Jeremy Joel has ambitious plans for Fort Worth. As we sat chatting at a West Magnolia Avenue bar, the self-described “outsider folk artist” focused on the biannual art shows he is currently organizing under his hybrid gallery concept, SAM Gallery.
In many ways, Joel is trying to push Fort Worth’s contemporary artists to think past the party-based art show formula that he himself developed five years ago under Bobby on Drums, the artist collective founded by Joel, photorealist painter Jay Wilkinson, and carpenter/wood-based artist Brandon Pederson. The first of Joel’s biannual events, Pass the Peas, will take place from 6 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Shipping and Receiving Bar. Joel has selected 18 local, regional, national, and international artists from a wide range of backgrounds to exhibit their work. Rounding out the entertainment are five local music acts.
“If our shows constantly focus on local artists, that can only last so long,” he said. “People will lose interest, and the scene will die off. You keep things fresh by bringing in new ideas and concepts. Folks need to come up from Austin. They need to come from New York City for this thing to be relevant. I want Fort Worth to be a creative destination. That’s the idea of the show.”
Joel spends a lot of time thinking about the economics of making a living as an artist, which can be surprisingly difficult in a city that boasts a population of nearly 1 million people. His first-hand artistic experience is impressive by any standard, ranging from street graffiti artist to contracted artist with a white wall art gallery. He has organized and curated shows, and he has exhaustively created paintings and murals throughout most of his adult life. What he’s learned along the way is that insular thinking is the death knell of any creative artist community. Artists, no matter where they live, are part of a collective family, Joel said.
“That’s why it’s called Pass the Peas,” Joel said, expanding on the subject. “Peas are raw vegetables that are good for you. Come into this situation, and it’s going to be like a family. People are going to feel fed.”
Joel sees meaningful relationships growing between the local and visiting artists. National art buyers will take notice of an ambitious show like Pass the Peas, Joel added. Fort Worth’s art market may need the kick in the pants. Joel believes that Fort Worth has plenty of potential buyers, but that money has historically gone to larger art markets like Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles.
“Fort Worth is kinda slow” when it comes to putting on ambitious art shows, Joel said. “I’ve been doing this for six years. [House parties] are fun and everything. That’s going to become tiresome and boring. I want to see [fellow artists] up their game. Everyone needs to raise the bar. I’m happy for the challenge. Let’s rise up.”
Joel is already planning his next event in October. That yet-unnamed event will feature photographers and videographers. SAM Gallery maintains a small crew for the events. Joel said he is working with marketing guru Jonathan Arguello, artist Shasta Haubrich, Holland Collective, and GCG Marketing to organize and promote the show. Curating a large art exhibit with a national cadre of artists seems ambitious. I asked Joel if Fort Worth was ready to host prominent artists outside of an established museum.
“If we’re not taking advantage of it, we’re idiots,” he said. “People want something new. This is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. We can’t just be doing the same shit over and over.”
“I believe we’re in the perfect time and place to do this,” he continued. “Austin is stagnant. Dallas, there are too many cooks in the kitchen. This is the perfect place to do it. I feel like this show is going to change the game as far as underground DIY shows go in Fort Worth. That’s my vision right now, to create an environment that is welcoming and to make this city a destination.”
Pass the Peas
6pm-2am Sat at Shipping and Receiving Bar, 201 S Calhoun St, FW. $10-50. 817-887-9313.