It started as a porch. A porch where I worked because the ceiling in the basement was too low. A porch where the kids came, over the fence, to sit with me and make art. More kids than could fit. We used whatever we could find as our canvases--slate from the rooftops of demolished houses. Wood from fixing holes in the walls of my new Homewood house. Bricks. Cardboard. Shoeboxes. The porch itself. Anything and everything became art.
This was not a museum studio, a classroom or some kind of edgy, industrial workspace. It was just a porch. On a house. In a neighborhood with lots of porches and chatter and churches and dogs and long hot summer days and the echo of jazz legends and the richest history you could know and inspiration everywhere. And violence.
Yes, then there's the violence. Homewood. The Rachel Maddow Show called it One of America's Most Violent Neighborhoods. The violence shakes me. I count the gun shots, wondering, worried. Still. Always. Rattled. Dismantled. But we live here. I mean, we really live here. This is where our kids walk and run and play. This is where they make art. It was the children in my neighborhood who showed me what my front porch was for. It was the children who recognized the creative power of art-- and demanded it. Demanded to have access to the space, materials, time and example of me at work.
We outgrew my porch. There were too many of us. We got an empty house down the street donated to us, temporarily, and we made it the ARThouse, and for the last two years, kids have been coming after school, on the weekends, stopping by to paint, for a snack, or a hug, or a kind word. Stopping by to see their work on display--this is their gallery. This house is filled to the brim with art. It is magnificent. The walls are covered, completely covered! with the kids' paintings and messages of hope and love and peace. People stop on the street to stare; they say it makes them feel good to see something so beautiful in the neighborhood, that it makes them feel good to know all the kids have a safe place to go. To grow.
But. We always knew we'd have to give the ARThouse back. We knew it wasn't ours. The time has come for the ARThouse to have a permanent home. A home that will anchor the street corner with art, a home that will celebrate and thrive in the deep historic roots of Homewood. Now we have the opportunity to have a space that is not only OURS, but that would belong to the community-- trusted to the community, to not ever be taken away but to stand as a testament to the value, humanity and beauty and creativity of the people who live around the house, use the house and of course SUPPORT the ARThouse.
The new house is a 2 family home with nearly 1000 square feet of space on the first floor, almost DOUBLE the size of the current ARThouse. There's a kitchen, a bathroom, and 3 large open spaces that would provide 15-20 children at a time with comfortable creating space. (The current ARThouse accommodates approximately 8 children before it reaches chaotic and crowded levels). This house has a front porch, and a yard, and enough space to distinguish between places for painting, clay making, sculpture and more. They could make so much more! And, most importantly kids won't feel crowded out--there is space for EVERYONE, ALWAYS at the new house.
It is on the same block, just down the street a couple houses, with an attached vacant lot! Imagine, in spring, and summer, art-making happening outside, in a safe, fenced in space! Imagine a yard, imagine a garden, imagine outdoor sculptures, and community gatherings, and so much beauty.
The house will need some work. A lot of elbow grease. But we will fix this place up with care and with love. We will transform it into the ARThouse.
Based on the home inspection, here is the work that needs to be done to make the space amazing:
$10,000 paint, flooring, new windows and drywall
$1500 fence for the yard
$1200 gardening materialsbased on the home inspection
$3000 roofing repairs
$1000 porch step repair
$1200 gardening materials
The Art House is important. We need it because it provides a safe, creative environment for children and neighbors to come together, to experience the power and energy of their creative minds. It is doubly, tripley, quadruply important because all of this good happens in a neighborhood that most people don't hear about unless something violent and tragic has occurred. It is important because the children in this neighborhood demanded it. Insisted upon having a space that they could walk to, to be safe, to be creative, to have fun, to discover and express themselves.**********************************SCULPTURE SPECIAL!!!!********************************
I am selling 5 of my sculptures; all the proceeds will go to the ARThouse. The wonderfully supportive Pavel Zoubok Gallery in NYC has offered to waive their commission and donate that to the ARThouse as well.
Visit the gallery or contact Trey Hollis at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what's available!