Farley Lewis, Fresh Gallery co-op coordinator, speaks with visitors at the February opening of a juried photography exhibit. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

With so many talented Springfield artists and makers, there’s a wealth of local art to buy for enhancing personal spaces and ourselves.

Big box store wall art versus original painting or print? No contest. Make a statement with one-of-a-kind handcrafted wearables like jewelry and scarves. And when it comes to choosing gifts, swap cookie-cutter Amazon goods for something local and hand-designed that your recipient will cherish.

Looking for an accessible place to start? Try one of these three art collectives that showcase and sell the works of established and emerging artists.

Fresh Gallery

Fresh Gallery is located at 401 N. Boonville Ave. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

Located downtown at 401 N. Boonville Ave, Fresh Gallery is an art gallery first, retail shop second. Of the three venues featured in this roundup, it’s the only nonprofit, operating as a fiscal program of the Springfield Regional Arts Council. It’s also the only one of these three to operate as a true co-op, where participating member artists (who must also be members of SRAC) pay a monthly fee and collectively operate the gallery. “If anything needs to be done, the gallery members do it,” says painter and landscape artist Farley Lewis, the elected co-op coordinator for nearly two years.

Not only does Fresh showcase the works of local artists in a gallery setting, it hosts juried art shows throughout the year. Regularly featured works of art include paintings, sculpture, photography, ceramic and woodworks, jewelry, painted furniture, glass art and more. In addition to large statement pieces, there are “small ticket” items gathering in a space they call the gift shop, Lewis says, with printed original cards, stationery items, small art pieces, ornaments, jewelry and more.

Fresh Gallery, which participates in Downtown Springfield’s First Friday Art Walk, has been part of Springfield’s art scene for roughly a dozen years. Until recently the gallery was located at the corner of Campbell Avenue and Walnut Street. When the building it leased was sold in early 2020, Lewis says, the co-op moved out while he led a team to renovate their new space a bit farther north. Fresh re-opened in its new, larger space in August 2020. Currently, more than 20 artists are members of Fresh Gallery which is accepting new membership applications. 

Lewis, who has been a member since 2017, says the mission of Fresh Gallery is to work with other businesses in the community to promote the arts. “We have an education side so that we offer education programs for people to learn how to do better art,” he says. They also provide a venue for local businesses to host small meetings or events. 

Lewis says Fresh Gallery members like and support one another, and the gallery helps to elevate, promote and sell their art. He says since joining Fresh, he’s seen a rise in his own artistic profile and sales of work. “One of the reasons people join our gallery is because they’re looking for connections to the art community,” Lewis says. 

Formed: An Artist Collective

Formed: An Artist Collective is located at 210 E. Walnut St., Suite 100. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

New to downtown is Formed: An Artist Collective, at 210 E. Walnut St., Suite 100. Formed also participates in First Friday Art Walk and will celebrate its one-year anniversary at the March event on Friday. The brainchild of two artists who participated in a fall 2020 downtown pop-up art show, Formed features around 40 artists whose colorful work in a variety of media fill every wall, tabletop and display case. 

The collective’s co-owners are Grace Huckfeldt, a painter and ceramic artist, and Laura Ingalsbe, a mixed-media artist. They didn’t know each other before the pop-up, which was held in the same Walnut Street building they now lease. A conversation between the two quickly became action, and by early 2021, they had established their permanent art collective business in the same space and held their grand opening during February 2021’s First Friday Art Walk.

Local art at Formed ranges from printed greeting cards, candles, jewelry and small giftable items to large paintings, photographs and sculptures. The space looks like both an art gallery and a very colorful boutique.

Artists pay a monthly fee depending on their space and a small commission on sales but do not help operate the business. And while Formed may showcase the works for more than one painter or photographer or craft artisan, the owners say they reduce competition by ensuring no two participating artists do work that looks too similar. 

The co-owners say people in our community not only enjoy seeing and owning art, they also want to participate in the arts. “I think there’s a need for art in Springfield. There’s a lot of artists and a lot of creative people,” Ingalsbe says.

After launching with works by several other artists from the popup, Formed continued to grow faster than anticipated — filling space originally slated for classes and studios. That’s why Friday is also the date they open a second nearby location, called Forming, at 330 South Avenue (at the corner of Walnut Street). This space will provide artist studios and much-needed space to hold art workshops and classes.

The Local Bevy

The Local Bevy is located at 617 S. Pickwick Ave. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

Located in the historic Pickwick & Cherry retail district known as Pickwick Place, The Local Bevy, at 617 S. Pickwick Ave., appears to be one part art gallery collective and one part small boutique. As with the launch of Formed and the grand re-opening of Fresh, The Local Bevy is a pandemic-era newcomer. 

The shop, owned by Andrea Petersburg, primarily sells original art and handcrafts by local creatives including jewelry, candles, ceramics, macrame, paintings and prints, woodworks and wearables. Shoppers will also find locally printed T-shirts (including some from Ozark Greenways), tea towels with funny sayings, stationary and a few retail gift items.

Petersburg, who is also a macrame artisan and custom picture framer, says 99 percent of the store is filled with items made in the Ozarks, with a few pieces by artists from Kansas City, St. Louis, or Northern Arkansas that she met while doing the art show circuit. Most art is either consigned or the artist pays a small space fee, with adjustable commissions. In a few cases — for instance, greeting cards — she buys items wholesale.

Petersburg says her art shop’s unusual name refers to a group of like-minded beings — a bevy of birds, a bevy of beauties, or a bevy (in this case) of around 30 local artists. 

The Local Bevy originally joined the art scene as a pop-up art shop in October 2020. The space Petersburg leases now was empty, and showcasing works by a variety of local artists was something she had dreamed of doing. As a handcraft artist herself, Petersburg was doing the art show circuit and then, with COVID, it all stopped.

She was familiar with the historic retail area known as Pickwick Place because she had worked at Pickwick Underground Framing nearby. When the building was standing empty, she asked to rent it for three months, opened the pop-up and started calling art-making friends: “Who wants in?” After three months, she rented the space for another six months and says it was a good way to try out her business before going all in. Next, she plans to expand with classes and workshops. 

Petersburg says the mission of her business is to celebrate the talent of local people who create original works. “Even if it’s not all just fine art,” she says. “You can bring your hand-poured candles in here and I’m going to celebrate them.” 

Where to go

Fresh Gallery

Where: 401 N. Boonville Ave.

Call: 417-862-9300

Online: freshgallery.org; facebook.com/freshgallery

Formed: An Artist Collective

Where: 210 E. Walnut St., Suite 100

Call: 417-350-1142

Online: formedgallery.com; facebook.com/formedgallery

The Local Bevy

Where: 617 S. Pickwick Ave.

Call: 417-430-1859

Online: facebook.com/thelocalbevy

First Friday Art Walk

Where: Multiple locations in and around downtown

When: 6-10 p.m. Friday, March 4 (and every first Friday of the month)

Info: ffaw.org; facebook.com/artwalksgf

Sony Hocklander

Sony Hocklander is a freelance journalist, video storyteller and photographer who produces creative content through her small solo business, Sony Hocklander Creative LLC. When she’s not telling community stories, she loves wandering the Ozarks outdoors with a camera in hand. You can follow her on Twitter @SonyHocklander and on Instagram @shocklander or email her at: sonyhocklander@gmail.com More by Sony Hocklander