Featured Artists

Kelsey Hency

Featured Artist

Kelsey Hency | Fathom Magazine

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AHD: What is your favorite restaurant in Dallas?

Nonna. An unassuming strip mall across from the Whole Foods on Lemmon Avenue boasts the best plate of pasta you’ll find in Dallas.

AHD: Favorite place to write, edit, or hash out your ideas?

I read every piece out loud which is an embarrassing public practice. So I typically edit and write at home. For anything else I’m most likely found at Royal Blue Grocery.

AHD: What books, authors, or articles are you currently reading?

As far as books go, I am always working through the book we are currently reading in the Fathom book club, Storied. So right now that's our May read, "The Last Equation of Isaac Severy" by Nova Jacobs. I also try to read something I feel like I should have already read by now, so I'm working my way through "The Supper of the Lamb" by Robert Farrar Capon. I am loving every page of that one. Reading articles fills up every crevice in my day. If I have a few free minutes I am scrolling twitter to see what's being shared and checking specific writers pages to see what I missed of theirs. The beauty and cruelty of content is that it never stops, I probably open thirty or so articles a day to keep somewhat of a pulse on what's out there and who is writing really impactful articles. I try not to miss articles written or recommended by Lore Wilbert, Jemar Tisby, Hannah Anderson, Jen Wilkin, John Blase, Emma Green, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, and Fleming Rutledge.

AHD: What do you do as the Editor-in-Chief for Fathom Magazine? Our team only numbers seven and everyone except me works part-time, but our goal is to produce something that looks like a fully staffed resource. So I do whatever we need done. I source articles, go through submissions, edit content, take pictures of books for our book club, and try to plan out a strategic vision for individual issues and future years of Fathom. I also try to make space for my team members dreams. They each have more talent than I could possibly extol adiquitally. So I want to give them space to run.

I don’t copy edit. Trust me, no one wants me to do that.

AHD: You have a business degree and a seminary degree. How did those two experiences push you toward writing and editing?

My business degree and experience were in advertising. People immediately assume those things are counter to one another, but what you learn in advertising and what you learn in seminary is that all people are story people. When I finished seminary I worried I’d have to bury my business degree in the backyard. But as it turned out, certain facets and nuances of the macro story needed an audience, I knew that from seminary. And for that to happen we needed a platform, I knew that from business school.


AHD: You were the mastermind behind the founding of Fathom Magazine. What do you hope to give the world, and the church, through it?

Well, I think if I’m the mastermind of anything it’s knowing how limited my own abilities prove and leaning on the talents of other people. But ultimately, I think the team at Fathom wants to influence a generation of Christians to desire the depths of God and Christian faith. On our “about page” we say, “In the depths we are shaped into Christians who embrace empathy, honor humility, desire intellectual integrity, laugh a lot, and believe in beauty.” I think that’s just what we hope to see. I feel confident that we won’t do that alone, that kind of perspective is cultivated in a society through a collection of influences—local churches, deep friendships, mentorship, art, poetry, music—but Fathom operates in an expectant eagerness to contribute to the cultivation of Christians and of culture.

AHD: How important was community in the hatching and establishment of Fathom Magazine?

Within a couple weeks of knowing I would try to establish Fathom, we were a team of three. We spurred each other on, gained energy and excitement from each other, and reminded one another that the work would (probably, most likely, at least for a little bit?) be worth it. Community was indispensable.

AHD: You’re obviously passionate about writing and literature. What is it that has captured your attention and keeps you working on Fathom in the middle of the night?

When the craft of writing meets the intricacy of human life, thought, and ability I am utterly smitten. An issue of Fathom never comes and goes without me sitting on my couch at home astonished at what people intrust us with. People live hard things, they truly suffer, and then they lay that bare in Fathom. People question perspectives in a risky way and they ask their questions publicly in our digital pages. I hope the value of what people entrust us with is never lost on me.

AHD: The tagline for Fathom Magazine is “deeply curious.” It seems like is really hitting a chord with people. Why do you think that is?

