I met up with Claibourne Reppert, owner of The Honeycomb Salon and Gallery, at her renovated warehouse apartment just before 10 on a Sunday morning. She was cooking hashbrowns and slowly waking up after a late night performing as the lead singer of The Sharkettes, a fictional girl group put together for local math metal band Sharkopath’s latest music video. Her tiny orange kitten chased a green sock back and forth across the wooden floor and Gaston, her English bulldog (adopted from a Frenchman), tried to balance himself on a shiny red ball. Huge, brightly painted canvases and sculpture were stacked against the walls and balanced in corners in a makeshift gallery archive.
Reppert has been styling hair and setting trends in D.C. and Charlottesville since 2006, winning the Best of C-VILLE hairstylist award in 2011 and 2012. In June 2012, riding off her success at Moxie Hair & Body Lounge, she opened her own shop, The Honeycomb Salon and Gallery on East Market Street, parlaying her sense of style and tastemaking into the local art scene.
A year after opening, with a growing client list and the demands of booking out artists and promoting events mounting, Reppert hired her brother-in-law, Ryan Trott, most recently of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to take over management of the gallery.
Trott, a visual artist and musician himself, joined Reppert and C-VILLE with some strong coffee and Carpe donuts for a conversation about the future of The Honeycomb Gallery and Charlottesville’s subversive art scene.
C-VILLE: Why did you decide to start up a gallery in addition to the salon? You weren’t busy enough?
Claibourne Reppert: “Originally, the idea for the gallery came because the space I rented for The Honeycomb was just too much space for me. I wanted to do something interesting that kind of gave back to the community and cultivated more of the environment that I want at the salon—the people that the art shows attract are the clients I want and vice versa. There’s a nice crossover.”
One problem with that is I’ve been to one of your openings where a client has tried to get you to cut her hair in the middle of it…
Ryan Trott: “Is that really true?”
CR: “Oh, yeah. You get ’em a little drunk and they’re like, ‘I feel like this side is a little shorter than this side…’”
How would you describe the artwork you feature for someone who’s never been to the gallery?
CR: “Younger, funkier, and maybe a bit edgier… God, are these all horrible buzz words? [laughs] I mean, one show we had was all just wizards. It was all 4/20, wizards, and weed, and I was like, ‘This is awesome!’”
Does that create a contrast between the gallery and the salon crowd?
CR: “Definitely. Many of my clients are on the more conservative side, so it’s kind of fun to have those two extremes. The gallery is in line with my personality so I like being all, ‘O.K., you need to go sit down there with the art for an hour while your highlights process. Have fun looking at all these wizards.’”
RT: [laughs] “Yeah, you can read People or you can look at some cool art.”
CR: “Some clients who don’t have time or interest in going out to galleries can do both. I love having a St. Anne’s [-Belfield School] mom come in for a cut and browse the gallery and be like, ‘Oh wow, that’s a woman [having sex with] a deer.’”
So, I know you also don’t charge a commission on any of the work sold in your gallery. That’s pretty rare—what prompted that decision?
CR: “Well, I don’t pay for advertising for the salon and I feel that the little bit of money that I put into the openings is my form of advertising. Also, with a lack of commission, I’ve been amazed at how affordably artists are pricing their work. They sell really well. The only commission I take is a piece of art.”
You have a piece from every show?
CR: “Yeah, I’m stocking up my own little collection. I think it’ll be cool after The Honeycomb ceases to exist to have a record of all the shows.”
Do you guys want it to stay focused on mostly local artists?
RT: “I definitely want to branch out. I’ve reached out to people in Baltimore, it would be nice to mix it up so it’s not mostly friends at the openings. It’s cool that a lot of artists we know in D.C. and New York have Charlottesville connections too.”
What are your plans for the gallery moving forward?
RT: “We have a show in August with Daniel Cundiff from the Roanoke band Eternal Summers, which will be the first show I’m really involved with. And I’ve been going back and forth with Jamie Morgan who is lined up to be our show for July. We’ve got some lighting renovations planned, and I’m also getting a library going in the gallery. It’ll feature contemporary art books that visitors can flip through. It’s kind of a funny space (the ceilings are only 6’2″), so we’re talking to artists about creating alternative installations. I’m really excited to connect with the gallery community here.”
CR: “The haircutting pays the rent and the gallery is just for fun. We’ll keep doing it as long as it’s fun.”
“Apocalyptic Dentistry,” a sculptural jewelry installation by Jamie Morgan, is on view at The Honeycomb Salon and Gallery through the month of July. The opening reception is Friday, July 5, from 5-9pm and will feature a candy buffet and music by DJ Shay Shay the Wulf Baby.