Blind Alley Projects sits right off the street in a quiet residential neighborhood a few blocks north of the museums in the Fort Worth Cultural District. The contemplative space, one of the city’s latest art additions, presents contemporary exhibitions for art lovers and unsuspecting pedestrians alike. Following a brief winter hiatus, Blind Alley kicked off this year’s exhibition schedule with the work of local artist Audrey Travis, whose site-specific installation, on display through April 16, responds to the unique nature of the gallery while tackling themes of materiality, space, and light.
Travis has subtly applied greenish transparent washes throughout the gallery, evoking the shapes of cast light created by the gallery’s glass front wall. She has also hung tarnished rectangular copper plates on the walls. These are mirrored with rectangles she painted using verdigris, the patina that develops on the surface of copper.
“I’m drawn to the intimacy of the venue, its distinctive architecture, and the ever-changing reflection of the glass façade,” said Travis, who graduated with an MFA in sculpture from Texas Christian University in 2018. “My work is a direct response to those elements, and I hope to enhance those qualities in this exhibition.”
Blind Alley Projects is a special space. The 8 foot by 10 foot building is constructed out of gabion walls with a shortgrass prairie living roof serving as a habitat for native flora and fauna. The front is made entirely of glass, giving it a vitrine-like nature that appeals to drive-by and walk-up visitors during daylight hours. The singular structure was conceived by artists Terri Thornton, curator of education at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; and Cameron Schoepp, professor of art at Texas Christian University. The structure was designed in collaboration with Anderson Anderson Architecture in San Francisco.
“We had to go through a lot of red tape to get a permit to build our 80-square-foot building because zoning had no examples to follow and, quite honestly, it confused everyone involved in permitting,” Schoepp said.
While the initial idea for the gallery came from a series of conversations with a previous neighbor in 2007, the couple continued to develop the concept over the years. Not until the pandemic did they decide to go for it. “Activating a program for Blind Alley aligned with the limitations of the pandemic,” Thornton explained. “It became a logical way to see art, and we were able to provide TCU grads an opportunity to show work related to their thesis shows after those exhibitions were all canceled due to COVID.”
Blind Alley opened in April 2020 with Liminal Space, a series of exhibitions showcasing the work of graduating Texas Christian University MFA students. Since then, the gallery has presented a variety of installations featuring the work of Cheryl Donegan, Patrick Kelly, and Annette Lawrence, among others.
According to the couple, the gallery was started to help meet a need for additional alternative exhibition spaces in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It also comes from their mutual enthusiasm for art. “Being artists is a way of life; one we chose and have been committed to with almost every decision we’ve made,” Thornton said. “So far, this has been a rewarding addition to our ever-growing endeavors to keep life interesting.”
The space has proved to be as inviting for artists as it has for residents of the neighborhood. “We have gotten very positive responses from the neighbors and visitors who seek us out,” Schoepp said. “If we see people looking and are available, we often go out to talk with them and answer their questions.”
Blind Alley Projects is located at 3317 W. 4th St., Fort Worth. For more information, visit blindalleyprojects.com.