We live in a culture that primarily loves answers but has little time for acquiring understanding. Generally, we want knowledge without the work of curiosity. I wonder if we have that all wrong. God has crafted us to be a people of process. “Here’s a garden,” he said, “work it and keep it.” We’ve been a people built for process from the beginning. I think it’s possible that the idea of “deeply curious” has struck a cord because all that the longing for depth of faith needed to come to life was permission to wonder. A little bit of space to be process-people instead of answer-people.


AHD: You have been on both sides of writing and publishing. What is one piece of advice for writers trying to break into publishing?

Editors are your friend, not your enemy. Work with them cheerfully.

AHD: Fathom gives a platform to emerging writers. Why is it important to support writers who are just starting out in publishing?

Supporting young writers is an investment in the future of publishing. Great writing marries the love of a good idea and the love of a great sentence. But writers have to learn what qualifies an idea as good and what makes a sentence great.

AHD: What would be the first step for an emerging writer to submit their work to Fathom?

Pitch us your article after you have spent some time in our publication. You can send us a formal pitch for an article you would like to write or a manuscript of an article you've already written. All of this should come via a query letter, particularly if you haven't worked with a Fathom editor before. You can google, "How to write a query for a magazine" and get some great help. Mary DeMuth has really helpful tips here. Remember that real life people read your email and that this is your chance to impress editors of any publication from the start. Don't use your first email to ask a question that is answerable on your own like, "Do you publish poetry?" If a publication publishes poetry they already published it. Figure out as much as you can on your own before you send your first email. Also, never strictly invite an editor to your google doc as a form of submission. That is simply not how it works.

AHD: What’s next for you and for Fathom? And how can readers, writers, and artists get involved with the work of Fathom?

We hope to one day see Fathom become a full fledge media company. We hope we take steps in that direction soon.

Readers can share Fathom! That’s huge. Never underestimate the power of a tweet. Writers and artist can submit work to submissions@fathommag.com

Kelsey Hency is editor in chief of Fathom Magazine. She received a MA(CE) from Dallas Theological Seminary and resides with her two little girls and husband in Dallas. You can find more from Kelsey on twitter @KelseyHency and Instagram @kelseyhency.

JR Forasteros

Featured Artist

JR Forasteros | Author

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Favorite Writing Spot: Opening Bell Coffee Shop

Favorite Coffee Shop: Opening Bell Coffee Shop! (I love this place, obviously)

Favorite Music to Write to: Rage Against the Machine

AHD: Your new book “Empathy for the Devil” will be coming out on November 7. Can you tell us a bit about this project? What inspired you to write this piece?

JR: Empathy for the Devil is an experiment in empathy. We seem to be losing the ability to understand people with whom we disagree. I decided to take seven of the worst villains in the Bible and try to put myself (and the reader) in their sandals, so to speak. To do that, I wrote a fictional recounting of the villains’ big moments where they’re the protagonist of the story (so each story becomes a tragedy). The story is then followed by a non-fiction chapter exploring the biblical context and building a bridge to practical application.

AHD: What do you hope readers will take with them after reading your latest book?

JR: If we can understand them, their motivations, their actions, then two things happen: first, we may be able to see ourselves in the villains. We can turn from their path before we walk as far as they did. Secondly, I hope practicing empathy on the likes of Cain, Jezebel and Judas will invite us to pause the next time we are angry at someone who sees the world differently from us. Maybe we can work a little harder to understand them before we rush to disagreement and judgment.

AHD: When and how did you develop a passion for writing? How has that passion evolved over the years?

JR: I started blogging in college (Xanga!) as an outlet for my random thoughts. It certainly helped me to develop my voice. Now I enjoy framing my thoughts in words, building bridges between seemingly unconnected things. For me that’s mostly meant pop culture and Jesus. I love finding a new perspective on an old idea or the hidden gems of insight in a book, TV show or film. Pop culture is popular because it’s speaking to very human conditions. These are the same experiences, beliefs and perspectives Scripture addresses, and finding those cross-cultural bridges is tremendous fun.

