Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Caleb Jack left the door open while working at a studio above Artisan’s Collective in Oak Cliff.

When people walking by asked what he was doing, he invited them inside to experiment with his art supplies.

“They would say, ‘I can’t do anything,’” Jack says. “Three hours later it’d be like, ‘Alright dude, are you done?’”

His enthusiasm for art even motivated his grandmother, Lynda Sparks, to experiment. She’s devoted hours to perfecting handmade jewelry, making hats and concocting quirky collages of cats’ heads on humans’ bodies. 

So it is ironic that neither Sparks nor Jack is comfortable calling themselves artists. 

“We make stuff. We’re creative people,” Jack says. “When you compare yourself to some really great people, it’s hard to throw yourself in the same ring as them.”

Jack’s collages, paintings and mixed-media works have been displayed at Artisan’s Collective and shipped across the globe to Germany and South Africa. The Bishop Arts gallery gave local artists the opportunity to showcase their works in a down-to-earth, accessible space. 

The rising value of real estate forced Ted Matthews to shutter the gallery in 2017. Property owners more than doubled the monthly rent.

Determined to carry on Artisan’s Collective’s tradition, Jack and Sparks opened the Art Annex in Lake Highlands on Valentine’s Day 2018, exactly one year after the Bishop Arts gallery and shop’s closure. The gallery replaced Makers Connect at an unassuming strip mall near Audelia Road and Northwest Highway.

Sparks sells her work at the shop, but Jack has replaced creating pieces with running the shop’s day-to-day operations.

“I prefer to give other people space to sell their work,” he says. “I’m done. I can die happy. I achieved more than I ever imagined at Artisan’s, so I’m good.”

Jack and Sparks acknowledge that an art gallery isn’t a high-demand business, but they say giving the neighborhood access to local art is worth the risk. 

“They need it whether they know it or not,” Sparks says.