FINDING WHERE TO FIT IN

by LINDSEY WILSON photography by GYNNEL FERNANDEZ AND CHRISTIAN VILLARREAL

Coworking spaces are a rapidly expanding trend in Dallas-Fort Worth— they occupy about 1.5 million square feet of DFW office space, according to the latest estimate by commercial property firm Cushman & Wakefield. But all that space must be decorated for its wide variety of clients. Serendipity Labs in Frisco found its unique artistic aesthetic in one of its very own tenants.

CJ Cowden runs c2c Contemporary Art, a by-appointment gallery where the artist helps clients choose from her artwork, which includes acrylic and oil paintings, resin works, inks and watercolors. Cowden is also the first artist-in-residence at Serendipity Labs, with about 30 pieces on display throughout the building.

“I had been showing in Frisco and throughout DFW—this is how Serendipity Labs discovered my work and asked if I would like to be the artist-in-residence and show my work in their space,” says Cowden. “The bright colors are exciting and energetic, just like the lab space. I feel it is important for the artwork to not only complement the space but to also complement each other.”

Cowden has been interested in art most of her life and realized at a young age that she had a talent for creating. Self-taught and award-winning, she specializes in abstract art that is filled with energy, vitality and emotion, giving viewers a window into her vividly pigmented dreams. The large-scale pieces are, essentially, an interpretation of her subconscious.

“One of my philosophies on art comes from a quote by Thomas Merton: ‘Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time,’” Cowden says.

Her process is to paint from the heart, and quickly, letting what she calls “the natural me” come pouring out.

“I believe everybody that is creative has a gift to use differently,” Cowden says. “You must be able to tap into that gift and let it come out in your work, to be vulnerable enough to show your inner self to the world. When I started painting, I knew I needed to first find where I fit in. I had to ask, where is my place among all these amazing abstract artists? Painting and creating gives me a sense of freedom—I have no one to answer to but myself.”

Having her work hanging throughout the upscale and flexible office space of Serendipity Labs and having her own private space to meet with clients has proven more than convenient for Cowden. Serendipity Labs’ Frisco location is located in the 162-acre and 17-building Hall Office Park (developed by Craig Hall), which is also within walking distance of The Star (the new headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys) and the entertainment district of shops, restaurants and bars that has sprung up around it.

Cowden is featured on Serendipity Labs’ homepage, with a testimonial that raves about working there: “My office space has brought my career to a new level. I now have a professional space to talk with clients and meet with my publishing partners.”

She says she’s very pleased with how her displayed works have turned out and is continually honored at having been chosen as the coworking space’s first artist-in-residence.

“I check on my artwork weekly to ensure it remains properly displayed and will move some pieces around from time to time to freshen up the look of the space,” says Cowden. “I have received many compliments on my work, including from the owner and CEO of Serendipity Labs. The space is a perfect fit for my style of artwork.”

Lindsey Wilson is a Dallas-based writer who has a penchant for reclaimed wood and vintage barware.