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Hoosier Artist Gallery

More than a decade ago Anabel Hopkins had a dream of creating an artist-owned art gallery in downtown Nashville. With her dream in hand, Anabel attended an Art Alliance meeting and pitched the idea to longtime friend Ruth Wert. 

“We passed the word around and before long we had our founding eight member/owners,” Ruth said. “With eight members, we knew we could afford the lease, so we signed on our first location and opened the gallery.”

The first location of the Hoosier Artist Gallery in Nashville, which opened in 2007, was cramped and didn’t have a bathroom or a closet— but Ruth and Anabel were delighted to have made their dreams a reality.

“Several artists came to us and wanted to join, but the space wasn’t big enough,” Anabel said. “Before very long at all we knew we were going to need to find a bigger space.”

In 2009, the gallery moved to its current location, 45 South Jefferson Street. 

“The space is wonderful. We can feature more than 20 artist/members,” said Anabel, a painter who specializes in landscapes as well as abstract and expressionism. 

To become a member of the cooperative gallery, an artist must be juried in. They must bring in the work they would like to sell and must answer questions from current members. The current members then vote on whether they will accept the potential member. 

“We are looking for artists whose work does not duplicate current member art,” Anabel said. “We want to represent as many mediums of art as we can.”

As a member, each artist must work a full day in the gallery at least once a month. They must also join a committee. 

“One of the really nice things about a cooperative gallery is that every time you visit you will meet one of the artists,” said Beth Parrock, who became a member in 2009. “It’s also nice as an artist because we share the responsibility of running the business.”

Beth, who makes bead- and wire-weaving jewelry, said one of her favorite things about joining the gallery has been learning from other artists. 

“We all have to learn about each other’s work so that when a customer comes in we can explain each item,” said Beth, who also works with precious metal clay and glass fusing. “A lot of our customers are artists as well, and I enjoy talking to them and learning from them.”

Offering art at prices everyone can afford is very important to Anabel.

“We always want to have something for everyone’s tastes and price range,” she said. “We have gift options like jewelry and small paintings and sculptures, but we also have pieces that cost thousands of dollars.”

One of the most unique displays in the gallery features sculptures made from stone shipped from Africa.

“The artist, Peter Rujuwa, is originally from Zimbabwe and came here as a political refugee,” Beth said. “He and his family had to flee from Africa. His work is extraordinary.”

Anabel said she is proud to be a founding member of the gallery.

“Our quality has definitely improved over the years,” she said. “But more than anything, these artists are my friends. I’ve always wanted a place I could go when I’m downtown. The gallery is like my headquarters.”

Ruth Wert, also a founding member, said people often miss the gallery because it is not on the main street. Ruth uses antique pieces to create natural stone jewelry. She also works with dyed silk, and glass, and makes Nantucket baskets. 

“The advice I would give anyone visiting Nashville is that local art is often off of the main street,” she said. 

Even so, Ruth said she has seen many repeat customers, and customers from all over the world.

“We have the same people coming back every year and it is fun to talk with them,” she said. “I think it is really neat to know that art from our gallery has gone to places as far away as Tibet and Switzerland.”

Each month, the gallery features member artists. The July featured artists are Tom Lowe and Tom Duffy. Lowe designs intricate wooden art, pendants, puzzles, and more. Duffy is a fine art and documentary photographer. The August featured artists are Don Wood and Della Wood. 

Don builds beautifully crafted wooden furniture and woodworking artistry. Della is a sculptor, who breathes life into her one-of-a-kind art pieces. These artists are featured on the Gallery’s website <HoosierArtist.com>.

Hoosier Artist also participates in the monthly Village Art Walks, a self-guided tour of many downtown Nashville art galleries featuring original local and regional art and crafts, plus complimentary refreshments, entertainment, and specials at participating restaurants.

On July 22, Sandy Vanover will lead a painting class and on August 26 Beth Parrock will lead a jewelry making class.