By Connie Dufner
Photos courtesy of Sara Kerens
With successful solo careers still running, four artists find the bond of their new showroom inspires a different sort of creative energy that also feeds their souls.
ALG Collective is part gallery and part coworking space, lounge and cool event venue — and 100 percent charming. Powered by four women artists with thriving individual careers, the new Dallas Design District showroom is a salute to the power of their combined creative energy.
The collective opened in May, spearheaded by Anna Curnes of Anna Lou Glass, a Dallas glass artist who moved back last year after living in Chicago for a number of years. She turned to art to begin to heal the sadness left by her sister’s death in 2002. An art minor in college, she took a class in glass art and knew she had found her medium. “I’m an artist who likes playing with fire. I enjoy making something beautiful from brokenness,” she says. Curnes’ signature works include mirrors embellished with glass art. She says often we look at a mirror and see what is wrong, but she believes art can help change that. “What if we changed our perspective to looking in the mirror to see what is right? The mirror is a symbol of that grace,” she says.
Curnes recruited friends and friends of friends, women who knew one another from different paths in their lives; they decided that working as a group was better than working alone. “It’s like a group hug all the time,” says Melissa Ellis, a native Texan who lives in Oak Cliff and specializes in sculptural, abstract oil paintings. “We really have strong friendships and feel like sisters.”
“We are very communal, extroverted artists,” says Christi Meril, an abstract expressionist painter. “We enjoy being around others when they create. We can be vulnerable when we’re creating ourselves.” Her contemporary art reflects themes in nature as well as reactions to the world around her. In her workspace, a chair she painted boldly exclaims, “Love Your Neighbor.” “I have an opinion about what’s happening in our world today. My art is also about stepping back and caring for one another.”
Annie Griffeth rounds out the group. The Hawaii native’s pop art is narrative driven. No topics — politics and religion included — are off limits. “Art gives me freedom; it’s a way I can share what’s in my heart,” says Griffeth, who moved to Dallas in 2016.
In addition to their individual work as artists, the group feels strongly about giving back, and a cornerstone of their partnership is participating in the community, including organizations and projects such as Dwell with Dignity, Equest, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and Kappa Tablescapes.
The group participates in the Third Thursday Art Walks on Dragon Street, and the women are as happy about their location as they are about being together. A word to the wise: If you ever wander in and can’t find the artists, go upstairs. The space has a rooftop deck with killer views of Dallas. For more insight into the artists, follow ALG Collective on social media and check out a calendar of events on the website. The showroom is open Thursdays, 11 a.m.-6 pm. (till 8 p.m. on third Thursdays) and by appointment. 1302 Dragon St., Dallas, algcollective.com.