Lubbock Gallery Owner Janelle Barrington Spivey Receives YWCA Woman of Excellence Award

by Michelle Kraft April 1, 2024
Photo of a blonde woman holding an award

Janelle Barrington Spivey with her YWCA award

Lubbock gallery owner Janelle Barrington Spivey was recognized as a 2024 YWCA Woman of Excellence for her contributions to community arts and culture. A self-taught artist in her own right, Barrington Spivey, along with her musician husband Ryan Spivey, launched the Broadway Contemporary Gallery in Lubbock in 2021, with the intention of showcasing local work. To this end, Broadway Contemporary represents thirty-five artists, eighty percent of whom are local, including such names as Lahib Jaddo, Kristy Kristinek, Homer Hensley, Hannah Dean, and Abed Monawar. Collectively, they demonstrate a wide variety of styles and media; or, as Barrington Spivey herself puts it, an eclectic range for all tastes. “I think there’s enough art for everybody,” she asserts. “I’m not here to be the stingy gatekeeper of the art world. If I had my way, Broadway Street would be like Santa Fe’s Canyon Road, with galleries all the way down.” She appreciates that, for many of the artists she represents, Broadway Contemporary is their first experience working with a gallery. Barrington Spivey likens this relationship between artist and gallery to a marriage, adding, “When both parties are treating each other with consideration and respect, it can be very beneficial for everyone.” 

In addition to general displays of works, a specific space in Broadway Contemporary is dedicated to a rotation of featured artists. When I visited in early March, the photography of David Sanderson was on view; in April and May, the featured artist will be James W. Johnson. For a university town with a vibrant art scene — there are four colleges and universities within a forty-five-mile radius, all offering programs in visual arts — artists in Lubbock have a dearth of available exhibition space. Barrington Spivey understands the role that Broadway Contemporary has made in filling that gap, noting that when the arts thrive, the community thrives. “By highlighting artists from the area,” she points out, “the gallery has helped foster a sense of community among artists, art enthusiasts, and art collectors.” 

Photo of the inside of a painting studio

Janelle Barrington Spivey’s art studio, which is inside of Broadway Contemporary Gallery

Along with her own artwork and the business of running a gallery, Barrington Spivey’s creative vocation extends to longtime support and philanthropy within her community. She regularly contributes numerous paintings to such fundraising efforts as programs serving women who are victims of sexual abuse and trafficking, Lubbock’s Make a Wish, and Art on the Llano Estacado, which supports the Museum of Texas Tech University. Earlier in 2024, Barrington Spivey created a mural-size painting for the new South Plains Food Bank Family Nourishment Room at Covenant Children’s Hospital, a space that provides 24-hour access to nutritious food options for families of NICU patients. The organizations that serve children that are her favorite charities. Barrington Spivey is passionate about children being granted equal access to success, pointing out that, without a strong foundation, the difficulties going forward in life are only compounded. 

Facade of Broadway Contemporary gallery

Broadway Contemporary Gallery

She recognizes the healing nature of art, and what it can do for others, through both its creation and in its enjoyment — “Painting,” she says, “is like an exhale” — but she also understands that there are many demands on artists’ time. For Barrington Spivey, as both artist and gallery owner, time is at a premium; she finds that when she’s unable to contribute in terms of volunteerism, donating her art is the next best thing. She does admit that many rising artists are frequently asked to donate their work, and one must make a living. The challenge is in finding the balance. For the fledgling artist, donating work to charities may be a good thing to do in and of itself, but also may be good for them, in terms of exposure to an audience who may not know about their art. 

A couple standing in front of the Broadway Contemporary Fine Art Gallery

Ryan Spivey and Janelle Barrington Spivey in front of Broadway Contemporary Gallery

When asked about her two roles — the creative side of artmaking versus the business side of owning a gallery — Barrington Spivey shared her belief that her flexibility was an extension of a peripatetic childhood: “I went to twelve different schools before graduating high school.” It is no wonder, perhaps, that her career prior to art was, for two decades, the travel industry: it was through her job with American Airlines that she landed in Lubbock. When half a dozen years ago she decided to make the transition into art full-time, it was her spirit of adaptability that helped her take the leap. She is, she avows, a walking example of just try it. Barrington Spivey cites the support of others who encouraged her in both the creation of her own art, as well as her representation of others in the gallery: “If you love it,” painter/friend James Johnson often told her, “someone else will love it, too.” 

Interior of a gallery wall with figurative paintings hanging

Works installted in Broadway Contemporary Gallery

Barrington Spivey was nominated for the YWCA award by Elizabeth Hill, of Burklee Hill Vineyards, for whom she designed several wine labels. While her work has earned awards in juried competitions and has been exhibited in galleries and venues throughout Texas and in Santa Fe, Barrington Spivey says of her selection as a Woman of Excellence, “To be recognized and appreciated — as a self-taught artist — has meant so much.” In his support of her for the YWCA award, Johnson points to Barrington Spivey’s role in diversifying and promoting the art scene in Lubbock: “I have never seen anyone pursue [a career in art] with such energy and passion. She is a versatile and prolific painter that has achieved a level of professionalism faster than anyone I have ever known.” It is this passion for the visual arts, and for her community, that has earned Barrington Spivey the admiration of her adopted hometown. The feeling is mutual, too: fostering a vibrant art scene in the city “would create valuable tourism, boost the economy, and continue to expose multiple generations to culture and arts.” 

Abstract floral painting

Janelle Barrington Spivey, “I Can Buy Myself Flowers,” acrylic on canvas

In terms of encouraging the next generation of up-and-coming women creatives, who may be future candidates for recognitions such as hers, I asked Barrington Spivey what local arts communities can do to help them along. “There can never be enough queens straightening each other’s crowns,” she points out, adding, “May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them!”

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Kristian Jenkins April 1, 2024 - 18:32

I have honestly never met a more beautiful, passionate human being! No doubt the countless lives she impacts through her work and her story as she continues to shine and inspire the whole community.


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