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Cover Story: Off to a Running Start

Trevor Grubbs and Feralmade Gallery bring new energy to Northside

By Selena Reder · September 19th, 2007 · Cover Story
  Trevor Grubbs and Feralmade Gallery
Joe Lamb

Trevor Grubbs and Feralmade Gallery

He claims a "less-is-more" approach to making art, but it doesn't seem to translate into running a gallery for Trevor Grubbs.

More is more at Feralmade Gallery, where the directors are serious about cranking out shows. The Northside gallery has been up and running for nearly eight months now, and the young directors have five exhibits under their belts.

This summer Grubbs spent many a muggy day in the gallery with his Boston Terrier, Braque, running at his heels. As one of original directors, Grubbs -- along with Josh Mattie, Scott Fitzpatrick, Laura Sjogren and Randy Glandorf -- opened the gallery almost by accident.

Their impetus was to run a print shop. So they purchased affordable printing equipment at flea markets and rummage sales and rented a space in the basement of the Northside Chop Shop. That's where they began pressing T-shirts and designing posters with the goal of serving Northside businesses and artists.

The Chop Shop gave them the boot, but it turned out to be a fruitful eviction.

"When we got kicked out our business plan had to change," Grubbs says, explaining that the unit right next door was vacant. "We were given three times the amount of space and a store front."

They moved the print shop into their new basement at 4573 Hamilton Ave.

And with a spacious store front on the first floor, it seemed only natural to open a gallery.

Feralmade's inaugural exhibition, Groundhog Day, opened appropriately on Feb. 4 and featured works by Dasha Gilliss, Jason Brunson and Scribe/D. Ross. Framed artwork synthesized beautifully with large wall murals. Images of dangling silverfish, puffy creatures and pixilated clouds transformed the environment of the gallery into something otherworldly.

The works of Michael Kellner, Aaron Oliver Wood, Arcane and Chris Gliebe arrived this summer. Each artist brought a fresh face to Feralmade but shared similar motifs. Alien robots, dysfunctional machines and playful caricatures appeared time and again in the gallery.

The small stretch of sidewalk on the 4500 block of Hamilton Avenue has become an eclectic business district. Glandorf calls it the "Comet Strip Mall" with Feralmade, Northside Chop Shop, Avante Garage and The Comet lined up side-by-side.

In August, Sjogren and Mattie left the operation to focus on their solo work. The remaining core members added Jack Boberg to the partnership, and he designed the gallery Web site (www.feralmade.com). There's been some concern about keeping the momentum going.

If the last seven months are any trend, the directors need not worry. The exhibits have been energizing and youthful up to this point. Likewise, the directors are energized and seem to be living up to their motto: "Never not workin."

Whether by accident or intent, Feralmade is building a niche as a graphic arts and illustration venue. Adding to all that the directors will tell you that feeling successful hinges upon keeping the print shop alive.

"As far as projects, we are just trying to get back in the print shop," Grubbs says. "Feralmade started out as a screen printing shop, but that got put to the back of the line to rehab our new space and gallery."

In the coming months perhaps the guys will power the printing press back up. Either way it appears the gallery will keep on chugging.

Their fifth exhibit, More Happy Than Sad, runs through Oct. 12. Artists Rob Warnick, Chris Dye and Keith Neltner take a sarcastic approach to describing the joint exhibit, saying in their joint artists statement, "When three dogmatic artistic minds come together, the results could be disastrous, or beautiful."

The same could be said for Feralmade in general.

In December, look for works by Chris Semer and Jeremy Nichols. ©

Q: What's the coolest thing about you?

Trevor Grubbs: "I have gnarley friends."

Q: What's the coolest thing about Northside?

Grubbs: "Not knowing what to expect when entering the UDF on Chase. The support system and the pride of community in Northside is the coolest thing. The people on the front line -- business owners, community activists and families -- have all invested everything in this community."

Q: Which cool Cincinnatian influences you?

Grubbs: "I think Charley Harper is pretty awesome. Cincinnati lost a great artist this summer."



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