Rebuilding from the Bombing
Ashley Bergeron, a talented art gallery owner and photographer, literally saw her life blow up as her home and The Studio 208 gallery were damaged in the 2020 Christmas Day bombing on Second Ave. in Nashville. Ashley is the model of resiliency in a year when so many obstacles have faced Nashvillians. Her new gallery Swipe Right Art is in the new Fifth + Broadway development that recently opened as Nashville is beginning to come back to life.
What should we know about Ashley?
In 2021, Ashley opened her newest concept, Swipe Right Art, an art, furniture and floral showroom in the hottest new spot in Nashville at Fifth + Broadway. She is also in the process of launching a digital platform connecting the world of art. Her new gallery has the greatest view of the famous Ryman Auditorium in the city. In addition to her galleries, Ashley has worked to transform Nashville through art. She volunteered with many great organizations, including the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, to start a mural program connecting creatives to the business community for mutual exposure through art. She also transformed Nashville’s public transit through commissioning artists to design some of the city’s buses, turning them into moving platforms that showcase the work of local artists around the city and is working on the visuals for the new transit center in North Nashville.
How does Ashley blend her photography and gallery owner hats? How did she move from photography to gallery owner?
Ashley started her photography studio in downtown Nashville in 2001. In 2017, she accidentally began her gallery. She had been using art for her photography backgrounds and then she began to get busy with the art she was showing. Ashley says, “Energy flows where focus goes” and to her point, an art gallery was born.
How did the events of Christmas day affect Ashley?
Ashley was out of town when the bombing happened. Her intuition led her to reschedule her flight to December 26. She learned her building was still standing but she didn’t know what else was left of her building and her friends on Second Ave. Subsequently she found out that the windows had been blown out but she saved much of her artworks.
There was a grouping of murals she arranged that was damaged in the explosion. What will happen there? Ashley worked with the Chamber to connect artists with the community through murals. It was a collaboration between the city, the nonprofit The District, the Downtown Partnership, Jive, a print shop, and The Studio 208. AT&T allowed use of their building for the series of murals. They were eight local female artists who participated. AT&T plans to add art back to the area that was damaged. Additionally, with a new sponsor, Ashley’s group is going to paint all the boarded-up windows on Second Ave. until they are repaired. And then the group is going to donate the art to community organizations.
How did she get a new gallery up and running by in just a few months?
Ashley had an introduction with Fifth + Broadway earlier in 2020. She was hired to bring ten local artists to do a local campaign for the new center. Plans included living painting, murals and more. But then COVID-19 happened. And then the bombing. A meeting was scheduled for the first week of January 2021, pending an opening for the center in 2021. The Fifth + Broadway management was amazed at what had happened in such a short time. They offered Ashley space in the new development for her gallery. Ashley did a call for art themed around Beginning Anew and had artists submit. And the Wednesday night before the opening, she gave the space a new name–Swipe Right Art–to match perfect art with perfect collectors.
Ashley likes to connect artists to buyers. What does that mean for the gallery?
Ashley says she loves art but she actually collects artists. Ashley believes that art is energy that has been put into the canvas and comes out of the canvas to the viewer. She tries to nurture the artists so their best work can come out. Her new gallery allows visitors to come in and get immersed in the art and then the artists. Her new online platform will match artists in their own area with collectors, further creating more of a bond between the artist and the collector, allowing them to view the art locally.
Are women artists getting the attention their art deserves?
Women continue to be underrepresented in many areas. Only 14% of all exhibitions were either solo female artists or group exhibitions where the majority were women. But the gender gap is beginning to change for women and minorities. There is a movement to elevate and uplift women in art like an all-female mural festival in Canada and one recently held in Nashville. Ashley’s experience reveals women artists are the least likely to brag about their work while men will come in with their portfolio, full of confidence about their work.
Resources and Links
Swipe Right Gallery at Fifth + Broadway https://swiperight.art