When two female crafters and creators joined forces, the goal was to provide a community space for artists.
Monica Immel and Gina Shannon came together to form Avant Garde Collective, a business focused on helping local artisans find a space to help them grow, as well as give them a place to share and sell their art.
“This is a place for local artists and makers of all kinds to have a brick-and-mortar place to sell their wares,” Shannon said. “We wanted it to be open to all kinds of different styles of art in addition to a retail space and a space where we can hold community workshops and classes.”
While Immel grew up in Fredericksburg, Shannon moved to town about four years ago. The two met and decided that Fredericksburg needed a place that cultivated the artisan spirit as well as uplift local artists.
“We want to show care to these things that people are making with their hands,” Immel said.
Shannon was exposed to a similar environment when she lived in Seattle.
“I missed having a space where people could gather and share art and work together and I wanted to bring that here because places like this have helped me,” Shannon said.
Avant Garde Collective is a place similar to an artist cooperative where artists have access to tools and equipment that they wouldn’t normally own themselves.
“We are working toward having a comprehensive tool library that members can use and access as some of these things people might not have in their own homes,” Shannon said.
Artists pay a membership fee and have access to the space to create as well as an art community to collaborate with. They can also sell their art based on a consignment method.
With this in mind, Immel and Shannon also added the storefront so community members and tourists can support local makers.
“We wanted to also have a space and opportunity for makers to sell wares and connected with artists like themselves,” Immel said. “It creates a circular economy to support the artists and the makers that are living right here in Fredericksburg.”
“This can also vary depending on who walks through the door,” Shannon said.
Both Shannon and Immel know how challenging it can be for artists to get their name and products into the community.
“We have fine art, we have art from people who are just tinkering, we have skilled artists, we even have space for someone who wants to sell $5 earrings,” Shannon said. “Everyone has to start somewhere.”
Avant Garde Collective is currently accepting new artists and art.
“We are totally open to people and want to work with them to share their art,” Immel said.
Workshops and classes
In addition to having a space for displaying and selling art, Avant Garde also includes space for workshops and classes.
While more classes are being added in the New Year, knitting and yoga classes are already underway. They also plan to offer workshops for kids.
The name Avant Garde refers to people or works that are experimental, radical or unorthodox with respect to art, culture or society.
In the 19th century in France, artists pushed the envelope and created a new definition of what art is.
“I think that is the definition of what we are trying to bring in here. You don’t have to fit into the confines to have your work displayed or made here,” Shannon said.
Avant Garde Collective
• Owners: Gina Shannon and Monica Immel
• Established: 2020
• Address: 209 South Llano Street
• Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
• Website: www.makeshopgrow.com
• Social Media: Avant Garde Collective (Facebook)
• Primary business: Crafts and community