|BB&T (foreground) owns The Art House next door. Director, Parrish Monk, has launched a campaign to secure funds to bring the ownership of what he thinks could be a Fort Thomas landmark, in house.|
By Colin Moore
GoFundMe campaigns seem to crop up in our news feeds all too often. But when Parrish Monk, director of The Art House, created one to buy a potential landmark, people began to take notice.
His campaign starts:
Imagine if the Eiffel tower, the Pyramids of Giza, or the Statue of Liberty were for sale. As improbable as that reality is, the idea of selling an iconic landmark, an important institution, or selling a monument that has become a meaningful symbol is unsettling. The Art House in Fort Thomas is one such iconic landmark.
The Art House in Fort Thomas has launched a campaign to raise funds to buy their building, which is currently up for sale. The volunteer run project, which has no paid staff, contains a gallery, an arts education organization, a retail shop and provides business support and space for over 72 artists. The campaign is aiming to raise $225,000 in order to purchase its premises from BB&T Bank and was launched after The Art House recently gained non-profit status.
Parrish Monk, director of the Art House in Fort Thomas believes that the collective empowers artists and artisans to achieve success by their sales, ability to be financially independent or just to share their work with others.
RELATED: The Art House Invests Back Into The Community
“Creating and building the Art House has been one of the most difficult, yet rewarding, undertakings of my life. It is just a reflection or an extension of what I have been doing almost my whole adult life as an adult educator for non-traditional students. I believe that helping to empower people is not giving them a handout but instead it is giving them a push forward in the right direction. That's all I want to do. I want to make sure that creatives have the same support and access to resources that we give other groups that we hope will achieve success. Having a centralized location of our own and becoming financially self-sufficient allows us to stay focused and better help others.”
The Art House provides much needed business advice and support to artists who, while they may be undoubtedly talented, may not have the necessary skills and connections to bring their talents to a wider audience and turn them into a business. In the last two years they have been involved in the launch of seven officially registered, independent businesses in Northern Kentucky and Ohio. They build websites, help with social media and marketing, and try to take the stress of the ‘business side’ of the art marketplace away from the artists, removing barriers which could affect their creativity. This to Parrish is unique and irreplaceable
“What can't be replaced is the advocacy and support that we provide for local artists and artisans. The loss of our services would have a tremendous impact on a lot of local artists and artisans."
FTM writer, Jessica Duke, has written about The Art House extensively and been apart of the art renaissance, Monk describes.
"Parrish asked me to create a piece last summer for the pen and ink show and it was such a great experience for me to dust off my art supplies and do something I love to do. I am forever thankful to Parrish and the Art House for the meaning they have to the community and to me," said Duke.
Since its foundation the Art House has displayed and sold the work of more than two hundred and fifteen artists, bringing their talent to the eyes of a wider audience. “Anecdotal evidence would suggest that the difference between a successful artist and the proverbial 'starving artist' is often a combination of factors with access to market opportunities and increased exposure being primary obstacles for many artists.”
Many of these artists are involved in the wide range of outreach programs that the Art House provides to the local community. Their Artism program works with individuals with special needs and their parents, teachers, guardians and caretakers. Through their Mommy and Me and KY-munity programs they provide free art classes to children of pre-school age. There are weekly small group art lessons for older children and classes such as pottery and crocheting for the entire community. Parrish believes that this community involvement is a direct result of the support and nurturing the Art House provides to its artists.
“Think about the old saying ‘Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime’. I would add that, if you help a man become the best fisherman he can be then he will teach others to be fishermen as well.”
The art scene in Fort Thomas is vibrant. The Art Around the Towne festival, which the Art House was a part of, brought hundreds of visitors each month to Fort Thomas to the benefit of local businesses. Parrish points out that The Art House draws many visitors to Fort Thomas from outside the community, who are encouraged to eat in the area and visit other local businesses, such as Fort Thomas Central.
“Our shows often include artists from all of the Tri-State area. Each of these artists often bring their own following and supporters. The comments from visitors that have come to Fort Thomas for the first time usually reflects their admiration for the town’s beauty.”
Parrish recognizes that there are many worthy causes to support and believes that whatever happens the flourishing Fort Thomas art scene is destined to be a success “the community will continue to thrive and grow into a vibrant cultural arts district. There are too many people involved in this movement to let it die. I believe that we planted a seed that can be easily watered and nurtured by the City of Fort Thomas or another visionary.”
However it is clear that the Art House in Fort Thomas has become a landmark for local artists and community organizations, providing unique services for many local artists and a wide cross section of the local community.
"Whatever you can donate is more than what we have. Any amount gets us closer to our goal and less wary of losing the Art House to an outside buyer. if you cannot donate then please pass along our efforts to a friend or associate. If you are on the fence and are not quite sure if you should donate to our organization then please stop by and visit or give us a call at (859) 279-3431 or send us an email with your questions," said Monk.