Fort Worth artists team up on Planned Camp Bowie Gallery
By Tori S. Couch and Scott Nishimura
Photo by Olaf Growald
A trio of Fort Worth artists, who created a popular River District hangout for creatives during COVID-19, is re-uniting, planning to open a new West Side gallery this spring or summer off of Camp Bowie Boulevard.
Artist Joy Harvison purchased a 3,300-square-foot retail building at 2409 Neville St., and is gutting and renovating it with longtime collaborators Jimmy Joe Jenkins and Bradley Kent and the help of other artists. The group plans a soft opening of Studio NeVille Gallery & Gatherings as early as June, with a grand opening during Fort Worth’s Fall Gallery Night.
Harvison, Jenkins, and Kent launched their River District studio, Studio 101, during the pandemic in August 2020, exhibiting local art work, holding game nights and karaoke nights and offering classes centered on using art as a healing agent. The studio, which closed more than a year ago, also supported mental health organizations, including The Art Station in Fort Worth.
“That’s why we do it, and that’s why we’re doing it again,” Harvison said of the community the group created.
The artists want to create a similar vibe in Studio NeVille.
“I’m hoping the family we created in the River District is going to grow even larger,” said Kent, who has a graphic design background and will manage Studio NeVille’s marketing and communications.
Ideas for Studio Neville’s soft opening include a fashion show where models wear art made by local artists.
Studio NeVille will exhibit artwork from various artists and have a retail space selling handmade items, including jewelry, pottery, and glassware.
The gallery also has a classroom where community members can learn how to create their own artwork through different mediums. An additional 1,000 square feet of gallery space will allow multiple events to occur simultaneously, which was difficult in the previous location.
“We had to close the place just for the class,” Jenkins said. “It was divided in such a way that people could still hear. This is a lot more private, more conducive to an atmosphere of creativity.”
The studio will hold larger social events throughout the year, complete with food and drinks.
“We will spare no expense entertaining,” Jenkins said.
Harvison bought the building after being alerted to it by the Fort Worth painter Amy Young.
Young, who has a gallery in South Fort Worth and also is considering exhibiting at Studio NeVille, learned about the Neville space through her real estate agent. The agent showed the former dry cleaner to Young as a potential lease property.
When she brought Harvison, Jenkins and Bradley by the property, everyone agreed that it was the right space for a new gallery, the group said.
Harvison is quick to say the project is a team effort, including her co-collaborators and broader network of artists.
“I may own the building, but they (Jimmy and Bradley) are my partners,” Harvison said. “It’s a triangle. We have always been partners.”
Harvison, in response to a question, said she used “family” resources to finance the building purchase. The artists are transforming the Neville building, built in 1957. They’ve raised the ceiling and added several personal touches to the exterior.
A forest of copper trees already covers part of the building facing Neville Street. Jenkins, a noted muralist in the city, is creating a mural for the building’s side facing Camp Bowie.
“We are working on the concept right now,” Jenkins said. “It’ll be a fine art mural, a treasure for Fort Worth.”
Jenkins has painted several murals around town, including The Monkeys on the side of the Lettuce Cook’s White Settlement location and another featuring butterflies on the Pearl Snap Kolaches building in West Fort Worth.
The entrance will feature what Harvison calls two “grand doors” from the office building where she met her husband 41 years ago. She’s currently having the doors restored.
Harvison started painting in 2000 after working as a nurse. When she lost a son unexpectedly several years ago, she found even more reasons to paint and share art with others.
“My sole purpose is to honor my son,” Harvison said. Her collaborators come from their own paths that converge on healing, she said. “Each of us comes from our own journey.”
Residents in the Camp Bowie area are already buzzing with excitement as they interact with the artists while the building takes shape.
Young and Stacy McKnight are among the local artists anticipating the opening. Both artists spent time at Studio 101 and found it to be, as McKnight put it, “a safe haven” during a tough and isolating time.
“There are a lot of people waiting on them to open the doors,” said McKnight, who plans to exhibit artwork in the new gallery. “It’s not just their art. It’s the environment they will create.”
Young points out the building invites people in, as it wraps around the corners of Camp Bowie and Neville.
“Galleries can be stuffy and exclusive,” Young said. “You can tell by this building it’s going to be a magical place.”