antfarm Timeline 1993 – 2023 and beyond?

*This is not a complete timeline, please comment or email us to add an event, or use this google form to submit materials. We’d love to see your photos, exhibition flyers, awards, all of it! The first ten years are based on the timeline printed in the “antfarm decade” booklet published in 2003.

Timeline color code:

Orange: Highlights community efforts, guidelines/expectations for the culture of the co-op, and efforts that benefit the community at large.
Teal: DIY projects and upgrades. highlights cooperative nature and interdependence with community
Light Gray: Mundane: bills set up, robberies, accidents, etc
Dark Gray: Wins, milestones, press, and exhibitions 

  • 1993

  • Spring 1993 – group of 8 founders draft a letter to landlord and holds meetings to define scope and name the endeavor. Communication, honesty and trust are discussed as key values. The name “antfarm” is agreed upon.

  • 7-8-1993 – Original 8 antfarmers sign first least for $800/month

  • Mid-July 1993 – First big cleanups!

  • “Antfarm is a diverse group of artists, coming together to form a supportive nurturing environment. Here, we utilize the talents and energies of each other to foster growth and further our education. Antfarm strives to create exceptional work and share it with the community.”

    Mission Statement drafted and painted on 3x6ft sign and installed upstairs
  • 7-28-1993 – First logbook entry about a leak in the roof being fixed along with this comment: “This is not like school where we could be individuals this is a TEAM effort. Our actions will affect others, think for the group not just yourself… Building is looking much better…”

  • August 1993 – Jen King hears noise downstairs and runs down to find stranger running to the door dragging the air compressor. Jen chases, when she starts to catch up to him, he drops compressor and heads through the woods to the train tracks.

  • 9-12-1993 – Logbook notes that certain behavior is not cool around girl antfarmers.

  • 9-20-1993 – Legit CP&L account set up. *wink* electricity setup so old, we could bypass the meter.

  • October 1993 – Benji Shelton donates wood stove and it’s installed upstairs. (Co-owner of Lilly’s Pizza)

  • November 1993 – Modular gallery walls hung from ceiling joists downstairs for 1st show in December

  • 12-10-1993 – Gas account set up. Heath suffers singed hair and eyebrows during repair.

  • December 1993 – First group exhibition! 1st antfarm t-shirts

  • 1993 Notable Accomplishments:
    Brad has work in the NC Museum of Art’s juried triennial, showcasing the best of North Carolina contemporary artists.
    Heath makes larger-than-life-sized figurative interactive sculpture “Resolution Man” for Raleigh’s First Night New Year’s Eve celebration.

  • December 1994 – Antfarm December show. Members including Jen King (manager of the new Lilly’s Pizza Kitchen) make the refreshments and N&O reporter declares if the best food of any opening she has ever been to.

  • 1994

  • Heath makes the rusted metal sign above the side entry door based on Dan’s logo design.

  • Denim Show

  • 1995

  • 2-19-1995 – Logbook notes desires to get rid of junk, keep common areas clean, and get a true shop set up

  • 5-12-1995 – 1st spring antfarm group show. A catalog is produced and antfarm opens weekday evenings and Saturday afternoon.

  • 8-22-1995 – a second accountant position is created, official chore list is delegated. Brad, heading off to grad school, hopes the consistency will ensure antfarm will last a while. Chris A suggests a board of directors , but this won’t be done until 2021. 6pm Sunday evening weekly meetings are conceived.

  • October 1995 – Roof needs repair, landlord too slow, group fixes it themselves.

  • 12-1-1995 – Antfarm participates in the Boylan Heights ArtWalk for the first time.

  • 12-3-1995 Antfarm December Show enjoys biggest turnout so far 600-800 visitors! Art sales estimated to be about $2,000!

  • 1996

  • News & Observer article, “Down at the farm” features interview with Bart and photos of group meeting around the wood stove.

  • Heath quits his day job, becoming 1st antfarmer to make a living off his studio work. Many more members follow this path over the next 3 decades.

  • 3-10-1996 – Antfarm Open House with invites printed on letterpress downstairs

  • 3-15 – 5-1-1996 – Group show at Third Place, the new coffee house

  • 5-6-1996 – Group drafts letter to owner Tommy Fonville, frustrated over lack of attention from property manager, Jim Durham.

  • August 1996 – wooded lot behind antfarm cleared after a corpse is found in a nearby similar thicket. Heaps of corrugated glass left behind by Carolina Washboard Co are plowed up by dozers. a large brick chimney is exposed and a mulberry tree is left standing.

  • September 1996 – Several antfarmers participate in 1st Umstead Festival to raise awareness and protest proposed DOT plans to construct a new road through the park. Art sales are poor, but the protest is successful and road plans are scrapped.

