Last weekend, Robert and Holly Freeman celebrated the soft opening of their latest project the Columbia Arts Building at 307 W. 11th Street. The couple also owns Freeman Farm Miniature Cows, so needless to say they are a busy family. We caught up with them this week to discuss their new venture with the Arts building, as well as Aaron Rudd who, along with his wife Jenny, is opening Muletown Collective upstairs in the spring.
We are delighted to have two enterprising couples bring their creative ventures to Columbia in what is the beginning of the new arts district in the downtown area. We think you will enjoy these two short interviews that discuss everything from art and Instagram to Yvonne the mannequin and Jessie the Miniature Zebu calf who was born with a folded leg and is learning how to walk.
Interview with Holly Freeman of Columbia Arts Building
Tell me a little about you and your husband, including when you moved to Columbia and from where?
Robert is a sculptor and lately he has been working with metal. I work with fiber and specialize in Japanese Amigurumi crochet, basically super cute tiny stuffed animals.
We moved to Columbia about a year and a half ago from North Carolina.
Do you have a passion for art? Tell me about how your vision came about for the Columbia Arts Building.
Of course. More over, I have a passion for artists. We have watched so many talented artistic friends struggle through life in order to continue to create art on their terms. Our goal is to lessen that burden and to truly support our local artists. The CAB will be a place where an artist can earn a decent wage teaching classes, where they can create art with no limits, where they can just be themselves.The Columbia Arts Building has no religious or political standing. Everyone is welcome as they are.
How long was the plan in the works? How did the city help facilitate this plan?
Robert and I immediately fell in love with the building and knew that it could be something so much more than it was currently being utilized for. Before purchasing we had a meeting with the city facilitated by Thad Jablonski. We had a presentation prepared and they were in full support. After that meeting we knew that The City of Columbia had our back and we completed the purchase of the building. From start till now everything has taken place in about four months time.
How do you plan to balance your farm life with running the building?
I wake up at 5:30 every morning and go to bed around 11:30-midnight. That helps! The balance happens naturally. We had four calves due the same week as our soft opening so I stayed on the farm during the day when necessary and worked at the CAB once the cows settled in for the night.
We want to showcase art and culture in Columbia by housing a diverse array of creative businesses and artist, as well as offering classes, such as the photography class we held on Saturday with photographer Sarah B. Gilliam.
How many vendors do you have now and what kind of products?
We do not have vendors but have purchased many items from Maker owned small businesses. For the Retail Division shop we have our own Freeman Farm apothecary line throughout along with maker created items and a selection of minerals.
Tell me about the mannequin! Is she your mascot?
You mean Yvonne? My grandmother (Yvonne Whitesides) is an artist and used to illustrate advertisements for the local newspaper. The mannequin was ever present in her home throughout my childhood. I feel like she is watching over me now, especially since we put her atop the hay wagon!
Do you think your little calf will be able to walk eventually?
Jessie is a Miniature Zebu, one of our herd of 30 cows. She is getting better every day and we are hopeful for a full recovery. If we do need to have a little cart or something made for her in the future we are totally prepared to do so.
I saw that you are going have a mural painted on the building. Where and what will the mural feature?
The full wall facing the level three entrance will be painted by Brian Buchanan. I don't know what the mural will feature as we are giving the artist complete creative control. We are hoping to have the piece completed in Spring once the weather is more agreeable to painting outdoors.
Anything else you want to say?!
Not right now, as I have a cow in pre labor and I'm on hourly checks all night long, so I gotta run!
Interview with Aaron Rudd of Muletown Collective
When did you and your wife Jenny move to Columbia?
We bought land in Columbia in 2015. We're originally from Oklahoma, but have been in Middle Tennessee for 16 years.
How was the turn out on Saturday and the general consensus among visitors?
The reponse from the community was fantastic! We weren't sure what to expect, but met a lot of great people who were interested to hear more about the Collective.
What is your vision for opening the Collective?
Currently, we're looking to provide collaborative workspace for creatives and entrepreneurs.
It will be a monthly fee for access, which will include....?
The monthly membership fee will include access to the community workspace, conference room, coffee, water, hi-speed internet, & black and white printing.
How did you hook up with the Freemans?
Instagram recently brought our worlds together. And coffee.
What do you love about Columbia and/or Maury County?