Earth is Art: Guerrilla Art Takeover

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Story By Katie Canales | Photography by Timothy Douglass

012_TKD_1161A theme, a venue, and 50-60 artists: such are the ingredients for the travelling art gallery known as Guerrilla Art Takeover.

The forces behind the Guerrilla are Jeremy Herrera and Nancy Elliott, artists seeking to provide a platform for other artists to showcase their work in the community. The art gallery’s members range from sculptors and photographers to painters and potters, all creating art through their own medium to conform to a specific theme or venue arranged by Jeremy and Nancy.

Nancy studied art in school, as did Jeremy. Sort of…

“I was that kid who got in trouble in class for drawing and not paying attention,” says Jeremy, a Bryan native.

Jeremy and Nancy met while participating in artBAC, an independent artist’s group that rented open studio space in Downtown Bryan, before Jeremy moved out of state where he was eventually introduced to the concept of Guerrilla Art. “There’s a thing in Chicago called the guerrilla truck show where they get artists to rent their own U-Haul and you decorate the U-Haul up as your own little gallery, and then they line the sidewalks,” says Jeremy.

009_TKD_1148Jeremy took part in the event with his husband and when the two decided to move to Texas to be near family, Jeremy brought the idea of Guerrilla Art to the Brazos Valley.

In the past 2 ½ years, Guerrilla Art has taken over 20 different venues, including The Village Cafe, Messina Hof Winery, Binary Space, yoga studios, and several private residences. “It’s in a situation where we think it’s mutually beneficial to both the business and to ourselves in exhibiting the work and for the artist,” says Nancy, a former art teacher.

When Jeremy and Nancy find a venue, settle on a date, and usually a theme, they send a call for entries to artists. The artists are then tasked with creating art in the medium of their choice that fits the specific theme or venue. “I wanted Guerrilla Art Takeover to have original work to where when you’re going to a guerrilla takeover show, you’re seeing work for the first time,” says Jeremy.

Past themes have been “Out of this World,” “Hot Show,” where artists can interpret what “hot” is, and a daylight/blacklight themed show. “During the day, [daylight/blacklight] was one painting, but at night, the same painting turned into something else because we blocked out all the windows and turned on blacklight,” says Jeremy.

006_TKD_1114Nancy and Jeremy stress that regardless of the theme and venue, most of the pop-up gallery shows are open to the public, even when they are in a private residence.

By day, Jeremy is a floral designer at Nita’s Flowers, a local Bryan Florist shop where the two will be doing a “Flower Power” show on March 19. Nancy works as a full-time artist, decorator, and business partner for Guerrilla Art Takeover with Jeremy. They both sell their personal artwork in Guerrilla shows along with the other artists and take a small commission on exhibit sales to cover business expenses.

Nancy’s work is abstract and contemporary realism. Jeremy incorporates serene scenes of planetary objects and trees. Despite different creative processes, they make a good team. “I do feed off of her. I get a lot of ideas from her, and she gets a lot of ideas from me as well,” says Jeremy.

The two have been swamped in the past with venues and shows, to the point where it became a bit too much for them. “We have done very little of trying to find places to exhibit; they have come to us for the most part,” says Nancy.

010_TKD_1153On top of the exhibitions, Guerrilla Art Takeover has an ongoing, rotating gallery of the artists’ work at Messina Hof Winery.

The goal for Guerrilla Art Takeover in the future is to have fewer, more meaningful art shows, maybe once every three months, to avoid overwhelming clientele and the artists. Expanding outside the Brazos Valley is also a possibility; they hosted a show in Houston in December.

Jeremy explains how art exhibits like Guerrilla Art Takeover encourage art collecting in order to express individuality, noting it doesn’t require a huge investment to get started. Guerrilla Art Takeover has artwork available in the $50 price range all the way up to $10,000.

“If you want to collect art to show your personality, you go to galleries, you go to art shows, you go to art openings, and you collect the work you love, and you invest in it,” says Jeremy. “You bring it into your home to show your whole personality.”