Fostering creativity in the ’05 – Collective State

All photos are by Anna Macke.

Tucked into the East State Village, across from Zinnia’s Bakery, is Collective State. This is Jon Brown’s latest brainchild.

On an especially cold Fort Wayne day, it was wonderful to walk into the warm, sunlit shop and have Jon offer me a cup of freshly brewed Conjure Coffee. We bellied-up to the counter and he filled me in on his vision for the shop.

“We started out as the Fort Wayne Arts Collective,” he said, over his coffee cup, “we’ve been doing art drops all over town for years, trying to make art more accessible to everyone regardless of income or background. I think art is a priority in people’s lives, but if you walk into a gallery and see that $200 price tag, it gets overshadowed by things like utilities and bills. Art drops change that, anyone can take art home and enjoy it.” The Arts Collective also did the Brass Rail mural, working with Jerrod Tobias.

Through his work with Fort Wayne Free Art Collective, Brown discovered that he wants to devote his skill set and resources to being a advocate for the other artists, musicians, and makers in our community.

“For the size Fort Wayne is, our creative community is stellar! We’re trying to sustain artists here and provide them a way to stay here instead of moving to a larger city,” explained Brown.

Collective State is a physical space for that vision. He further described it as a low maintenance way to get art out, where artists can gain some money and support themselves.

“We want to show Fort Wayne that there are tons of working artists here. It’s all from right here. That’s what the reaction has been when people come into the shop – ‘wow, they live here?’ Yes, they do!” Brown enthused. “Coming here and shopping you’re shopping local, supporting community, going directly back to the creative’s that live in your city.”

As we stood talking, my eyes swept over the arrangement of prints, pint glasses, jewelry, stickers, hoodies, and woven goods. I noticed some CDs. Brown spoke eagerly about his desire to provide a space for local bands’ merchandise. “We have some wonderful local record stores, but [band merchandise] isn’t a focus. We want to give people an opportunity to get artists’ [merchandise] out there. If you don’t go to the bar or the show, where do you get the CD or t-shirt?”

Not Just Retail Space

So what can we expect from this new shop in the ’05? Brown wants to do as much as possible!

“We’ll have art markets, food trucks, music, artist workshops, installation space, pop up shops…it’s not just retail space. We’re hoping it will become a hub for the community,” said Brown. “It’s so much about community building! We want people to stay in the ’05 instead of feeling like they need to go to the ’02 or ’07. There’s a lot here we just need a format. We want to take the pulse of the community and work together. We have ideas, but want to reach out to everyone in the community and work together to see what we can come up with.”

Who’s Involved?

How You Can Get Involved

Brown wants to work with as many people as possible but also wants to maintain a well curated, put together, nice space for customers. “If anyone’s interested, they can contact us on social media or drop in any time. Mention you’re a local artist who’d like to get involved, maybe send us some pictures of a few of your pieces. We’ll talk and go from there.”

As I put my coat back on and handed him my empty coffee cup, Brown summed up, “Generally, we’re here for everyone and want to be as available as possible. Any ideas please get in touch and we’ll do the best we can to make it happen. If we work together to get this to go in the right direction, there’s so much potential, limitless possibilities in the city right now.”

You can follow Collective State on their website, Instagram or Facebook page.

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Author: Kat Erickson

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