Hilary Nauman and Michael Boyd are taking DIY to the next level with Shrewdness of Apes, their new Covington, Ky., gallery-boutique.
After participating in what she calls a “makers’ movement” of arts markets across the region, Nauman says she and Boyd were inspired to create a more permanent home for emerging artists and makers.
Veterans of the travelling pop-up shop scene, the two still have day jobs. Nauman works for a nonprofit while Boyd is a trained graphic designer working in quality assurance. Despite working full-time, the duo was quick to turn what was once a shared daydream into reality.
“We thought of the idea and just decided to go for it,” Nauman says. “We wanted to do our own thing and create a space that piqued your interest.”
As soon as they hatched the idea, Nauman says she and Boyd decided on the perfect name for their gallery-to-be: Shrewdness of Apes.
“‘Shrewdness’ is the term used to describe a group of apes — like a flock of seagulls or a herd of sheep — which fits perfectly with our desire to curate work from a diverse group of artists,” Nauman says. “The word ‘shrewd’ has some negative connotations, but the true definition is, ‘having good judgment,’ so ‘Shrewdness of Apes’ works on many levels for who we are as a gallery — plus it just sounds pretty damn interesting.”
After settling on a name, everything else fell into place for the couple.
“I don’t think we realized it was actually happening until we signed the lease,” Nauman says. “We looked at Cincinnati venues, then happened upon this space in Covington. It was the right place, the right time and the right people. It was a whirlwind.”
Covington’s spirit sealed the deal, Nauman says.
“There’s a great vibe here — not to mention we’re across the street from the Covington Arts Center,” she says. “We still love Cincinnati, but Covington has this up-and-coming, vibrant energy that matches our vision perfectly. There are so many small businesses; Covington even has an art director for the city. Everyone’s excited about celebrating community here. That’s what we want our gallery to be all about.”
Nauman and Boyd are committed to making Shrewdness of Apes one-of-a-kind in every aspect — from its art to its focus on community and emerging artists.
“We want to pair a mix of artists who show regularly with those who aren’t quite established yet,” Nauman says, “or who may not think about putting their work out there — people who may not be professional artists.”
Nauman and Boyd hope to give pop-up market participants and up-and-coming makers a venue dedicated to celebrating their work.
“We still love the pop-up markets and all the fleas,” says Nauman, who got her start in art by setting up shop with her partner at festivals like The City Flea and Folksiders. “But there’s still a void to fill. Shops all over the place promote art — coffee houses, boutiques, libraries — but most of them do it as a sidebar or an after-note. We’re filling the need for a space committed to artists from just about anywhere who create one-of-a-kind handmade pieces across all mediums.”
Through themed group exhibits that mix high-end art with pieces that won’t break the bank, Boyd and Nauman aim to make art more accessible, with “art for all” as their mantra.
“Our gallery is one of those places where you know you’re getting something you can’t find anywhere else — and if we can offer that for less than $50, then that’s just fabulous. We’re thrilled to show our own art alongside other artists we admire,” Nauman says.
Despite a love for the handmade, the gallery is more than an in-person Etsy or Pinterest, Nauman says; empowering the masses to become makers is another item on Nauman and Boyd’s long list of hopes for their gallery.
“With this maker-mania going on, we want to give more people the confidence to create,” Nauman says. “Community classes and co-ops are in our future. We want to empower emerging artists to show off their work, and sort of liberate people who may not feel confident enough to make something of their own, and encourage them to put their own stamp on the term ‘artist.’”
“That’s what we want to stand for — making more artists,” she continues. “It’s such a huge description and an incredibly diverse crowd — why not make it even bigger and really create a shrewdness in Shrewdness of Apes?”
For more information on SHREWDNESS OF APES, visit shrewdnessofapesgallery.com.