237 Collective Grand Opening
111 13th St, Cedar Rapids, Friday, Sept. 15, 6-10 p.m., Free
111 13th St, Cedar Rapids, Sept. 15-17: Friday, 6-10 p.m; Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Next time you’re heading down 1st Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids near the Coe College campus, you might be able to spot the vibrant teal, pink and yellow of a new mural on the former Wayfair Roofing building. The piece by EBiSU graces the side of the new 237 Collective gallery, their first brick-and-mortar space to peruse fashion, visual art, jewelry and more from local artists and designers. The gallery will also sell a selection of art supplies, including a wide variety of spray paint.
“I think it’ll become a good place of community collaboration, a safe space for artists to express themselves however they feel they need to … creating that strengthened art community,” said EBiSU, the artist name for Paxton Williams. Williams is a co-creative director of 237 Collective with Abby Long-Williams, overseeing a group of 15 local artists who work in fashion design, 2D and 3D art, and other media. The artists collective put on several fashion shows in 2022 and 2023, including a show before the Iowa Pop Art Fest that featured work from several members.
The first event in the new space will kick off on Friday, Sept. 15, and continue on Saturday and Sunday. Entitled MOMENTUM, it’s a solo show of Williams’ work as EBiSU, displaying his colorful, arrow-riddled, graffiti-inspired illustrations. There will also be a clothing swap and a parking lot vintage market at the new location in October.
The gallery has a large front room that will serve as a fluid, multipurpose space for the retail business as well as classes, art markets and other events.
“We want other artists to be able to use our space to host classes for themselves. We have people that do botanical dying and tie-dying, just random things that we don’t specialize in, so for them to be able to have a space to invite people in to teach as well, I think it’ll be really cool,” Williams explained.
Williams and Long-Williams hope that 111 13th St will become a third place where the goal is just as much to build a strong community as it is to be a business, with a space for visitors to relax and play games as well as hopes for a free food pantry stationed outside in the future.
“[We’re] doing what we can to strengthen this area,” Long-Williams said. “I feel like there’s a lot of areas in Cedar Rapids — NewBo and Czech Village are already pretty established and it’s cool to see young people opening businesses around here because it’s affordable … but [we’re] taking some of that young entrepreneurship and community-centered business and focus somewhere else in Cedar Rapids, kind of expanding that to be not just concentrated in one area but the whole city.”
The exhibitions will be primarily from the artists in the collective, but it’s not restricted to those 15. “We want to have a lot of different kinds of art, so that when people come in that want to buy it there’s kind of something for everybody. Abstract art and realistic art and — what do you call clothing? — wearable art,” Williams said.
Besides EBiSU’s art, you may encounter work from M (@divinehelix), a Rick Owens-adjacent fashion designer with a punk sensibility for upcycling; Rachel the Maker (@rachelthemaker), whose Bode-esque pieces use recycled vintage materials to create quirky multicolored clothes; or Zack Owens (@auraboi1991), a designer and photographer specializing in upcycled denim.
Williams and Long-Williams hope the new space will be more approachable to a younger demographic than traditional gallery spaces.
“[There’s] a lot of young talent around here that we want to give more opportunities to people that wouldn’t necessarily be able to get gallery shows at other galleries,” Williams said.
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