Arts Talk


Creative Conspiracy

Brothers add boutique, gallery to ‘SoCal’

By Bonnie Blackburn
Jake and Jes Farris may be the new faces of art in Fort Wayne, but they may well also be the new faces of an old side of town.

The brothers (Jake’s the older one) are owners of Conspiracy, a streetwear boutique and art gallery that opened last November on South Calhoun Street, just south of downtown. They’ve dubbed the area around their shop “SoCal” and it’s beginning to become a destination in and of itself.

Conspiracy is located next door to the Farrises’ tattoo shop, Studio 13 Downtown, across from Calhoun Street Soup, Salads and Spirits, where the brothers have helped bring in national tours, and down the road from the Oyster Bar.

“The store was a long time in the making,” Jake said. “I’m a longtime sneaker collector” who couldn’t find clothing to suit him and others he knew. So as his tattoo shops (there’s another one on Parnell Avenue) took off, he knew he had the opportunity to bring high-fashion streetwear to the city.

“I’ve always been one to do things that make me happy over financial gain,” Jake said. “The good thing is we have two other successful businesses whether (Conspiracy) makes money or not.”

The selection isn’t huge at Conspiracy, but it is high end. And the stark white walls of the store are perfect for hanging art, which is exactly the way the brothers planned it.

“We knew we needed to have art” as a part of the store, Jes said. “We have so many friends that are artists.”

The store’s first show was “The All-Seeing Eye” and featured variations on the concept of the eye. That was followed by a show of portraits by photographer Evan Perigo, and this month, they’re featuring a “postcard show,” where artists send art through the U.S. Postal Service to the shop.

“Some stuff will be in pristine condition, some won’t,” Jes said. “In September, we have ‘Star Wars vs. Dinosaurs.’ History meets science fiction.”

That show will spend two weeks in Fort Wayne before traveling to Off The Map tattoo shop in Easthampton, Mass.

“They are one of the premier art galleries and tattoo shops in the country,” Jes said.

“We’re taking the art shows on the road,” Jake said. “It’s gonna send a lot of Fort Wayne artists where they’ve never been. We’re really excited.”

For those who don’t see the relationship between tattooing and fine art, the Farris brothers would like you to think again.

“Tattooing is the last form of commissioned art,” Jake said. “Nobody wants to sit and have their family painted (anymore). But they do want to commemorate their families, so they do it as a tattoo.”

The artists the brothers employ have backgrounds in graphic design and fine arts, providing steady employment and an opportunity to stretch creatively.

“We’ve never looked at each other and said we can’t do that,” Jes said. “We’ve found that equation to … getting what we want. My brothers (there’s also John) influenced me in a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have been involved with, like hip hop and art.”

“My brothers are my best friends,” Jake said.

Posted: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 2:17 pm
Last updated: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 3:15 pm