There’s no end to the artistic talent in Woodlawn. Now, there’s Commonplace, a new space aiming to offer creatives a place to both make and showcase their work. We recently asked Commonplace owner Jared Fulton a few questions about the new facility:
Can you describe your new space?
Commonplace is a collective of creatives working in a 3,000 square foot building in Birmingham, Alabama in the Woodlawn Neighborhood. We showcase creators, host community-related events and exhibitions, and provide an opportunity to join a community of like-minded people by offering affordable studio spaces. Commonplace is a communal facility holding up to 10 workspaces for artists, crafters, designers and other creative professionals. Commonplace encourages innovation, collaboration, and experimentation in every medium.
Why did you choose Woodlawn for your shared art space? What attracted you to the neighborhood?
In 2008 I started an architecture firm located in Woodrow Hall, the old masonic temple, now an event venue in Woodlawn. The potential, the infrastructure, the people, the history of Woodlawn all excited me about the possibility of Woodlawn as a thriving community. I cherish the establishments that bring both sides of Birmingham together and “blend the lines”. Woodlawn has been very successful in doing this.
What kind of engagement have you done or do you plan to do with the neighborhood?The building has only been open to renters for a few months. There are a few thoughts on how to engage with the neighborhood. We really want the space to be open to the public and a safe place for the community to gather. One thought is to create an artist’s residency with free rent to selected applicants. The artist would propose an art installation or interaction that would engage with the community. The gallery could serve as a place to display the artwork to the neighborhood. Another thing that we are interested in doing is teaching high school students the design process through creating in the woodshop, think high design shop class. Students would design and build a piece of furniture learning the design process while acquiring practical woodworking skills. Finally, we have discussed reaching out to the high school art teachers to have an open studio event where students interact with artists in a Q and A session.
Tell me about plans to make woodworking tools and other equipment available for local artists.The building consists of creative studio spaces, an open gallery space and a woodshop. The artists renting the space have full access to the woodworking shop.
Magic City Match is a program that transforms lives and opens doors for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. Led by REV Birmingham and powered by Prosper, this initiative aims to create opportunities for Black-owned businesses by matching them with brick-and-mortar spaces where they can thrive. After a successful pilot program in 2022, Magic City Match is back in action and ready to empower a new wave of entrepreneurs.
One of the most legendary and storied neighborhoods of Birmingham is Woodlawn. It is a community, anchored by one of the great public high schools of Birmingham, that has produced many citizens who contributed to the life of our city and has had an impact beyond the neighborhood itself. In a short post like this true justice cannot be done to the rich heritage and legacy of Woodlawn. However, we hope that this narrative brings together many of the diverse threads that make up the fabric of the community’s historic arc in a concise piece.
Woof, woof! I’ve been having an absolute blast visiting my sister in Downtown Birmingham. I can hardly wait to share all the details with you once you return from your vacation. In the meantime, I wanted to put paw to paper and tell you all about it, with the hope of convincing you that moving Downtown could be the most wonderful decision ever.