FAYETTEVILLE — The Fayetteville Underground is now at street level.
Roughly eight months after members of the artist collective lost their lease on space they occupied on the basement level of East Square Plaza, the artists are up and running in a new location across the Fayetteville Square.
Members and some friends with construction skills spent the last six weeks and an estimated 1,500 man hours of volunteer labor to ready the Underground’s gallery and studio space at 101 W. Mountain St. for a sneak preview Thursday evening (Aug. 2). The building is at corner of Block Avenue and Mountain Street, facing the square.
Guests snacked on crackers, cheese and other finger foods and were served box wine by musician Emily Kaitz. Music by Matthew Jay, who played the sitar, could be heard in the gallery occupied to artist Hank Kaminsky.
“I think it’s quite conducive to what they are and what they stand for,” Jay said, looking at the art around him.
The group show featured paintings, sculpture, photography, pottery, jewelry, and other artwork by Underground artists Kaminsky, Cheri Bohn, William Mayes Flanagan, Jan Gosnell, Mike Haley and Susy Siegele, Don House, Becky Johnson, M.M. Kent, Sharon Killian, Martha Molina, Doug Randall, Sheila Richards, Sabine Schmidt, John Sewell and more.
Acquiring the space, whether temporary or permanent, was made possible by a one-time $60,000 grant from the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotions Commission. For most of the winter and spring, the Underground hung its hopes on the A&P Commission’s effort to buy and renovate the historic Old Post Office, located at the center of the square. That deal never fully came to fruition.
“We’re still flying by the seat of our pants, but we’ve made hurdle after hurdle,” said artist William Mayes Flanagan, who occupies one of about 10 studios in the Underground space.
The group has planned a grand opening for Sept. 6 to coincide with the city’s First Thursday art celebration on the square. (It was the Fayetteville Underground artists that started First Thursdays, then the city continued the tradition while the Underground was without space.)