Arts for Arts Sake awards grants to local artists

Three local artists have been awarded $1,000 grants to further their career development, thanks to Arts For Arts Sake (AFAS).

Arts for Arts Sake awards grants to local artists
January 03
00:00 2019

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

Three local artists have been awarded $1,000 grants to further their career development, thanks to Arts For Arts Sake (AFAS). Shabaka James, Ramon Dickenson and Owens Daniels were honored with Wild Dog Initiative grants at the annual AFAS Christmas party held on Dec. 15.

AFAS began the Wild Dog Initiative in 2014 with board approval to give up to five grants annually in amounts up to $1,000. Julie Knabb, art director and chair of the arts education committees at AFAS, said, “We have always had mentoring programs, but felt we needed to offer something more personal to help artists develop and advance their careers.”

When talking with their member artists, she discovered that artists often didn’t have enough supplies or equipment to finish their work for a show. Emerging artists in particular lacked funds to cover such expenses as framing their art.

To be eligible for the grant, an artist must be a member of AFAS and had to submit a grant application that included such information as what work they had done so far, their future goals, what the money would be used for, and a budget. A three-member committee reviewed each request and the approval had to be unanimous among the committee members.

Arts for Arts Sake was started in 2007 when a small group of art enthusiasts came together with the idea of supporting local artists. They opened the Red Dog Gallery on Trade Street, and that led to organizing Arts on Sunday activities in May and September. AFAS was instrumental in the building of Artivity Park, a half-acre public art park on Liberty Street. The AFAS building downtown at 630 N. Liberty St. now houses the Red Dog Gallery, Studio 2, featuring jewelry and other wearable art, artist studio space for rent, and the Unleashed Arts Center, which is a community arts education center.

Harry Knabb, chairman of the AFAS Group, said they recognized the need for a gallery. “We felt emerging artists didn’t have a venue to show their art.” The Red Dog Gallery gives artists a place to introduce their art to the public and to offer it for sale.

Julie Knabb said, with gentrification occurring downtown, that the AFAS building would be a permanent anchor for the arts. “We didn’t want to some day see a plaque on Sixth & Trade Street that said, ‘The Arts District used to be here.’” Creating a permanent space where artists and the public could meet was an important goal of AFAS.

Currently, AFAS has over 600 members, including artists, craftsmen and writers. They will be adding performance art next year, as well as expanding their community outreach and education.

The grant recipients have varied goals for the use of their grants. Ramon Dickenson focuses on movement, photography and film, and hopes to complete a documentary on movement that is currently in progress.

Shabaka James is a portrait artist and will use the grant money to further develop his career as a portrait artist.

Owens Daniels, a photographer, is working on the “What About Me?” project, which involves older gay men and the effect of domestic and social abuse, using photography as a communication tool to tell stories. He will use the grant money to update his photography equipment.

Daniels said about receiving the award, “I want to thank AFAS for this award. It is a great honor to receive, it acknowledges all the hard work and commitment that goes into the role of an artist and energy it takes to pursue a project from beginning to end.” Daniels also commented about being a member of AFAS. “My membership and this award has taught me as an artist the value of support over dollars from the arts community, for it’s that support system that I could tap into and draw strength to create.”

Julie Knabb says that AFAS has big plans for 2019, including stepping up their adult education program and kicking off their Business of Art lecture series. With these new programs, “We’re putting our toes in the water,” she said.

For more information about AFAS, visit

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