The Dire Wolf Collective set to open Function storefront 

New summer pop up to feature artist workspace, workshops and store

click to enlarge SUBMITTED - it's a sign Kate Zessel puts the finishing touches on the new sign for The Dire Wolf Collective.
  • Submitted
  • it's a sign Kate Zessel puts the finishing touches on the new sign for The Dire Wolf Collective.

Kate Zessel might be opening The Dire Wolf Collective in an attempt to get out of her house, but there will be an awful lot of similarities between the two places.

For one, Zessel owns a piece of work from nearly every artist who's featured in her new storefront/workspace. "Everyone I have in the space I have bought something of theirs previously," she says, with a laugh. "It just kind of happened that way."

Zessel has been working from home as a freelance graphic designer for four years—the last two, full time. "I felt so cooped up in my house," she explains. "I was like, 'This is crazy; I can't keep doing this.' Everyone goes to work and comes home and does their chores and has dinner and relaxes. I've found for the last two years I've just worked non-stop because there's nowhere to shut it off."

To that end, when the opportunity came up to sublease a space in Function Junction from a friend for a six-month stint, Zessel jumped at it. She envisions a place where she and other artists can work and host workshops alongside a storefront that will sell goods from local artists.

"The idea is every summer we re-open with different artists as a pop up—different workshops and artists," she says. "You walk into the space where artists are actually working and producing work and you can buy it right away and have interactions with them."

When she began to think about inviting other artists to join, she thought about what she would want as an artist. Ultimately, she decided to run it on a consignment basis and take a small percentage to cover the cost of running the space.

"It's a horrible business model for me, but I wanted an office space ... and I wanted people to come in and be part of it. If artists want to work in the space they can, if they want to do workshops they can. It's just giving a place back to artists," she says.

So far, the space—set to open on May 17—will feature an array of handcrafted, local goods like paintings and prints from Andrea Mueller, leatherwork by Morgan Green, macramé from LoveCraft Collective, as well as jewelry, pottery and blankets. She also collaborated with Hollow Tree to create a custom scent for the store.

"We're going to see what the space looks like with the amount (the current roster of artists are) bringing," Zessel says. "I meet people all the time and I say, 'Oh you should put stuff in!' At this point we're on hold. We're going to open the doors, get everyone in and see what it looks like and feels like and see if there's space for more people."

Zessel also recruited her jack-of-all-trades friend JennaMae Webb (who you might best know as a local musician) to help get the collective off the ground. "She's been the most incredible person and partner," she says. "She was FaceTiming me from Michael's (craft store) yesterday finding stuff for the store."

So far, the project has been a lesson in patience, she adds. Unforeseen bumps have added up to a last-minute scramble to find a sign builder and a slightly delayed opening. But she's taking it all in stride.

"This is a good experience and learning curve to figure out what works and what doesn't work and when we come back next year to be on point with things," she says. "It could go amazingly without any hiccups—from the past few months I don't know if that (will be) the case."

The plan is to have the space open to public from Thursday to Monday from around 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. "Hopefully it grows and evolves to other artists wanting to work in the space," she says. "Right now (it's) let's just work on getting the doors open and fall into a rhythm."

For more information find The Dire Collective at direwolfcollective.wordpress.com.

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