Artists Move Into Vacant Stores at Valley View

A group of artists is setting up shop in vacant storefronts at the Valley View Center.

The mall is slated to be demolished as part of the redevelopment of Dallas Midtown. The multi-billion dollar project boasts new hotels, condos and restaurants in the future. But until that comes to fruition, some are taking advantage of the space that still stands.

"It's a good thing. I get to come here and paint," said artist Donna Head.

Three years ago, Head was approached by another artist about an opportunity to share a studio at Valley View. She jumped at the chance, as it would be the first time she could work and sell her art from a space outside of her home.

"It's wonderful. I could not afford to go and rent space," Head said. "We all come and go whenever we want to. There's not really hours set, and it's just a good atmosphere."

The group of about a dozen artists shares the space.

Under an agreement with developer Scott Beck, they each pay approximately $150 per month to occupy a 20-by-20 section of the room. Once a month, they're also required to work in the mall's gallery, a few stores away.

"We thought Valley View was just dying and going away, and then you come in and all of this is just exciting," said artist Teta Smith.

Smith was one of the first artists to move into the mall five years ago. Today, she works out of Teta Smith Studio, a space where she offers classes three to four times a week.

"The rent is so affordable," Smith said. "We'll build a business any place somebody give us space."

According to Smith, Beck's plans for Dallas Midtown include space for art galleries and studios.

However, details are unknown on the price or how many people will fit into that. NBC 5 reached out to Beck for comment on this story, but did not hear back.

While the future of their studios at Valley View may be limited to another year or two, Smith and the other artists are enjoying it for as long as possible.

"I hope we're here a long time, just as it is," said Smith.

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