The Thompson House Shooting Gallery
EMERGING ART COMES TO NORTHERN KENTUCKY
by Jonny Boys
Jennifer Feld and I recently caught up to talk about her new space in Newport, Kentucky called The Thompson House Shooting Gallery. We talked for a while about the similarities between the art markets in Cincinnati and Portland, and how easy it is to collect art because art is relatively inexpensive due to an over-saturated market. Feld said that she’s been able to take advantage of the market and collect art from her favorite artists in the city of Cincinnati. "There’s so many artists in Cincinnati, it’s such a really saturated market and I think a lot of the artists, which I’ve seen since I’ve been running galleries, I feel like a lot of them are getting pretty discouraged and their just like not making work anymore. Which is so depressing, I hate it when artists just completely give up and they quit making work." Feld said that when she went to Utah to go to grad school to work on her arts administration degree, the only thing that she took with her on the trip out was her art collection, and when she came back from Utah the only thing she had with her was her art collection. "It’s funny when I left Cincinnati I sold everything all my furniture and stuff… I had this huge apartment and I got rid of everything because I was like I’m not carting all that stuff to Utah, and when I got Utah I just bought a bunch of really cheap furniture. And when I came back I pretty much to had my art in my car and my clothes. It’s been all over the place, I can’t live without it you know it’s like my stuff and I’ll never get rid of it and probably going get more…as I get older."
Feld told me that when she was in her interview process to go to graduate school she kept getting the question, "Why do you feel that you need to go to school for this?", And she said she didn’t really understand what it was they were getting at. And she said well I’m here to get my Masters that’s what you do, but now she says she looks back on it she thinks it was a giant waste of time. Because they did not teacher anything that she didn’t already know. "I mean I think education is important but as far as the kind of stuff we do it’s just an innate kind of thing with your gut, you can’t teach anyone how to do that. This is what you do... It’s funny because [people] try to go to school to learn that. But dealing with nonprofit stuff and art administration is more about how to grant write, it’s really not about the creative side of it, totally appreciating the art it’s more about fund raising and that part is really not fun."
While she was in grad school she ran a gallery in Utah, and she was there for about a year and a half. While she felt it was a great experience she said her heart wasn’t really in it, because it wasn’t where she wanted to be with her art career. So she decided to come back to Cincinnati to get back into the gallery work in the for-profit business because she had been working with nonprofit galleries. So she felt like she was taking work which was focused on appreciating the work rather than selling the work. And so while she learned a lot about all of the artists that are out there in the back of her mind she really wanted to get into a for-profit gallery. She heard that they were reopening the old Southgate House and they were renaming it the Thompson House.
The owner wanted to take the space in the upstairs and to transform it into a nicer gallery space as it was formerly a gallery, but the space had never been realized. Several people had formally run the space but it never had any set schedules. So the Thompson house owner approached Feld and asked her if she would like to do the gallery. And she reached out to, her now co-curator, Jen Edwards, who Feld had met when Edwards ran Krafthaus Gallery on Main Street in Cincinnati. "I really liked her type of current eye for work, which was similar to mine, we really like emerging artists, we really liked getting into stuff people hadn’t really seen before. I asked her if she would like to run the gallery with me and she said she did."
The Thompson House reopened in June as the Thompson House Shooting Gallery and had their very first show the curators felt like was a very good show. "I think that a lot of the artists that haven’t really been showing a lot are getting really excited because it’s that work, that’s out there that people really aren’t familiar with. It’s artists that really aren’t mainstream, not necessarily full-time artists, but people that are really talented," Feld said.
In July they did a printmaking show featuring the work of Derrick Riley who was a printmaker from Lexington Kentucky. He has been a printmaker for many years, and he studied under Tom Huck, who was very well known in the printmaking community. Riley is known best for his giant prints. Feld said, "I had no idea that so many people or to show up for the opening, I put out the press releases in the event on Facebook and everybody was so excited about these prints. And they were like I just had to come because I saw the prints on Facebook and I was like dude that’s so awesome. We sold a ton of his stuff which was great. Printmaking is not that big in Cincinnati."
The show that they ran in August was a themed show called “The Hunting Season”. The show was curated by Edwards which netted a great variety of interpretations on the phrase. Edwards herself showed a crocheted hunting rifle, as she does work with The Bombshells, a fiber craft yarn bombing outfit in Cincinnati Ohio. And someone bought the crocheted gun which Feld was delighted about. "There were some really cool stuff that came out of the show I was surprised. Because personally I would not have any idea where to go with the hunting season. And I just started to realize then that there were animals and people and there was a print maker who took a bunch of cans with funny sayings, on beer cans, and then he shot the print, shot at it like it was a target, so that was kind of interesting to. And Emily Caito…who works with bronze, she did a deer head in bronze."
If you would like to find out more information on The Thompson House Shooting Gallery you can find them on Facebook.