  • 9-6-1996 – Friday, Hurricane Fran hits the Piedmont knocking out power for weeks in some areas. Boylan homes are still without power on Sunday which antfarm had already scheduled and invited everyone for an Open House which went ahead as scheduled and provided coffee and cookies to visitors who enjoyed a feel-good coming together day.

  • 10-6-1996 – Jack reminds everyone rent is due before the 1st not on the 1st.

  • 10-13-1996 – Heath installs a new skylight where old roof access was damaged during the hurricane.

  • November 1996 – Carolantic Realty becomes new property management, fixes roof with white skin (which will reflect heat!) and negotiate terms. Management wants to raise rent form $800 to $1700 but agree to $1100/month with $100 annual increases. Antfarm gets first insurance policy. Artist rent is raised from $100/month to $110/month

  • Heath clads front side door in metal and etches the ant logo on it.

  • December 1996 – Dave and Ray make 3-color letterpress poster for Boylan ArtWalk in exchange for waiving the $45 participation fee.

  • 12-8-1996 Antfarm group show

  • 12-29-1996 – Ray finds a Two-In-One Carolina Washboard at the flea market and hangs it in the bathroom where it would remain until 2021 when Lucas took it too his office at ShopSpace in honor of his 15+ years as a member.

  • December 1996 – Rent increased to $140

  • 1996 Notable Accomplishments:
    Group show at Cup a Joe features work by all 10 antfarmers. Trish Pollock (future member of Blam!) shows on the non-smoking side.
    (OMG remember smoking indoors????)

  • 1997

  • 1-12-1997 – complaints result in reducing rent to $130

  • 1-19-1997 – Gas bill was $200! Using the heater less, getting more free firewood, dressing in layers. Can’t leave wood outside, it gets taken and burned under the Boylan Bridge.

  • 2-16-1997 – A termite infestation is narrowly avoided by tossing the recently purchased bug-filled cord that was stacked upstairs out the window!

  • February 1997 – Upstairs painters complain about plasma cutter fumes wafting up from downstairs.

  • 2-23-1997 – Financial strain among several antfarmers results in policy of being able to borrow back your $100 joining deposit to help out during bad months.

  • March 1997 – Antfarm website set up

  • 6-13-1997 – Water bills are over $200 and a leaky pipe is discovered in the backyard. It is replaced and extra payments credited to antfarm

  • April 1997 – Antfarm gets voicemail on the landline telephone

  • May 1997 – Jack fires electric kiln for the first time, staying up all night to ensure safety of the building

  • Spring 1997 – A donated Culligan water cooler is donated and installed in the kitchen. Culligan water delivery service is established.

  • Spring 1997 – Phone bill increase to $23/month so antfarm is now listed in the white pages.

  • August 1997 – Fire marshal inspection demands are met: emergency lights are installed, a flammables cabinet is built, and more fire extinguishers are added.

  • 1998

  • 1-4-1998 – Late fee policy adopted, $5 per week it’s late or 1lb of fresh coffee. Rent incresed to $150

  • 1-11-1998 – Rent increased to $160 and a policy to charge a non-refundable joining fee of $100 in addition to the $100 (refundable) deposit for new members. This is so new people recognize how much better of a situation they are stepping into due to the investments made by previous antfarmers.

  • February 1998 – antfarm scores a free gas heater courtesy of Blam!

  • Spring 1998 – Clean up Saturday

  • May 10, 1998 – First Mother’s Day Open House. The Guild, a group of metal-workers renting the spot underneath Blam! next door.

  • 5-17-1998 – Logbook notes police non-emergency number and says they are “willing to come out no matter how many times we call because of unruly behavior and burning things (including antfarm saw horses) under the Boylan Bridge.”

  • December 1998 – Antfarm December show coincides with openings at Blam! and Freezetag. Kenny Roby and Ray Duffey from 6 String Drag perform during Horse and Buggy Press’s Literary and Musical Extravaganza on Sunday.

  • 12-20-1998 – Rent is increase to $170

  • 1999

  • 1-17-1999 – Decision made to invest in a cordless telephone for the first time.

  • Spring 1999 – Art and Dave landscapers now renting the space under Blam! do some landscaping work and plantings around the property, including putting some gravel on the back driveway

  • April 1999 – Dave uses NC Arts Council grant for papermaking supplies and builds a brick patio out back, plants a perennial garden and edges the driveway with salvaged barn poles.

  • Mother’s Day 1999 – Dwayne mans the grill, and horseshoes are played out back for the first time

  • September 1999- Antfarm receives a cease and desist letter from lawyers representing Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm threatening legal action for use of the name. “Good luck buddy” is the general attitude.


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