Friday, November 20, 2015

The Art House: Celebrating One Year Anniversary

Celebrating One Year at The Art House - 
Saturday November 21. Noon - 3 p.m. 
The Art House directed by Parrish Monk
Over the past decade, Fort Thomas has enjoyed a renaissance of small businesses bringing with it many new business owners, restaurants, service providers, and retail.  Transforming itself from a sleepy, school-centric community into a vibrant, energetic, and business-friendly (albeit certainly still school-centric) community, Fort Thomas for the past year boasts the presence of a unique business unlike many (if any) other like it in the nation: The Art House.

Achieving its first year in business, the non-profit Art House, directed by Parrish Monk, has much to celebrate.

But if you haven't been yet, know this, The Art House is not just an art gallery. It's a third place.

Monk, a brilliantly talented artist in his own right, saw the “starving artists” in the community (more than 70 of whom now exhibit in the Art House) and knew that if he could form a non-profit to help them turn their creativity into a business, he could really help the art community.

Says Monk, “The Independent Northern Kentucky Artists and Artisans Education Program (INKAA or The Art House) is seeking to be one conduit to help bridge that gap of success for independent artists and artisans on an individual basis through education, mentoring, and the provision of critical support services.”

Monk with his original artwork
The Art House has been host to twenty small art-businesses, 70 local artists, eight artists who rent the third floor as studio space, created seven independently owned and registered businesses for artists in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, and many community-based art classes such as the very popular Design and Dine class (which integrates creativity with fine dining), Mommy and Me program, and Artism, an “inclusive art initiative that regularly serves six individuals with special needs.”

Monk is the father of an autistic child and feels it was “very important to [him] to create an environment at the Art House that was welcoming, safe, and engaging for artists with special needs.”

Annie Brown, art teacher at The Art House and the inspiration for why my son Knox states he wants to be an artist when he grows up, excitedly says of the Art House, “All artists and aspiring artists are welcome at The Art House. There is a positive vibe there that permeates everything (…) and there was a real need in Fort Thomas for (this) creative space.”


Linda Stapleton Sloan, also a board member, connects with The Art House very personally as well, citing one of the Art Houses more youthful converts, her granddaughter Rylee.

“Rylee says that she is going to be an artists (and) when she told (Parrish) that, he hunched down and talked to her about living her dream and not giving up on that!”  Sloan even goes on to say that “maybe one day, (she) will even take a lesson.”

However, she hopes that the community will continue to support the Art House and all its many benefits saying “my only wish is that more people visit, more people buy these one of a kind items.”

One event that really drew people in was the Art Around Towne walk.  This even saw hundreds of community members walking from business to business and viewing, celebrating, and loving the artistic feel of our community.

In curating his gallery, Monk has celebrated local artists, female artists, and first-time featured artists (such as myself and the 61 other first-timers who have exhibited in his space).  This event was a great way to showcase not only the Art House but the surrounding/supporting businesses.


Barb Thomas, owner of Fort Thomas Central, has appreciated the relationship built between herself, Monk, and Lori Gossman (owner of 15 North Pizza).  Thomas says, “The Art House creates opportunities for the economic and artistic growth of established and emerging artists and to nurture the community’s appreciation and understanding of the arts.”

Thomas goes on to say, “It is nice having the Art House, 15 North, and Fort Thomas Central clustered together; folks can park, shop, enjoy local art, and top it off with a nice lunch/dinner afterward.”

Monk agrees with the importance of his business collaborations and also the Fort Thomas community. “The Art House’s current vision is way beyond my original vision and now is a volunteer run collaborative effort where more than 78% of our artists and artisans are from Fort Thomas.”

This “ownership” is of utmost importance to Monk and the local art community, as is purchasing local art: “While we would like for people to buy more art of course and to shop local, what is more important to us is that the community take ownership of the Art House and realize that there are very few organizations in the area or the nation that are doing what we are doing.”

Main Level of the Art House
As he reflects back on his first year in operation, Monk has many fond memories but his two most favorite involve local artists, young and old.

The first was the Morris J. Smith family art show where six generations of artists exhibited and were present.  Chris Franzen Smith (owner of Gallery to Go) curated the show which featured her family works including sculptures by Pat Franzen, Chris’ mom, who is suffering from memory loss.

Per Monk, the Smith family was concerned she wouldn’t recognize her three pieces in the show but not only did she recognize them, she became animated.  Says Monk, “she lit up and talked about the medium for the sculptures” which she had not seen in decades.

Monk’s second memory involves his work with KY-mmunity Outreach Initiative where a group of 26 children came to The Art House.  Monk laid paper and crayons and chalk on the floor and watched as the children began to create.

“I didn’t have to offer them any instructions and they were not seeking my approval nor did they seem to care about being judged (…) they were just happy to be able to create,” he said.

And maybe that is Monk’s greatest first-year legacy: creator.

He created a non-profit which has created opportunities for local artists and artisans to pursue their dreams and passions in a safe space.  He has created a community of support in our local Fort Thomas community.  And he has created a lasting and impactful non-profit that will last well-beyond its original creator, provided we, the community, support it in the way it needs.


Sandy Nagel, board member for The Art House, says it best when she says, “Please go.  Stop in and take a look around. Look at all of the talent that is in the Art House. Take a class, buy a piece of art; but most importantly use the Art House as a place of community.  These are the artists of not only the present but the future. I can't say it enough but art enriches our lives.  This is a place to enjoy, stop in and share a cup of coffee with Parrish and talk to some of the artists that stop in. Take your kids, your spouse, your friends. See and realize the importance of art in our lives.”

So make every day small business Saturday, not just November 28.  Make every walk an Art Walk, not just Art Around Towne.  Support The Art House, local artists and artisans, and the joy they bring to the community.

If you haven't stopped in The Art House is asking you to stop this Saturday November 21, 2015 at 12pm for a ribbon cutting ceremony by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and its ambassadors and then stay for November's themed-based art show called "Metamorphosis" from noon to 3 p.m.

This is a family friendly event with some great food and some surprise gifts for our guests. Monk has big dreams for year two and it is up to each of us to make them a reality.

1 comment:

  1. Come see the original oil painting that became the cover of the book ‪#‎ThriverSoup‬ at this art event! I will be there with high-quality prints of the image, notecards with the image, and of course, signed copies of ‪#‎Thriver‬ Soup.

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