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AHD: You are also a pastor at Catalyst church. How has pastoral care informed your work as a writer?

JR: Pastoring keeps me grounded. I am an academic at heart, and my tendency, left unchecked, is to climb the ivory tower and live there. In pastoring, I remember constantly that my art should make a real difference in the world. I never want my writing to be interesting simply for its own sake. I want to contribute to the common good (which is a big reason I love Art House so much).

AHD: How important is community to your writing process?

JR: I’m a collaborator at heart. For me, community provides both accountability and critique, which I need to thrive as an artist. I am constantly striving to improve, and reading articles and books on craft only takes me so far. I need to share my work with others, to discuss with them how it’s working and when it’s not. And the old adage is true – you learn best when you teach. The opportunity to workshop with and mentor other writers is invaluable to me in my own writing process.

AHD: You’ve mentioned that you relied on the guidance of writers who went before you as you tried to navigate the writing world. What is one piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

JR: Write. Write every day. Don’t make excuses. The only way you get better at writing is to write, write, write. Ignore all the excuses from those voices in your head, put your butt in a chair, and write those words.

AHD: Often people are eager to support the arts, but artists and creatives as individuals often get overlooked. Why do you think it is important to support the artist?

JR: Creative work is a draining experience – we put so much thought, emotion and spiritual energy into creating something to give to the world. Very few artists have the constitution to create in a vacuum. By supporting artists, we contribute to their flourishing, and thereby play a part in sharing their good with the world.


AHD: What can we expect to see from you in the future and how can we read your book?

JR: I’m already hard at work on another book about the monsters the Church creates. I also do a weekly e-newsletter where I give pop culture picks, a devotional and a collection of all the podcast episodes, posts and articles I wrote that week. It’s some of my favorite writing I do each week. You can subscribe at stuffyoullprobablylike.com. As for Empathy for the Devil, it’s available for pre-order at Amazon or InterVarsity Press’ website. And you can come to the book launch (sponsored by Art House Dallas) on October 28 (at Opening Bell Coffee, duh!). That’s the first place you can actually get your hands on it.

Mandy Rogers

Featured Artist

Mandy Rogers | Visual Artist

Mandy Rogers is an abstract painter residing in Dallas, Texas.  She began painting two years ago as a way to release emotion and discovered an ability to connect with people from all walks of life.  She found that clarity of speech did not come from how well or often she spoke, but rather came most articulately through her paintbrush. Mandy's hope in viewing her work is that you might be reminded you are not alone and grace abounds.  She currently has a studio out of the Mill Street House in the heart of Lewisville, Texas.

Favorite Dallas Hangout: Davis Street Espresso
Favorite Painter: Emily Jeffords

Favorite thing to listen to while you’re painting? It changes depending on the painting– for the last series I did it was the Les Miserables Soundtrack

AHD: You have been part of the Art House Dallas community for a long time now. How has being part of a creative community impacted your creative process?

MR: It’s hard to even begin answering this simply because the influence has been so profound.  I began coming to Art House events when I first moved to Dallas in 2013.  At that time I was still working at a Landscape Architecture firm keeping all my paintings hidden under my bed.  I actually think Marissa, who serves as the Programs Director, was the first person to affirm me as an artist and encourage confidence in my abilities.  Coming to Exchanges, taking part in the Visual Arts programs, and now Origin has provided some of the most supportive and strengthening times within my career.  The friendships made here and love for the arts has truly opened doors and created opportunities for me to pursue art more fully and passionately than I have ever known before.

AHD: You recently launched a new subscription service for your current series Here I Lay. How did you come up with this idea? 

MR: This idea was actually presented to me by Eric Bowman, who designed my website.  Eric works to build your business through the foundation of your values and core beliefs.  He presented the idea as a way for me to further my connection with my clients as well as create a sustainable business model that services my values and purpose in pursuing art.  As an artist, I have found that my passion lies in connecting with the hearts of others– this subscription allows me to intentionally pursue that connection within art.  

