Even if you haven't read about the Ladies Fancywork Society, you've likely seen their fancywork -- known as "yarn bombs" -- around town. LFS often works in the dead of night, wrapping random, urban objects in a comforting knit sweater, giving the pedestrian telephone pole or bike rack an intimate, anthropomorphic feel. "Street art is often very masculine in nature, more aggressive," says Lauren Seip, an LFS artist. "And there's nothing wrong with that, but there's a place for the other side, and crochet street art brings something domestic and feminine to the street."
Over the last year, LFS stepped up its game, tagging large objects like the Colorado Convention Center's Big Blue Bear with a witty ball and chain. And now the group is taking its grandma-tag aesthetic into the mainstream with Lowbrow, an art-gallery/art-supply-store/workshop space.
Other than a knitted deer-head that LFS created as a gift for Fancy Tiger (see pic below), this will be the group's first foray into art-as-capitalism. "It's the first time we've made something that people can buy and take home," says Seip. "It won't be taken down, or rained on, or set on fire, or peed on by a bum. We kind of took crochet from inside to outside -- and now we're bringing it back inside."
But just as LFS took street art in a completely different direction (leaning toward witty inspiration rather than territorial urinating), the new Lowbrow gallery also stands apart from its contemporaries. In addition to exhibition space, Lowbrow features a quaint (yet comprehensive) art-supply section, and will regularly host workshops on topics like wheatpasting, moss graffiti and screen printing -- all made with materials that can be purchased at a local grocery store. The workshops "are more in the style of LFS," says Tymla Welch, co-owner of Lowbrow and fellow LFS y-bomber. "I'll be putting on a screenprinting workshop using glue and dish soap. It's accessible, it's easy for anybody; it's not like fine-art classes."
"We want art to be for everybody," continues Welch. "You don't have to have had to go to art school to do it. You don't have to have a lot of money to afford it." And by providing both the materials and space to create art -- as well as exhibitions of other inspiring, DIY works -- Lowbrow will offer a comprehensive space where potential artists can feel comfortable and self-assured. "I feel like a lot of people are intimidated by art. They think: I could never do that. But really anybody can, you just need some confidence," muses Seip.
Utilizing the "why not?" child-like optimism of the LFS street art, Seip and Welch conceived and executed the plan for Lowbrow within the span of a few months. "We started talking about this in February," says Seip. "We were like, let's get together and come up with ideas; and by that we meant: get together to bitch and drink."
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These booze-and-bitch sessions yielded an idealistic gallery concept, where prices are kept low and the art world is democratically handed back to the people. "We want the art on the walls to be affordable; it doesn't have to be seen as an investment," Welch says. "We're going to have a cap on prices."
For legal (and, you suspect, perhaps romantic) reasons, the heroines behind Ladies Fancywork Society's yarn-bombs have kept a low-profile throughout the years, using alias names in the press and often being photographed in disguise. Now that Welch and Seip have opened Lowbrow and are embracing what they call "indoor art," though, the time has come for these cotton-crusaders to remove their masks and embrace public life. "I don't want to be an anonymous store owner, so I'm going to out myself," says Welch. "We wanted to progress and try something new. We still have plans for street installations in the future."
Until those installations reveal themselves, you can check out some LFS art on display starting at 7 p.m. tomorrow, June 1, at the Lowbrow gallery, 250 Broadway Avenue, #100. And just outside Lowbrow, Pom Freet, a mobile French Fry eatery operated by Chef Ben Robbins, will make its debut. "It was a coincidence that we were opening at the same time," says Welch. "And he was like, 'Can I piggy-back your opening?' And we were like, 'Sure, can we piggy-back yours?'"