A perfect marriage

Jennifer Ford and her art gallery

Jennifer Ford, photography by Ellie Bogue

Fort Wayne has its share of art galleries, but most of them are downtown. Jennifer Ford’s new gallery is on Carroll Road in the northwest corner of the county. J F Art, an offshoot of Ford’s interior design company Choice Designs, brings that downtown vibe to the north side.

After spending several years in the auction world and in European art galleries, Ford returned to Fort Wayne, where her family lives. She wanted to bring that European, fine-arts feeling to Northeast Indiana, and she has succeeded admirably.

Inside what from the outside appears to be a large pole barn, Ford has crafted a sleekly modern white-on-black exhibition space, where she plans to host 10 exhibitions a year. Since the gallery opened in September, it’s already displayed works by Frank Louis Allen and Alex Hall. Sayaka Ganz will be exhibiting her creative sculptures made from found objects in February, Ford said.

A treasured Keith Haring painting hangs permanently in the gallery, a find from her days working in Europe and for Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses. (Ford is delighted when visitors recognize Haring’s colorful style.)

The gallery space isn’t the only way Ford is helping artists. Plans are currently under way to create space for artists’ workshops and other creative uses. A special touch for artists is the ability to add elements from the Choice Designs warehouse to accent the gallery in ways that highlight the art. For example, Hall chose unique and cozy chairs to decorate her October exhibit in the style of a coffeehouse.

Ford said the pairing of art gallery and interior design company is natural.

“Art is a very big part of making a home a home,” she said. Because the bulk of the art exhibited is for sale, Ford can help buyers choose pieces that will complement their own styles and designs.

“Art (becomes) a different world to immerse yourself in,” she said. “It gives me a great sense of calm.”

Ford is no Jill-come-lately to the art world. She’s currently earning her Ph.D in aesthetic philosophy, having already earned a master’s from New York University and her undergraduate degree from Indiana University. She said she decided to return to her Fort Wayne hometown after her son, Elijah, was born. “The art world is a funny place,” she noted, “full of nights and weekends.”

Besides, she wanted Elijah to know his grandparents and extended family. Soon after returning, she met and – after a three-week whirlwind romance – married her husband, J.R. Ford. These days, she splits her time between the gallery and Choice Designs, as well as serving with the Transplant Club, which welcomes newcomers to Fort Wayne.

“It’s the perfect marriage,” Ford said of her two career interests. “Our designers are putting decorative arts in people’s homes, … and we have so many artists in Fort Wayne who are so incredibly talented. We give artists exposure and help develop them. I have the connections with the bigger art world, too.”

First appeared in the January 2016 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.


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