We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Valerie Gillespie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Valerie, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
My husband Emmanuel Gillespie and myself have always had a love of the arts. We are both artists and art educators in Dallas. While we enjoy our work during the school year, we wanted to explore ways in which we could reach our students beyond the classroom. In addition, creating safe spaces for artists of all ages has always been an interest of ours. Pencil on Paper Gallery emerged from our love of arts, teaching, artists and community. The gallery provides a space for students to continue their love of the arts beyond school, and for artists to exhibit work to share with their communities.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a working visual artist, it has been an interesting balance merging business with creativity. I think one of the main things that sets Pencil on Paper Gallery apart from other galleries is that it is a business that is run for artists by artists. More importantly, we are visual artists that teach and not only have a passion for the arts, but for sharing this passion with our youth. When it comes to working with artists, there’s a humanity that we bring because we too are artists. It was not easy getting to this point, professionally. There were many challenges in building a business amidst working full-time jobs as educators. Overcoming these challenges meant working hard to organize and prioritize milestones in this journey. Pencil on Paper Gallery took many years to come into existence. It was a vision that my husband, Emmanuel and I had seen for a while, but timing was key. I feel that our ability to steadily stay the course on the way to our goals helped immensely in getting to this point. I’ve learned quite a bit from this process of building a brand. Among the many lessons I have learned, perhaps one of the most important, and one that I would want the world to know is that, relationships matter. There are so many people that you come into contact with throughout this process. I am grateful for the friendships and connections I have made. I feel that fostering healthy and formidable relationships where there is a genuine desire to create and grow mutually is imperative. I feel our story is built upon the many relationships that we have made in this journey. It is very much a collective celebration for everyone.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In the Dallas/Fort Worth area there is such a rich and expansive arts community! Among the list of museums that I would suggest, the African American Museum in Dallas ranks high. I also would recommend the South Dallas Cultural Center, where visitors have the opportunity to take in a show, visit an arts class over the weekend, or view Dallas-based artists’ exhibitions in the Arthello Beck Gallery. Other art galleries that I have come to know and love are Msanii HOUS Fine Art in Carrollton and of course, our gallery, Pencil on Paper Gallery just 7 minutes away in Farmers Branch! Favorite restaurants include the wonderfully delightful Recipe Oak Cliff and for dessert, Val’s Cheesecakes in Lower Greenville. Bishop Arts in Dallas offers amazing local shopping and food as well! The Island Spot in Bishop Arts is a great place to enjoy the night! Finally, one of my favorite of all time things to do in Dallas is visit Chocolate Secrets on Oak Lawn Avenue! They offer a variety of wine, chocolate, ice cream and other delights in an intimately divine setting where you can experience jazz and art most nights!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Much of the support we have received in our journey has stemmed from artists within our collectives, the students we teach, our school, the parents of our students, our collectors, donors, and mentors. It truly takes a village on the road to success and we are not blind to the amazing help that has graced our doors along the way! Dr. Harry Robinson, CEO of the African American Museum in Dallas has played a pivotal role in our connectivity to the arts and artists in our community. We also would be remiss in mentioning the guidance and friendship of artists Mr. Frank Frazier and Ms. Vicki Meek, both of whom have served as mentors for many years in our lives. These two individuals have paved the way for so many artists in our community. We are thankful for everyone and recognize the invaluable role each person we connect with brings.
Nominate someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.