While planning to go to law school, Mollie Mulloy Creason stumbled upon art history and ended up with a double major in art history and English. Looking for a job she could do in Louisville with the flexibility she needed as the parent of young children, she became an art dealer, eventually branching out on her own and founding Well & Wonder, an online artist collective with 29 artists and growing. Mollie is an art advocate of the highest order, one who is passionate about stripping the pretension from art and encouraging people to experience art in a personal way. We sat down to talk with her about Well & Wonder Artist Collective, art, her life and how she can’t imagine being a lawyer.
Tell us about Well & Wonder.
Well & Wonder is an artist collective. I have 29 artists that I represent, all Southern, all female. It’s more or less an online art gallery.
I worked for a company based out of Birmingham, AL, called Portraits, Inc., for seven years. They had not had anybody in Louisville for some time. I was having my first child and leaving the not-for-profit world, and it was something I could do, kind of flexible from home with young children. Once I got started with them, selling portraits, those clients were coming back to me asking if I could source other artwork for them. So I did, and I found it very rewarding. Then I started representing an artist in Nashville, then one in Charlotte, so I thought, “There’s gotta be a place to put this to reach a broader audience.” So I created Well & Wonder Artist Collective online.
How did you get into art?
I accidentally stumbled on art history in college at Vanderbilt. There was some sort of scheduling snafu. As a freshman, when you’re registering, you get bumped to the bottom. I was placed in an art history 101 class. The teacher was wonderful and impactful, and I just wanted to keep taking her classes, so I signed up for the next one and the next one. And then she said, “If you major or minor in art history, we do a wonderful study abroad program in Italy,” and I was like, “Yes, please!” So, I double-majored in art history and English. But, law school was always the plan, and after college, I went to Washington D.C., to work as a paralegal. So I kind of had this degree that I never thought I’d use, and yet I’m back here using it.
What do you like best about your job?
I love art, I love working with the artists, and working with the clients — what someone chooses to put in their home, that’s just so personal. That part has been really rewarding.
One of the reasons I created Well & Wonder was because I had heard people say they were intimidated by going into galleries. They weren’t sure they could afford anything and they were concerned the people inside were going to be snooty and stuffy. So I wanted to create this space where art buying was not intimidating. That’s important to me — educating people that you can afford original artwork and that art speaks to you in whatever way it can speak to you, and that’s personal. Being intimate with customers and clients, that’s rewarding.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
I did an artists’ call for submissions back in the fall, because I’m going to take on about 10 to 12 new artists in the next year, and I received nearly 300 submissions. I was just blown away and wishing I could handle more. There is definitely a plethora of talented Southern artists, so narrowing that down has been a challenge.
Do you have any mentors? How have they helped you?
My parents spend a lot of time in Georgia, where my mom’s from. There’s a woman who owns a gallery on St. Simon’s Island, Alice Parker of Parker Gallery, and she’s been a big mentor to me. She had worked in banking and made a big career shift. She was always very helpful and encouraging in regards to making a career in the arts.
The women who own Portraits, Inc., have been wonderful mentors. They’ve been doing this a long time, and they really encouraged me that I could make this a career of my own.
What is the future of Well and Wonder? Will you ever have a brick-and-mortar gallery?
Good question … I mean, never say never. I have found that there is certainly value in doing pop-up shows and traveling to different markets. I’m really intrigued by being able to pop up for more than a weekend somewhere. I have 29 artists with plans to add 12, and I’ve realized the value in the community of Well & Wonder. I’m thinking of possibly creating an education component. A lot of people say they’d like to learn about hanging and lighting your own work, so I’m exploring that idea, or hosting a watercolor workshop on florals or something.
Are you originally from Louisville?
Yes. We moved back to Louisville about 10 years ago. We chose to come back here and raise our children here. I’m from St. Matthews, the Indian Hills area. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in. My husband, Scott Creason, is from here, too. I went to Kentucky Country Day, all the way through. I didn’t really know him back then. He was a St. Xavier grad. We’re the same age and had mutual friends. We actually met after college, when we both ended up in D.C. We have two children: William is 6, and Francie is 4.
What do you like to do for fun?
We like to travel. We go to the beach in Georgia in St. Simon’s Island and Sea Island, where my parents spend a lot of their time. We also like to go out to eat and explore new restaurants. My children love visiting the Kentucky Science Center and the Speed Art Museum.
What are your favorite restaurants in Louisville?
What do you like to read?
I just finished Rules of Civility by Amor Towles; Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead; my book club read The Nix by Nathan Hill; Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel — it’s about women in the art world in New York in the 1960s; and Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover.
I love NPR’s “How I Built This” podcast with Guy Raz. My husband and I listen to that when were traveling together. The New York Times’ “The Daily” podcast, and I like food podcasts. “A Piece of Work” by Abbi Jacobson from “Broad City” is a fun art podcast.
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What inspires you?
My children — how they see beauty and art is really cool and inspiring. I purchased a bright yellow abstract to go in my living room, and they said that yellow is the happiest color. I think about that a lot. Otherwise, my artists and the work they do inspire me. It’s very exciting what they can create.
What’s one thing that most people would be surprised to learn about you?
It could be the paralegal/law school thing that my family and I laugh about, because I was not well suited to that.
What’s your best piece advice?
It’s important to surround yourself with good people to learn from who you can lean on. Being kind and authentic can take you farther.
With the exception of faith, family and friends, name three things you can’t live without.
Coffee, Pilates and scoring new artwork
Thank you, Mollie! And thank you to Gretchen Bell for these beautiful photos.
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