The parking lot is adjacent to the humble-looking Case Good Warehouse, the least renovated and one of the smallest among the 44 heritage buildings in the Distillery District. Entering the low-ceiling lobby (a rarity in the District), I saw only a handful of galleries/workshops. To my left is Lilith, a “sustainable hand-crafted clothing studio”, in other words, a tailor shop. A lady in her 40s was working alone attentively on a piece of colorful garment. Across the hallway is a china shop, or to be precise, a “dish studio”. A lady was burying her face in a book. To my right is Tank, a jewelry and beads studio/store. It also seemed to be one of the busier stores with more visitors wandering around. All those stores were full of objects.
The one with more open space was a small art gallery facing me, and I walked in. A lady was writing something but she raised her head and greeted me. Noticing the exhibition here was a curious mixture of realist, impressionist and abstract art, I started to ask questions. Then I introduce myself and my ethnography project. Although my art knowledge was very limited, to my surprise, we immediately struck a conversation on a deeper level. Depiction, abstraction, interpretation, style, self-expression, communication, utility and social reception are topics salient both in art and anthropology. So are the tensions between objects and symbols, self and others. After more than forty-minutes’ talk, we agreed to have a formal interview in the coming weeks.
Then I walked on towards the Young Center for the Arts, the only establishment in the Distinct I had visited many times before with great interest.