The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

507 Gallery

Local Waco art gallery fosters community and supports artists

2 months ago

By Skylla Mumana

When patrons walk into Thrst Coffee Shop, 1500 Colcord Ave. Ste. 3, they’ll not only have the opportunity to grab a great cup of joe but to be inspired by local art at one of Waco’s newest galleries — 507 Gallery.

507 Gallery is tucked away in the back left corner of Thrst and features the work of local Waco artists. The gallery was started by curator and photographer Josh Collins back in April 2023.

As a photographer himself, Collins has experimented with numerous forms of photography, such as black-and-white, close-up portraits and one of his favorites, environmental landscapes. One day, while he was wandering around taking photos in Waco, Collins came across an abandoned building. After exploring it, Collins discovered an old door, and at that moment, inspiration struck, leading him to create the gallery.

“I got the inspiration from the door of an abandoned building,” Collins said. “The architecture of the building was very interesting. I saw this door that was very old-looking. It was black, but it was almost gray, and there were some scratches on it. The numbers on it were 507.”

Since opening, Collins has hustled to feature a new, local artist each month. After locating the talent, he actively works with the artist to help curate their art in an organic way that will represent them and their artistry. His goal is to bring fresh, unique exhibits that tell a story and will impact its viewers.

“I want to be challenged by the work,” Collins said. “I want it to feel new and fresh. Also, a really important thing for me is for it to be social. I want it to impact the culture I’m amongst.”

Although he is an artist himself, Collins is fairly new to curation. He currently scouts most of his artists off of social media and at various creative-based events around Waco. He describes his experience so far as a learning process.

“This is also new to me, so I’m growing with the space. I’m learning about different mediums, I’m learning about how to be a curator, how to run a space, how to ask questions, all of it,” Collins said.

Currently, the featured artist in 507 is Brittany Wood and her photography exhibit titled “The Long Way Home: An Ode to Waco.” Wood and Collins initially connected on Instagram where, after seeing her work, Collins commissioned her to create an exhibit for 507.

Growing up in North Waco, Wood had trouble finding an artistic community to connect to, and often found herself looking around and wondering what opportunities there were for creatives like her. After moving away to the Dallas area and coming back several years later with her daughter, she started to see Waco in a new mindset.

“‘The Long Way Home’ is about my journey to learning to appreciate my hometown and see it in a different light than how I experienced it when I was younger,” Wood said. “I grew up in the inner city, mostly North Waco. I think there just wasn’t a large arts community or anything of that sort at the time. That’s also a play on the name, ‘The Long Way Home’, because it’s taken me a while to find my creative side and just kind of lean into that.”

For this exhibition, Wood wanted to highlight Waco from a local perspective. After having such rapid growth in the last five to 10 years, there are areas of Waco that residents, like Wood, deem to be more tourist-oriented than others. She wanted to focus on showing different parts of Waco in a more intimate light.

“I definitely wanted to lean towards things the locals see more,” Wood said. “I didn’t want to focus too much on downtown or Magnolia or anything too touristy. I wanted it to be from a local’s point of view.”

Overall, Collins hopes to grow 507 and continue to utilize the gallery as a space that promotes creative expression and fosters community through art.

“I want the space to be a place where people come together,” Collins said. “I want them to know that 507 is a space to impact the local community through art, through stories, and that it’s all facilitated by artists. I don’t want it to be intimidating. I want it to be welcoming for anybody and everybody. Just come and be yourself.”

For more information about the gallery and its next upcoming exhibit, check out their Instagram today.

 

Photos courtesy of Avery Ballmann