AHD: You mention that you will invite subscribers into the creative process. What does that look like? What are you hoping subscribers will get out of this new service? 

MR: This ultimately depends on the buyer as much as it does the artist.  As I engage with my subscribers, I will be asking questions with the hopes of engaging their heart in the process.  I have often found that hearing from the hearts of others is the greatest inspiration for my art and ultimately what stirs me towards the creative process.  As they respond, I will be listening intently with brush in hand, hoping to meet and encourage their hearts through their subscription.  My hope is that in the end, they will not be receiving just a beautiful painting, but rather a painting in which they have participated in and felt engaged throughout the process. My hope is to paint in such a way as to meet their hearts.

AHD: Are you anticipating allowing subscribers to participate in future series? Have you given thought into what that series will be? How does one sign up for a subscription?

MR: I would love to continue this process in the future.  Ideally, this would become a rotation where I do two series a year.  Drawing the series out over 6 months allows for a lot of flexibility and time to prepare for the next series ahead.  By the end, I imagine I will be fully ready to start a new series.

While I have given some thought as to what the next series will be, I think hearing from subscribers throughout this next series will greatly influence the direction for the following series.  My goal would be to launch that series in January 2018 and therefore open up sign ups on my website for the subscription in December 2017.  In signing up for the subscription, one will be asked a few questions preparing both my heart and theirs for the months ahead.

 AHD: You are currently wrapping up a fellowship at the Village Church. How has this experience impacted your creative process? 

MR: Having been in this program for 9 months now, I can confidently say that this has been one of the greatest influences on my career thus far.  I began my time in this program not really understanding myself or my business as an artist.  Though I knew I enjoyed art and hoped to pursue this as a career, there were still a lot of uncertainties that come with starting your own business and learning to own who you are within that business.  The simple gift of space, time, and mentorship allowed me to develop a business model that reflected an understanding of my passions within art.  I believe that we are each missionaries for whatever has captured our heart.  It is through the art fellowship I have come to grasp this gift and better discern how to use this for the glory of God. 

AHD: What was the greatest challenge you faced during your fellowship? What was your most profound discovery?

MR: This was my first job experience where I was truly my own boss (in the sense that it was up to me to decide where to take the gift of this fellowship as it pertains to my business).  The greatest challenge facing me from the start was this– and I began my time unsure of what to do exactly.  Learning to manage my time wisely with the growth of my business in mind has been both testing and refining.  Learning to do this within the scope of my values and purpose as an artist has been profound.  

AHD: What can we look forward to in the future?

MR: As an artist, I hope to be ever growing and learning in order to better serve you.  In the next few months, I will begin my first 6-month subscription series called, Here I Lay, based on beholding God. You can find out more information here on how to become a subscriber.  Sign ups are now open through June 15th.  I have limited spots available, so be sure to sign up while you can!

For more info, follow Mandy's artistic journey: Mandy Rogers Art, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.



Ryan Flanigan

Featured Artist

Ryan Flanigan | Singer Songwriter

Ryan Flanigan is the Music Director at All Saints Dallas and Founder of Liturgical Folk. His mission is to create beautiful and believable sacred music for the sake of the world. He lives in Oak Cliff with his wife Melissa and three kids.

Hometown: Dallas, TX (originally Chicago, IL)

Favorite Spot in Dallas: Davis Street Espresso

Currently Listening to: Sandra McCracken, Billy Joel, Chance the Rapper

AHD: How did you find your passion in songwriting/music?

RF: I grew up in a musical church with a very good music minister who created all kinds of space for musical creativeness, such as a youth choir, cantatas, and piano lessons. I learned how to lead music mostly by watching him lead. At summer camp when I was seventeen I experienced a "worship band" for the first time. I came home and started a youth group worship band. I immediately began writing my own songs and have never looked back.

AHD: You are the music director at All Saints Dallas. How does this vocation effect your creative process?

