Art Scene – InterUrban ArtHouse
InterUrban ArtHouse may be a mouthful, the multi-pronged concept may be a bit confusing, the location may be intriguing, but all of the layers of concept and construction and utilization lead to one thing: a creative space in which artists are to be seen and heard. The kernel of truth is that despite Kansas City’s many strides in self-actualization (and there have been many), the pocket of northeast Johnson County was lacking in attention and affordable space for burgeoning artists and their many crafts. What began as a conversation in 2011 has now grown into a living, breathing art mecca in Downtown Overland Park, complete with serious arts programming and studio space.
With gratitude to Nicole Emanuel, the idea catalyst and founder, InterUrban ArtHouse now operates with a strapping board of directors, including powerhouse couple Regina and Bill Kort, and a full-time staff of four, including Angi Hejduk, CEO. Its mission is, “to enrich the cultural and economic vibrancy of the community by creating a place where artists and creative industries can work and prosper in an affordable, sustainable, and inclusive environment.” The abbreviated core objectives are: to offer a place for arts; to fully integrate arts into the community; to promote entrepreneurship; and to support growth and sustainability. As Angi summed it up, “People are longing for a space to belong and a wide variety of programming. Even in a pandemic, our community has plugged in virtually. We keep moving forward.”
Operating out of a former post office building, The ArtHouse, as it is lovingly known, boasts 18 studio spaces, plentiful gallery space, meeting spaces, a coffee shop (before and after COVID-19), programming spaces, and offices. There are five key programs that emanate from the core of The ArtHouse: Artsmart, Artworks, Artheals, Artmatters, and Artsconnect:
- Artsmart connects arts programming to students in several Shawnee Mission School District public schools.
- Artworks is a professional development and business training program for artists seeking to build their career skills and business practices.
- Artmatters is for artists who want to advance their creative skills through discussions and critiques.
- Artsconnect is a community engagement program for events, neighborhoods, open studios, and exhibitions.
- Artheals is an art therapy program to promote and support healing through the arts. This program in particular is one that sets The ArtHouse apart from most everyone executing arts programming in the greater metropolitan area (with the one known exception of The Epsten Gallery within Village Shalom). The practice of art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by an art therapist, use art media and the creative process to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. The discipline requires a trained professional with a master’s degree in art therapy from an accredited institution. For The ArtHouse, that person is Sherri Jacobs. \
Sherri Jacobs conducts her business, Heartland Art Therapy, out of a bright, colorful, corner office inside The ArtHouse. Sherri is a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist and registered art therapist, who combines traditional talk therapy with elements of art therapy for dynamic and engaging sessions that explore the root issues. According to Sherri, “Often, words simply are not enough to express oneself. Art therapy can offer people enhanced forms of creative expression and communication. Advances in neuroscience reflect the limitations of traditional talk therapy, and expand the crucial role the creative arts can play in healing from trauma.”
In 2019, The ArtHouse made some significant contributions to the culture and quality of life in Our Town: it served more than 1,800 individuals, hosted 33 events, conducted 67 classes, and launched seven exhibitions, just to scratch the surface. The disciplines include drawing, painting, sculpture, leatherworks, fiber arts, mural work, jewelry, graffiti, and more. Each studio artist begins with what Angi offers as a “warm, white box” that can be developed into an individual’s creative haven. And, if money is a problem, there are always scholarships to be found. Angi and the staff “never turn anyone away due to lack of funds.” Even during the last year of forced isolation for many, The ArtHouse has had robust programming via its website, interurbanarthouse.org, much of which can be accessed through a membership program or by just paying a virtual visit. The collaborations that The ArtHouse is involved in are literally too numerous to list.
While our collective confinement hasn’t quite ended, make sure to avail yourself of the myriad programs and pieces of art and types of art represented at InterUrban ArtHouse. Understandably, there has been much attention given to the national players in the creative arts, but our local scene is chock-full of treasures and tidbits created or performed right here in our own little corner of the planet.
Also featured in the February 20, 2021 issue of The Independent
Photo Credit: Bailey Pianalto Photography
By Anne Potter Russ
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