Nestled in downtown Springfield is a new, bright and colorful space for artists to create and sell their work: Snail Art House.
Walking past the windows at 204 S. Campbell Ave., passersby may see artists painting large flowers and mushrooms on the walls or brainstorming their next creative move, all in preparation for the art house’s opening. A soft opening is slated for April 1.
Snail Art House is home to resident artists Abby Baechle, Chloe Thorne, Levi Holloway and Kelsey Farris. The four will share the space to create their own art.
The art house will be open to the public each first and third Friday and Saturday of the month. When open, Snail Art House will act as a pop-up shop, a short-term flash sale space. The four artists, along with two guest artists, will have pieces on display for purchase.
Space to spread their wings
Baechle, Thorne and Farris met at Tea Bar & Bites, a cafe located in Pickwick Place, a retail strip at the intersection of Pickwick Avenue and Cherry Street. Farris and Holloway are partners.
The four friends agreed that opening an art studio and shop has been each of their dreams, but they never thought it would be possible. When Farris asked the group one day what they thought about opening a space together, there was no hesitation.
The group got wind that the space at 204 S. Campbell Ave. was available for rent through Anne Dezort, owner of SOAP Refill Station next door. In mid-February, they moved in.
The artists had been creating and selling work from their homes, but limited space has often limited their ability to create.
“We all got so tired of our tiny homes and apartments and just filling them with art supplies and unfinished projects,” Farris said. “Our (Farris and Holloway’s) apartment is just so small, and it’s perpetually a mess. People are like, ‘Oh, I would love if you made me this.’ And I’m like, ‘I would love to too, but I sure do have to clean my living room first.’”
Over the years, they’ve individually sold work in pop-ups and local galleries, but this often felt methodical.
In the past, Thorne sold work at The Local Bevy, a storefront featuring local handmade art, crafts and goods in Pickwick Place. Thorne said she was initially excited to begin selling her work, but her passion quickly began to feel like a full-time job: creating, restocking, merchandising, repeat.
“I lost so much of the thrill of making (art),” Thorne said. “It made the passion dwindle, and so my art suffered, and I suffered. I just felt burnt out.”
Slowing down to emphasize the process of creating is important to the friends, who not only want to prioritize art but also their “own mental health and happiness,” Farris said.
Eclectic, yet similar tastes create a collective atmosphere
Baechle is a senior studying art education at Missouri State University. She enjoys abstract painting, incorporating different mediums into her works, and upcycling old paintings, frames, and glasswork.
Baechle described herself as a “super senior,” who is taking the education process slowly.
“(It’s) something I’ve really struggled with — college, getting a major and figuring out how that’s going to play into my life later on,” Baechle said. “I’ve been struggling with art education, and so I’m really thrilled to be here painting and … trying out having a studio and developing more as an artist.”
Baechle is the only one in college, and Farris pointed out that the other three have not completed degrees. The friends said they don’t want a lack of college education to hinder their or other artists’ abilities to have a space to work and sell in Springfield.
“We don’t want people to feel overwhelmed or minimized by not having gone and gotten a college education in order to make art,” Thorne said. “I don’t want them to feel intimidated. We want them to feel welcome. We want to actually be a resource for them to grow.”
Thorne said she’s never given herself the “full reins” to create whatever she wanted, so she’s excited to explore new mediums alongside her friends.
Sewing, dying textiles and, of course, adding fringe to just about everything are among some of her favorite ways to upcycle. She also creates pressed resin floral jewelry, which she plans to continue in the new space.
Thorne is also the owner of Hey Babe Studio, a part of VTG 315, a vintage shop made up of four curators, including Thorne. Hey Babe Studio includes vintage lingerie, Thorne’s resin jewelry and custom pieces. VTG 315 is located at 315 W. Commercial St.
Holloway creates both visual art and music.
“With this space, I think I’m going to initially be selling my paintings and little doodles that I’ve drawn, and then eventually I really hope to sell or show everybody the music that I make,” Holloway said. “I’ve been doing that ever since I was 9 or 10, so it would be really nice to get to a place to show off my music, then eventually get other musicians that I can bring in.”
Holloway said he pulls inspiration from 1960-70s folk music and likes creating ambient drone music, a minimalist genre that includes sustained sounds and tone clusters called drones. He frequently plays with tape recorders and broken cassette players to execute different sounds.
Underneath the storefront is a full basement, which includes Holloway’s music equipment.
Upcycling is important to all four artists, and Farris works hard to ensure all of her materials are second-hand, even down to her sewing machine. Farris often uses old quilts, blankets and other types of fabrics to create functional clothing, such as dresses, skirts, jackets and vests. As for sourcing, Farris said she visits thrift stores or pulls items from the trash.
While Farris will continue upcycling clothing, she said she also wants to explore new mediums, including screen printing, music and even tattooing.
Welcoming guest artists
As the resident artists prepare for business, they are welcoming local artists interested in participating in a “drop,” or pop-up, to complete the interest form on their website. Guest artists should provide a brief biography and link or photos of their work.
With a soft opening in April, guest artists will have the ability to begin selling in May.
Guest artists can rent a spot for one month or just one drop. Artists cannot rent two months continually. Baechle said this is to create an equal opportunity for local artists.
From May through August, rentals are $50, and August onward will be $70. Rental fees cover merchandising, marketing and manning the store. Snail Art House will take a 15 percent commission of all products sold.
Thorne said they understand creating and selling art can be expensive, and they want to make the process easy and affordable. Rental fees and commissions will go back directly to maintaining the art house.
In addition, Snail Art House will also include a product photography studio, available to rent by artists. Rental fees have yet to be determined. Once open, reservations can be made on the Snail Art House website.
After the first few months of being open, the artists hope to collaborate with other local artists, providing access to their studio space, including a painting room, sewing station and printmaking studio.
For Snail Art House updates, follow on Instagram @snailarthouse.