When you walk into an art space, it’s natural to feel swept away. The glamour, complexity and artistry contain an allure that tends to sweep the viewer away. Similar to the breathtaking murals outside Oak Lawn stores or the brand new installation at the Dallas Museum of Art, this magnetic phenomenon can also be found walking through the gates of Trade Oak Cliff at 1300 South Polk Street.
Inside Suite 274, Trade Oak Cliff serves as an escape from the mundane and an entry point into an accessible cooperative art space and boutique founded by Corrie Pocta and Brooke Chaney, who goes by the name of the artist MOM. The two bold and powerful co-owners formulated the idea for the boutique in 2020, which saw the light of day a year later. The shop is run alongside their cooperative peers to bring art to Dallas in a way that is accessible to everyone.
Pocta and MOM spoke to FrontRow on their community approach to art and future plans for the Oak Cliff studio.
When did you start Trade Oak Cliff and what made you want to open this? [The concept of Trade Oak Cliff] started in fall 2020. Technically we opened in September 2021. For a long time I had a vision of a studio space where clients could see artists making art with a small business allowing artists to sell their work directly. [The barrier] found artists able to pay rent because none of us were able to pay rent on our [own]. We decided not to invest because we wanted an unconventional format for Trade Oak Cliff. We didn’t want to worry about the influence of our investors, in order to preserve our voice. —CP
How do your experiences as art teachers influence this project? For seven years, I taught art to high school students, so it was in my nature to organize art spaces. At the time, I was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), where I was active in social organizing. That’s when I decided to focus on my own space, where I could make art and organize myself in my community. I didn’t want to lose my identity as an art teacher, but I was jaded by the education system and ready to step into my own. —CP
I taught for two years. I left teaching because I wanted to do more. I have excellent relations with my former students, we talk to each other from time to time, but I wanted to bet on myself. —MOM
You also organize art classes, which seems to be that the teachers in you are always very active. My point of view for the courses is that I want to introduce people to the art, not to be a permanent teacher of ceramics. I want people to come and have a good time. I would like to grow and focus on more events with corporations, family groups and small businesses. —CP
The courses are accessible to beginners and people trying to reclaim their profession. With my courses, I offer education and guidance. I will walk around helping people on whatever they are working on. Also, I have a chill out element where we drink and paint. —MOM
What art mediums can people expect to find at Trade? Corrie is a ceramist who works with leather. I paint and do tailoring. Installing vinyl is becoming more of a thing for me. Niki Dionne also does textiles and digital prints. Molly Sydnor does textile work focused on weaving. She also creates her own newspaper and makes clothes. Charlie Miranda is a painter, she does figurative painting and portraits. Quirky retail takes care of the vintage corner of the store. —MOM
Do you have a philosophy that you follow in the art studio and the space? Trade Oak Cliff appeared at the start of the pandemic, when everyone was isolated. We wanted to empower local artists and creators who wanted to take a risk on themselves, and show them that it is possible to host a space and give people a place to commune. —MOM
I am very passionate about supply chain issues. Current manufacturing processes are not sustainable. I think it’s a big topic right now for young people who are paying attention to how materials are made and who is being exploited in the process. For me, it was really important to provide a sustainable alternative to educate people. I wanted people to have a visual of how art was created and to say that everything commercially made was made by artists in the spaces. [To] being able to connect with people about how things are done is a big part of my mission. —CP
How do you want customers to feel when they enter Trade Oak Cliff? Chill, as if they were at home. I want to feel comfortable in a relaxed, accessible, inviting and community atmosphere. —MOM
We designed the space to invite people to engage with their hands and their bodies. [We] hope people will ask us questions instead of having a sterile approach. We encourage people to be curious about space and to engage, interact, touch and smell. We hope it is a holistic sensory and tactile experience. —CP
Could you explain to me the meaning of MOM? I am a Cancer, which is the mother of the zodiac. In some pockets of my friendships, I was the mom-friend, especially in college. Everyone came to me for advice. A friend of mine started calling me MOM and then other people started calling me. One day while I was at work and wanted to start an Etsy shop and needed a name, Made by MOM came to mind, so I stick with it. —MOM
What’s in store for the future of Trade Oak Cliff? We want to expand our programming, so we are able to offer classes more often and regularly. We want to hold a regular market every month to spotlight artists and create networking opportunities. One thing we are working on is more collaborations between artists in our space and finding ways to be more in community with each other. We are also working on free educational events, clothing swaps, mending classes, and spread swaps. —MOM