What happens when two artists walk into a bar?
Ask textile artist Tobiah Mundt and painter Kim Anderson and you’ll get the same answer: It’s an immediate connection. Both women relocated to Charlottesville with their families, Mundt from northern Virginia and Anderson from Nebraska, and sought a stronger connection to the art community. This past January, Mundt was looking for a studio and felt the space where she created her wool sculptures shouldn’t be “quiet and lonely.” After her children started attending school, Anderson reached a similar conclusion: When surrounded by people, she became a better artist.
The two connected during Craft CVille’s Galentine’s Day pop-up over their shared vision for a creative and collaborative maker space. Eight months and one big renovation later, that vision will become a reality. On October 6, Mundt and Anderson will open The Hive, an art-and-craft lounge in McIntire Plaza where visitors can order up an art project along with coffee, small bites, beer, or wine.
“The art bar is 16 feet long,” Mundt says. “The [project] tray comes with instructions and everything you need. You’ll be able to order from a seasonal menu that will change.”
For Anderson, what makes the space unique is that visitors can walk in anytime the lounge is open and create a tangible work of art. The price of each art project on The Hive’s menu will range from $1 to $20. Coffee and treats come from Milli Coffee Roasters and Paradox Pastry.
“You’re engaging with the arts without having to invest,” Anderson says.
The lounge’s décor also celebrates the work of local artists and entrepreneurs. Sculptor Lily Erb created The Hive’s sign and a fence surrounding an interior play area for children, and Wade Cotton of Timber Made Company created the lounge’s bar from fallen trees around Charlottesville.
Four art studios for rent inside the lounge will be named after African American-owned businesses demolished in the razing of Vinegar Hill. So far, two of the four studios have been named after Carr’s and Bell’s, Vinegar Hill businesses Mundt identified with the help of Tanesha Hudson, an activist and executive producer of the forthcoming documentary A Legacy Unbroken: The Story of Black Charlottesville.
“When my husband told me we were moving here, I Googled Charlottesville,” Mundt remembers. She says the history of Vinegar Hill was the first thing she found. “I had to ask myself, ‘How can I raise my family here? How can I build my business to honor what happened here?’”
In addition to hosting maker workshops that range from bows and arrows to bath bombs, Mundt says there will be more programming at The Hive that celebrates African American artists and professionals who have contributed to the Charlottesville community. UVA English professor and seamstress Lisa Woolfork will lead evening sewing classes in the lounge’s mezzanine workshop area. Mundt discovered Woolfork and her work by following the Instagram hashtag #cvilleart, which led her to Woolfork’s account @blackwomenstitch.
“I was like, ‘Is she in Charlottesville? There are black women in Charlottesville sewing?’ So I contacted Lisa,” says Mundt. “She keeps sending me project ideas. The number-one thing people have asked for is sewing classes.”
Anderson and Mundt will serve as craft-tenders behind the bar to provide tools and fuel for visitors purchasing an art project. When they’re not helping with a workshop or hosting a private party, Mundt and Anderson hope to find time for their own artistic pursuits. Anderson wants to continue teaching custom chalk painting and stenciling classes. Mundt plans to sculpt her wool creatures when the space isn’t busy. She says it will be an interesting artistic challenge, as much of Mundt’s work is deeply personal. Her needle-felted creations are simultaneously haunting and child-like, akin to the stuff of science-fiction monsters or a child’s nightmare.
“I think a lot of people make assumptions about my work and about me,” Mundt says. “The Hive is an open place. I want people to ask about [my work]. What’s scary about it? Not all of our artists are sugary sweet artists. …Everyone has many sides to them.”
Two artists with studios in The Hive are multi-media printmaker Emily Vanderlinden and jewelry maker Kelly Cline. Anderson and Mundt will rent the studios on a yearly basis and hope to add more artists and studios in the future. They also plan to take The Hive on the road by hosting workshops for children in the hospital.
“If you don’t have the words, you put it in sculpture or draw it,” says Mundt. “We want to make art in alternative ways.”
On any given day, Mundt says kids visiting the lounge might get to paint on the wall with their feet, or they might use “loads and loads” of what Anderson and Mundt cite as most parents’ least favorite art material: glitter.
“It will become a beautiful patina on our floor,” Anderson says.