Art for the People weathered the initial months of the pandemic by strengthening the gallery’s website, Goodman said, but the gallery space itself was designed to be part of patrons’ experience. After suffering a “dramatic decrease in sales” this year, Art for the People is beginning to see more patrons come back through the door.
“We always use the phrase ‘adventure through Austin art,’ and I think our building actually really fits that phrase,” Goodman said. “I love it when people come in and say, ‘Wow, this really looks like Austin.’”
Art for the People—which features work created exclusively by local artists and those with close ties to the city—is a small venue that packs a punch of color and character. Bright paintings line the walls, and the ceiling features a textural installation of wax paper blossoms lit at times by colored LED lights.
The pieces displayed at Art for the People are often selected for their uplifting and happy nature, Art Business Director Hallie Rae Ward said—pieces are “giftable” and work in someone’s home or office.
“We really want this to integrate into your daily life, for you to realize that you need art in your daily life,” Ward said.
Those pieces may be “wearable, visual, or functional,” according to Goodman. The gallery offers jewelry, pottery, puzzles, cards and other items in addition to paintings and traditional fine art made by nearly 100 local artists at a range of price points. Goodman said those artists have taken inspiration from the challenges of this year—such as one who has made prints of empty and full toilet paper rolls called “Panic” and “Relax,” respectively.
“A year ago, that wouldn’t make any sense,” Goodman said. “But you’ve got to innovate, you’ve got to adapt, and you’ve got to keep going.”
Just like the gallery’s artists, that is a message Goodman said she and Ward have taken to heart.
“Our options were this: Never, ever, ever give up,” she said.
The Greeting Committee
Goodman refers to her two rescue pugs—Tassel and Charm Charm—as the gallery’s “greeting committee.” The dogs have become unofficial mascots for Art for the People and like to meet visitors at the door. Tassel and Charm Charm have become so associated with the gallery that patrons sometimes come in just to meet the pugs, Goodman said.