Alumni transform shed into art gallery

VCUarts alumni Noah Hook and Kim Peters stand outside their backyard shed, which will soon become the Rump Gallery. Photo by Jon Mirador

Andrew Ringle, Managing Editor

The shed behind the house in South Highland Park was overgrown and full of junk when alumni Kim Peters and Noah Hook first moved into the neighborhood in July. The unassuming structure was a forgotten storage space — like many garden sheds, its contents became neglected over time as nature slowly reclaimed its territory with an army of weeds and tiny insects.

 It’s now cleaned out and nearly revitalized, standing about 12 feet tall with a small six-paned window and a white screen door on its face. And the shed’s latest caretakers, best friends Hook and Peters, are transforming it into a public art gallery called the Rump.

Described on Instagram as “a dirty shed for fine art,” the Rump Gallery intends to break the mold of prestigious exhibition spaces. There’s no application fee, and it will be available for almost any kind of artistic gathering by early September.

“We’re trying to take away from the class of gallerists,” Peters said. “Gallery and art has a sense of prestige to it, so we’re trying to strip it down.”

Hook and Peters both graduated from VCUarts this spring, and they’ve been friends since meeting in the Artist’s Colony at Johnson Hall their freshman year. Hook studied painting and printmaking, and Peters studied graphic design. Peters also worked as a Student Media Center graphic designer at The Commonwealth Times.

The pair started restoring the shed as soon as they moved into their new house with two other roommates in July. They quickly realized how the space might be useful for local artists hoping to show work.

“Noah took an immediate interest in the shed and wanted to clear it out,” Peters said. “And then it wasn’t until later when we were like, ‘Oh, we should turn it into a gallery.’”

Hook said he found about 26 buckets of paint, which he stashed around the yard and in the crawlspace, a king-size mattress and construction materials while gutting the formerly neglected shed.

“The shed is its own entity,” Hook said.  “People are going to come in the first time and be like, ‘Oh, we’re in this dark dirty shed. What’s going on here?’ … But at the same time, it’s coming with none of the high pristine pressures that a white wall gallery space is going to have.”

Rump Gallery
Noah Hook and Kim Peters stand in their backyard outside the shed that will soon become the Rump Gallery. Photo by Jon Mirador
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Hook and Peters are both artists, and they’ve experienced firsthand the inaccessibility of professional art galleries. They say their humble shed can be a safe space for artists with experimental and unfinished projects, which might be rejected by the ritzy curators of other institutions.

“I think that Richmond specifically could use a lot more space for young emerging artists to be able to show their work and do it cheaply in a way that really is benefiting them more than anyone,” Hook said.

But the Rump isn’t trying to be something it’s not — Hook and Peters say they realize it’s just a shed, and they want incoming artists to know what to expect.

“We’re just asking people to acknowledge the fact that it’s a shed, and maybe the work that you’re putting in a gallery that has lights, electricity and air conditioning is different than the work that you’re going to be putting in the Rump Gallery,” Peters said.

The first artist scheduled to show work at the Rump is LaRissa Rogers, an alumna of the painting and printmaking department. Hook said he couldn’t speak to the nature of Rogers’ work, but he’s excited to host her in September.

The Rump is open to hosting a variety of events this fall, including performances, film viewings, artist talks and workshops. To apply or to find more information, visit noahhook.net.

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