When you walk into an art space, it’s natural to feel whisked away. The glamor, intricacy, and artistry contains an allure that tends to sweep the viewer up. Similar to the breathtaking murals outside the shops of Oak Lawn or the newest installation at the Dallas Museum of Art, this magnetic phenomenon is also found by walking through the doors of Trade Oak Cliff at 1300 South Polk Street.
Inside suite 274, Trade Oak Cliff serves as an escape from the mundane and entry point into an accessible cooperative art space and shop founded by Corrie Pocta and Brooke Chaney, who goes by the artist moniker MOM. The two bold and powerful co-owners formulated the idea for the shop in 2020, which come to life a year later. The shop is run alongside their co-op peers to bring art to Dallas in a way that is accessible to everyone.
Pocta and MOM spoke to FrontRow about their community-focused approach to art and future plans for the Oak Cliff studio.
When did you start Trade Oak Cliff and what inspired you to open it? [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 customers could view artists making art with a small business component for artists to sell their work directly. [The barrier] was finding artists in a position to afford rent because none of us were in a position to afford rent on our [own]. We decided against investors because we wanted an unconventional format for Trade Oak Cliff. We did not want to worry about the influence of our investors, so we could preserve our voice. —CP
How does your experiences as art teachers influence this project? For seven years, I taught art to high schoolers, so it was in my nature to organize art spaces. At the time, I was a member of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), where I was active in social organization. That was when I decided to focus on my own space, where I was able to make art and organize in my community. I did not want to lose my identity as an art teacher, but I got jaded by the education system, and was ready to enter my own. —CP
I taught for two years. I left teaching because I wanted to do more. I have great relationships with my former students, we talk occasionally, but I wanted to bet on myself. —MOM
You also host art classes, which seems like the teachers in you are still very much in action. My perspective for classes is that I want to introduce people to art, not be an ongoing ceramics teacher. I want people to come in and have a good time. I would like to grow and focus on more events with corporate organizations, family groups, and small businesses. —CP
The classes are accessible to beginners and people trying to re-enter their craft. With my classes, I offer education and guidance. I will walk around to help people on whatever they are working on. Also, I have a hang out component where we drink and paint. —MOM
What mediums of art can people expect to find at Trade? Corrie is a ceramicist who does leather work. I paint and do apparel work. Vinyl installation is becoming more of a thing for me. Niki Dionne doest textile work and digital prints as well. Molly Sydnor does textile work that is focused in weaving. She also creates her own paper and does apparel. Charlie Miranda is a painter, she does figurative painting and portraits. Unusual retail handles the vintage corner of the shop. —MOM
Do you have a philosophy that you abide by in art studio and space? Trade Oak Cliff emerged during the beginning stages of the pandemic where everyone was in self-isolation. We wanted to empower local artists and makers who wanted to take a risk on themselves, and show them that is possible to host space and give people a place to commune. —MOM
I am very passionate about supply chain issues. Current manufacturing process are not sustainable. I think that is a major topic right now for young people who pay attention to how materials are made and who is 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 the art was made, and say everything made in Trade was made by artists in the spaces. [To] be able to connect with people about how things are made is a big part of my mission. —CP
How do you want customers to feel when they enter Trade Oak Cliff? Chill, like if they were at home. I want to feel comfortable in a relaxed atmosphere that is accessible, inviting, and communal. —MOM
We designed the space to invite people to engage with their hands and bodies. [We] hope people will ask us questions instead of having a sterile approach. We encourage people to be curious about the 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 behind MOM? I am a Cancer, which is the mother of the zodiac. In certain pockets of my friendships, I was the mom-friend, especially in college. Everyone would come to me for advice. One of my friends started to call me MOM, then other people started to of so. One day, when I was at work and wanted to make a shop of Etsy and needed a name, Made by MOM, popped into my head, so I stick with it. —MOM
What is in the store for the future of Trade Oak Cliff? We want to extend our programming, so we are able to offer classes more often and regularly. We want to have a regular market held every month to spotlight artists and create opportunities to network. One thing that we are working on is more collaborations amongst artists in our space, and figuring out ways to be more in community with each other. We are also working on free educational events, clothing swaps, mending classes, and propagation swap. —MOM