Two weeks after moving to Birmingham from Belgium, Veronique Vanblaere, local artist and owner of Naked Art, says she was exhausted by radio programs with repetitive content that never “got out of the box.” Then one day, on her way home from work, she discovered Public Radio WBHM 90.3 broadcasting cultural topics and more world news than she had been able to find in other local media.
Naked Art has since become a loyal supporter of WBHM, finding it to be a hub of people who are interested in culture and diversity. Over the years, Veronique has found that underwriting naturally helps her connect with the gallery's audience, especially when it comes to communicating the gallery’s events to current customers and potential new ones— usually opening receptions for new shows and the monthly Third Friday in Forest Park events. “Supporting WBHM comes right back to Naked Art,” Veronique reflects, “because customers constantly mention that they heard my underwriting announcements. Some customers have actually told me that they prefer to shop at Naked Art because I support WBHM!”
Naked Art, located in Forest Park, focuses on functional art — art that serves more than just an aesthetic purpose — but also shows wall pieces by nontraditional artists. The name "Naked Art" was chosen to encourage patrons to understand and appreciate the artists' work with the "naked eye" rather than be intimidated by the perception of "highbrow" art work with hidden meanings. “We simply want everyone to feel good about being here and to just enjoy the gallery's vibrancy. We also make a real effort to keep the prices reasonable because we strongly feel that art should be within everyone's reach.”
In her personal life, as an avid runner, Veronique says she wakes up at the crack of dawn every day to WBHM. “Because I am always moving between the studio and gallery, I usually only get snip bits of the programs, so I download Fresh Air — my favorite, Diane Rehm, This American Life, and other shows and catch up on the parts I missed while I run or work in the studio.”
“When I moved here, I felt so disconnected from the familiar world that I knew,” said Veronique, “Finding WBHM changed my entire perspective on Birmingham.”