbell Contemporary Art: The name stays the same, but new owners are planning on big things for the iconic gallery
Buying an art gallery might not have been on everyone’s to-do list for the new year, but five people have updated their LinkedIn profiles as new owners of William Campbell Contemporary Art.
We met briefly last month with them at the gallery — yes, the name remains the same — which has been an integral part of the Texas art scene for 47 years. The sale was completed at the end of 2020, and the keys were handed over to J.W. Wilson, Peeler Howell, Tim Locke, Jadz Pate and Clayton Snodgrass. While their backgrounds vary — Wilson, Howell and Snodgrass all attended Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth — what they share is a love for and appreciation of art.
The gallery itself, a cozy two-story building in a Fort Worth neighborhood, has long been a destination for art lovers and collectors. Founders Pam and William Campbell also built a roster of talent from around the country. Gallery Night events at WCCA always drew a packed crowd; show openings, pre-COVID, offered guests a chance to talk one-on-one with the featured artist in an intimate setting.
The new leadership plans to do more of the same. Wilson, who is one of the original founders of contemporary gallery Fort Works Art, and Howell are the driving forces. Wilson says he wouldn’t be doing this if Howell hadn’t signed on. A familiar face at WCCA, Peeler has managed day-to-day operations at the gallery for the past three years. He also studied art at TCU and continues to paint today. “We want to continue to cultivate the relationships that Bill and Pam have created with the artists, clients and customers. They’ve been ideal mentors, and will continue to be so.”
Wilson says his art appreciation came about thanks to golf. “All my friends played, but I had no interest. I decided to visit galleries and museums instead.” He says he knew immediately whom he wanted to be part of the group when gallery ownership looked like it might become a reality.
Fresh eyes and energy are a must in any business. Introducing art to and encouraging art appreciation for a new generation are prime goals of the new ownership. Tim Locke is the group’s thoughtful everyman. While better known for his music, this Austin native has been painting since he was 6. “Like everyone else, I went to Gallery Night here. It feels good to be part of this group; I want to learn more, too.”
Clayton Snodgrass, a real estate investor, lives in Dallas but is still deeply connected to Fort Worth. The art scene is part of the reason. “I was talking to J.W. on the phone, and this deal came up. I said yes before he even finished talking.”
Jadz Pate, a former creative director for Neiman Marcus, says she always wanted to be an artist. Today, she surrounds herself at home with artwork. “Art is such a wonderful way to make your house special. I want to help people, especially new collectors, make an emotional connection to a great piece.”
A new website and new shows are in the works, but patrons aren’t likely to notice a drastic change. “We’re carrying the Campbells’ legacy forward and honoring their past,” says Wilson.