Earlier this month, Easyside, a new arts nonprofit on the east side of Fort Worth, announced that it has rented a physical space and will be opening in the coming weeks.
Launched in spring 2022 by artists Adrianna Touch, Fernando Alvarez, and Corrie Thompson, along with musician and entrepreneur John Paul Thompson, Easyside is a multipurpose nonprofit that seeks to provide resources for artists and also access to fresh fruits and vegetables to the local neighborhood. The recently rented space is located near Fort Worth’s 76104 zip code, which has the area’s lowest life expectancy and little to no access to doctors, groceries, and other essentials.
Residents of East Fort Worth since 2018, Mr. and Mrs. Thompson have been in dialogue for years about the needs in the area. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when students were learning from home, the couple saw that many of the efforts of the local school district and charter schools were focused on getting food to students who would otherwise have received free or reduced meals in school.
Last spring, the three artists involved with the organization graduated from the Texas Christian University MFA program and immediately had a personal need for studio space and access to equipment. They realized that while Fort Worth has a thriving arts scene, much of it is focused on commercial galleries and larger museums. This, paired with the uncertainty of Arts Fort Worth’s building, which has been a community art space for decades and is now in need of major renovation, brought the artists together to consider how they might remedy their situation.
The co-founders saw an opportunity to creatively approach both artistic and community needs. Inspired by Chicago arts spaces that are integrated into neighborhoods, Fort Worth’s recently opened Kinfolk House, and multipurpose nonprofits like 4DWN in Dallas, the artists began working on their plan. Last September, the group introduced the organization to the world via social media, and in November they presented an exhibition at 4DWN, which seeks to foster health and wellbeing through offering recreational activities in its skatepark, educational programs, and access to food.
Easyside President, Ms. Thompson, told Glasstire, “It was fun to see how it felt to curate for a space that is not primarily for art. Installing Liz (Trosper)’s pieces in a skate park and seeing people skating around them, it was good. We definitely had takeaways about how to better organize and better care for people’s work.”
Ms. Thompson explained that Easyside produced two iterations of the exhibition titled Frontside/Backside at 4DWN, the most recent of which closed early due to an issue with damage sustained to an artist’s work.
Ms. Thompson stated, “There’s a difference between making our own DIY shows that we’ve done for several years versus inviting [other] people [to be a part of our shows]. At the end of the day it’s our responsibility to make judgment calls about [exhibitions and artwork safety].”
At the time of the incident, Easyside acknowledged its mishandling of the situation and issued a public apology via social media. The apology in part read: “Over the course of the show, we – Easyside – failed to ensure the safety and proper handling of the work, specifically of two works by artist Ari Brielle. We’re deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused, especially given the nature of Brielle’s work, which features representations of her own body in order to interrogate and seek healing from the mistreatment of Black femmes.”
In April, the organization curated After Sense, a show at Art Fort Worth, and announced that it had received 501(c)3 status. On June 1, Easyside signed a lease at 3715 E. Lancaster, and for the last few weeks the co-founders have been hard at work transforming the space. The property, which was formerly a dry cleaning business, has sat empty for a number of years. The portion of the building that Easyside is renting had previously been gutted, which has allowed for the organization to build out the space to fit its needs.
As the co-founders work to build walls to section out the space into seven artists studios and a micro-gallery, the landlord has been “incredibly supportive,” according to the organization, and is working toward improving other aspects of the building. When completed, the space will also include a workshop and an outdoor area that will be used to address food resources issues, though the details of this are still in the works. One potential option is for Easyside to use this outdoor space to host farmers markets for local organizations, which could be attended by the nearby community.
Co-founders and board members Ms. Touch, Mr. Alvarez Caraccioli, and Mrs. Thompson will occupy three of the studios, with the remaining spaces going to other TCU-affiliated artists, including Sheryl Anaya, Holly D. Gray, Sarah Hunt, and Francisco Josué Alvarado Araujo. Once the studios are complete and the artists move in, Easyside plans to host regular open studio times in conjunction with exhibitions in its gallery space. Learn more about Easyside via its website.