By Megan Krieg
Here is a little history about Fort Thomas’ very own Art House. A leap of faith was taken, a lot of hard work, integrity, ingenuous planning, and networking was taking place. Lots of anticipation from our community, and then a beautiful old brick house on top of a hill overlooking the backbone of central Fort Thomas had been thoughtfully and creatively transformed into a “home” for all artists and artists..a “home” for our community. If you have not yet been to the Art House, take that leap of faith. Walk in the door and you will be welcomed by the humble and much inspiring Parrish Monk, owner of the Art House.
And wait until you meet his beautiful and dynamic wife Sharahn. I was drawn to her beautiful spirit with our first handshake. Parrish might encourage you to read a book, take a look, drink a hot cup of coffee or tea. He will make you feel at home in the Art House.
He might want to know about you, your ambitions and your passions. He will also sense if you just want to visit quietly. Among his many qualities is his great business sense, artistic expression, as well as a great business bedside manner. Undeniably, you will be drawn to the many artistic treasures and escapes The Art House has to offer its community.
The mission of the Art House is to provide access to the arts and art opportunities for established, independent, emerging and aspiring artists and artisans. To better explain, The Art House will zestfully and personally assist independent artists and artisans in achieving their individual success!
Parrish created the Independent Northern Kentucky Artists and Artisans Business Incubator (INKAA). INKAA focuses on community arts as well as the empowerment and success of independent artists and artisans in different stages of their business. You can find out more about INKAA at www.INKAAcollaborative.org.
Do you know that feeling? When you wake up groggy in the early morning, waiting impatiently for your much anticipated and needed coffee to brew? You wait, you take a deep breath, you listen for the drip, drip, dripping, into the pot. Then your body begins to relax and your senses take over. The smell, the first small sip from your steaming hot mug. It’s invigorating. That first sip of steaming hot coffee in the morning is what I think of when I remember first visit stepping into the beautiful foyer at the Art House. My senses were awakened, I relaxed the moment I walked in the door, and I felt completely invigorated!
But more than anything, what I first took away from my first visit is what something I knew little about. I knew the Art House had amazing art classes, yoga, cool gifts and creations. I now would like to share The Art House’s other assets.
The Art House has done so much for artists and artisans in accomplishing their mission, and a lot of their work is free of charge. They have helped many artists get features and noticed in various magazines. The Art House builds websites for artists; they take professional photos of artistsʼ work to help with show submissions and portfolios. They connect artists with buyers and help them acquire custom jobs. The Art House has offered several free art business seminars. Every single week they work with children with special needs.
If you were unable to attend the Gallery Art Show in honor of Women’s History Month that the Art House Gallery hosted on Friday, March 20, I am hoping that you will be able to visit soon. The artwork from the show will be featured until the Art House’s next gallery show on Friday, April 17.
The Art House was filed to the brim the evening of the show. Featured were some of many Fort Thomas female artists and curators.
My dear girlfriend and I set out for the Art House. We climbed the steps and I was greeted by Mrs. Linda Stapleton Slone, Manager of the Bank of Kentucky. My senses were calmed and alerted, just like that comforting cup of coffee in the morning. I felt at home, and it was clear that all in attendance felt similar. The Art House just seems to have that appeal, that spell on you, and the feeling of warmth and connections made still keeps me smiling.
Immediately I met Mrs. Marge Toll Lotspeich. She paints with acrylics and likes to paint on masonite. Over the course of the evening, and continuing into the witching hour, I learned that besides painting cool landscapes on masonite. I quickly realized that Marge has a zest for life like no other, combined with a witty, down home easy-going approach to how one can fully and completely enjoy each and every day of their own unique life.
Did I mention that she is almost 90 years old? I want to be Marge when I grow up. No, I really want to be a combination of all of the talented female artists I became friends with and bonded with at the Art House that evening. So much talent, energy, diverse backgrounds, sad and happy stories were shared. Stories of the past, stories about being moms and wives and women of the 40‘s. Questions about our art and what inspires our creative expressions. The well wishes, hugs, handshakes and laughter kept our hearts cozy and our minds happy at the Art House on that chilly first night of spring.
So many artists, where to begin? There is dear Bill Brown, member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen. Not a female, but “privileged to be teaching these young artists...it’s a blessing,” he said. I sit down at the craft table, I listen as he talks slowly and soothingly to the young artist and athlete, Miss Rylee Clore, age 8, as she paints with acrylic on a smooth flat rock. I ask Miss Rylee to tell me about her creation. It is beautiful, and I can see her smiling and the pride she exudes is almost palpable. She tells me her rock is named “Mountain of Joy.” It clearly is just that...a mountain of joy.
I watched Mr. Brown and Miss Rylee as they painted another rock together. He explained to me that when he is not teaching young students, he enjoys painting portraits and landscapes with water colors.
Water colors? Don’t you have to wait for those to dry before you can add some more color to the page? No wonder I do not like water colors...no patience and my hamster wheel of a mind is no match for the “relax, let go...slow down and enjoy” approach to creating and teaching art that Mr. Brown has mastered.
Art treasures were everywhere, and as I climbed the steps to the second floor galleries and craft room, I was surrounded floor to ceiling with beautiful works of art. I could hear many guests remarking about birds.
Andrea Kay, a Fort Thomas transplant, is the creator of these birds. Her whimsical and brightly- colored birds look ready to take flight and her beautiful creatures were drawing a lot of attention. Andrea took a class at the Art Academy but said that she is self taught. She loves to work with every medium, and mentioned working with collage tiles, paper mache, and most recently birds. When asked why birds, she explained. “Birds, to me, are very spiritual and present, and they make me feel happy. I look out the window every morning and I see birds perching or flying. I think that birds make most people feel happy,” she added. I would agree.
