Building serves as hub for creatives to express themselves through aerosol art, freestyle rapping
Nestled in a small West Dallas neighborhood lies a building that’s impossible to miss. Covered in graffiti, the makeshift art gallery serves as a gathering place for local artists, musicians and creatives.
The Fabrication Yard, owned by Dallas-based investor Butch McGregor, is managed by local artist Eder Martinez. Although the space became open to the public as a park in 2012, Martinez said the idea received backlash from the Dallas City Council due to the negative stereotypes surrounding graffiti artists, also known as aerosol artists. After the gallery’s opening, Martinez said he hoped it would serve as a hotspot for creative expression in the local community.
“The original idea I had for it all was to have all four elements of hip-hop involved in it, not just people who want to do art. That’s why we have people who come out here and do breakdance competitions or sometimes we’ll have (freestyle rapping),” Martinez said. “It’s nice to hear, it’s nice to see, it’s a place where you can one day be better at what you do. You can perfect your craft, in other words.”
The local community has also seen the impact of the Fabrication Yard through crime reduction, Martinez said. The alleys surrounding the building used to be rife with criminal activity.
“Before we actually started painting here a lot, there was a lot of crime. There was a bunch of drug dealing, drug taking and prostitution going on around the corner,” Martinez said. “The neighbors and everybody was aware of what was going on at the time, but they couldn’t really stop it. We definitely put a stop to all that.”
The gallery has also become a regular spot for city events such as Go Paint Day, which invites everyone from the local community to come spray paint together. However, the building still has its limits, Martinez said. Singer-songwriter Erykah Badu scouted the location as a potential spot for her birthday party, but chose a different location after learning about the building’s lacking infrastructure, which Martinez said is because of a lack of city funding.
“We don’t have security or bathrooms, and that was a big thing, so we couldn’t have her party here,” he said. “We would’ve had her party here, but unfortunately the city looks around us and over us. They don’t want to have a part of it right now; maybe one day they will.”
Despite its impact on the community, Martinez said the Fabrication Yard still faces an uncertain future. The owner, McGregor, may decide to use the land for future property developments, he said.
“Being that the Fabrication Yard’s future doesn’t look like it’s going to be here for much longer, it doesn’t really hold a future,” Martinez said. “We’re waiting for these people to demolish these buildings and get rid of them so they can build their condominiums and apartments, but that’s just the reality of what’s going on in this specific area.”
In the meantime, Martinez and other local artists including Oxygen and Octet are working on a new development in Fort Worth. This gallery would be a multi-story building to allow more space for art as well was event, Martinez said.
“There, you wouldn’t have trespassing charges set on you,” he said. “We’re also gonna make it better than the Fabrication Yard, meaning it’ll have air conditioning, heating and a floor for events like breakdancing competitions.”
Martinez himself had run-ins with the law as a teenager for spray painting. He said his experiences with law enforcement prompted him to create a safe haven for local artists and youths like himself. Despite the challenges he’s faced, Martinez said he will continue to maintain a safe space for local communities to express themselves without the risk of arrest.
“The Fort Worth location will be aimed toward everyone who has creative push and drive, and most of those people are the youth,” Martinez said. “Most of these kids, they don’t really have a direction or anything to do after school sometimes. It would be a better place, or maybe even the only place you could go to and just have fun and create something with your own hands.”