I ran into an old friend, Jay Dierig, and his pretty wife, Kristie. Newlyweds, he and Kristie came to the show to visit with friend Parrish Monk and to check out the featured collection of treasures.
Kristie has a special interest when it comes to artists. Kristie started a business called ever-spark.com. She and Parrish work together to help artists strengthen their business through interactive networking. Career coaching and getting strangers talking in a very encouraging and positive way about art is Kristieʼs main goal at ever Spark. She helps artists by adding a "spark" to their goals, and she wants to help each individual achieve whatever they are wanting to achieve. More so, she wants to help them succeed when they hit bumps along the way.
I was lucky to enough to get to chat with Mrs. Heidi Vermeil. A former teacher at Woodfill Elementary School, she is a successful self-taught painter of oils. The story she told me of how she took the leap to paint with oils was so compelling, and it left a remarkable impression on me.
While seeing her son off to college in South Carolina, Heidi spotted a quaint Charleston restaurant from afar. “It was just glowing from within, and I was absolutely drawn to its charm and light,” she said. She snapped a photo of the restaurant, came home to Fort Thomas and began painting the restaurant. She never knew its name. She just knew that she liked the look of the restaurant from the outside. She just recently found out that the Italian restaurant is famous in Charleston! Fulton V (Roman Numeral 5) has been named the most romantic restaurant in Charleston for the past 17 years.
Heidi shared a photo of her finished masterpiece on the Facebook page for Fulton 5. She found out this week that the restaurant is using her oil painting for their Facebook profile picture. Heidi was graciously thanked by Fulton V, and plans to go back to Charleston soon to enjoy all that the glowing and inviting restaurant has to offer from the inside.
Heidi loves texture. I knew what she meant when she told me that I could touch her beautiful paintings. So much texture and so many kaleidoscopes of colors jumped out at me. Heidi said that her next endeavor is to become more artistically active in Holly and Cris Collinsworthʼs Breast Cancer organization, ProScan, with hopes of donating her artistic talents to help those that are gracefully and tenaciously battling this disease that affects the lives and families of so many women.
Jackie Bradon and Joyce Sutkamp Friedeman, both featured artists and curators, were a delight to talk with. Jackie and I are going to go out driving one day soon. With our pen, pencils, and paper, we will check out some cool neighborhoods. We will stop wherever and whenever we choose, she said, and we will draw...capturing unique streetscapes, landscapes, and cool crazy old houses and maybe even some vacant buildings and houses. My favorite! This all sounds marvelous to me, a creative and refreshing future road trip with my new artist comrade.
I met Annie, one of the instructors at the Art House. She and Parrish were telling me with excitement about one of the classes she is teaching kids. Itʼs all about creating art using your senses. Can you imagine creating art out of KoolAid? How fun for the kids, for adults too. The smell, the texture, the taste...the end product? A unique masterpiece that each young artist can be proud of.
Cyndi Mendell, Vice President of Admissions at the Art Institute of Cincinnati, was another featured artist. Creator of the Childrenʼs Art Academy, also located in Fort Thomas, she offered a warm welcome and comforting support to Parrish, to me, to all artists and guests.
It was a treat to see so many artists and business owners come together to support such a great cause. I was thrilled to see and learn first hand all that the Art House offers to the community, as well as the loyal praise that the Art House has received from our community in its short existence.
Chuck Keller, newly retired and highly admired Highlands High School teacher, summed the night up best. “What better way to celebrate the first day of spring than coming to the Art House to see the great works of art created by these great women of Fort Thomas.”
I would like to sum things up by saying that the Art House is more than just a cool gallery with an artisan retail shop. They are dedicated business partners and they offer support for independent artists and artisans. The Art House Gallery, the monthly art shows, and all of the art that is for sale is only a fraction of what the Art House has to give.
Their mission is more focused on helping artists and artisans develop and achieve success and making sure that the next generation of artists know that they don't have to suppress their creativity or talents.
And the reason why? Parish says, ”it is because there are tons of successful creatives using their creativity every single day. The Art House is a safe place for artists and artisans in all stages of their artistry to develop and grow.”
Cheers to the Art House, to the special female artists that showcased their work, to the many helping hands that brought this dream to fruition, and cheers to all of us for trying something new, thinking outside the box, and working together towards a common goal.
Cheers to taking a leap of faith! Go check out the Art House!
This is not my story, just history about The Art House and INKAA “Be Unique, Buy Original.”
To assist independent artists and artisans in achieving success we have created the Independent Northern Kentucky Artists and Artisans Business Incubator (INKAA). INKAA is a business incubator, art cooperative, art gallery, artisan retail shop, and community arts education organization focused on the empowerment and success of independent artists and artisans on different stages of their business. You can find out more about INKAA at www.INKAAcollaborative.org.
INKAA’s mission is to serve as a business partner that directly supports the development and success of independent artists and artisans. INKAA’s support empowers and enables artists and artisans to focus more time and creative energy on making their creations and spend less time worrying about the business side of the art world. However, it is important to INKAA to ensure that its members remain empowered, autonomous, and in control of their own independence; luxuries often sacrificed when being represented by others.
The bottom line is that we can continue to stumble forward and just look out for ourselves as independent artists and artisans or we can create a business incubator and artist cooperative with the purpose of helping each other and a lot of future artists and artisans achieve success.