RF: As an Anglican church rooted in the historic practices of Christian worship, the well of creative material is deep. The story and colors of the Church's calendar provide a rich palette of prayers, architecture, and liturgical styles from which to draw creative inspiration. The leadership of All Saints expects me to engage the culture, so I have the good fortune of spending about half of my time on music within the church and the other half outside of the church. What that looks like for me is setting aside every Monday to write, participating in Art House Dallas events and the artist community, curating a collection of new poetry and music called Liturgical Folk, and creating space for songwriters to gather and develop their skill.

AHD: You just released two albums under the moniker Liturgical Folk. What inspired this project? Do you have a track that is particularly close to you?

RF: A couple years ago I stumbled into creative partnership with Father Nelson Koscheski, a retired priest and poet. Our hymns were the impetus for Liturgical Folk. At the same time over the past couple years I had been setting many of the historic prayers from our prayerbook to singable tunes. I tested out their singability on my kids and my congregation. With all of these new songs bubbling up, as well as a timely connection with producer Isaac Wardell, I approached my tribe, the Anglican Mission, with the vision for Liturgical Folk. My thought was that we could create a multi-volume music resource for the Anglican Mission and other churches. With the support of the Mission, we raised the money to record the first two volumes of Liturgical Folk. Volume 1, Table Settings, consists of twelve singable settings of historic prayers for churches and families. Volume 2, Edenland, consists of twelve new hymns by Father Nelson and myself. If I had to pick a favorite track it would have to be "Lord, Answer Again," track 5 on Edenland. It is a reflection on Jesus in Psalm 4, sung by Lauren Plank Goans of Lowland Hum.

AHD: This was a collaborative partnership between you and Father Nelson Koscheski. Can you tell us a little about the partnership and how you approached the challenges of this project together?

RF: To be honest the collaboration has come pretty easy for us. Fr. Nelson and I are both contemplatives and work best independently. He sits quietly, writes his poems, and emails them to me. I digest his poems and compose my melodies. If there have been any challenges, it would be making sure my melodies match the spirit of his poems. A couple times my first pass at a melody didn't quite do the poem justice, so I'd try again. In all we've written nearly two dozen hymns. Another challenge might be keeping up with him; he has been sending me about one new poem a week!

AHD: Do you have any plans to continue this project in any way? If so, how?

RF: Our plan from the beginning was for this to be a multi-volume music project. It already is, I guess, but if Volumes 1 & 2 generate enough revenue to self-fund more albums, we hope to record again this fall. The vision is also to invite other songwriters and artists into the project. In addition to Fr. Nelson and myself, there were six co-writers involved in Volumes 1 & 2. You'll also hear six different lead vocalists on the recordings. Right now Liturgical Folk is a project, but we think it's more of a category. Honestly, I don't think it's anything new; there are already many artists that I would categorize as liturgical folk artists. I just put a name to it. My hope is that those artists and many others will begin to self-identify as liturgical folk artists, and that the moniker ascribed to my name will become a genre with a life of its own, of which I'm just a part.

AHD: As an active friend to Art House Dallas, how has being part of a creative community impacted your creative process?

RF: In this day and age, people are too busy to create, too bogged down by American life, trying to make money to survive, that there's no room for them to thrive in their artistic callings. Art House Dallas creates space for artists to thrive, to actually make things, intentionally, relationally. Art House has encouraged and inspired me that if I make space in my life to create, and make space for others to create, then we are all more likely to step faithfully into our callings as artists and impact the world around us with our art.

AHD: What can we look forward to in the future?

RF: Songwriting retreats, Art House Songwriters Feedbacks, Art House Origin, Liturgical Folk, Volumes 3, 4, 5, & 6, Liturgical Folk concerts on February 28 and more to come. But presently you can listen to and purchase Liturgical Folk, Volumes 1 & 2 at www.liturgicalfolk.bandcamp.com, or find it on iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify, etc.

Dawn Waters Baker

Dawn Waters Baker | Painter

Featured Artist | September 2016

Dawn feels like her first language was beauty. That was how her heart was stirred to art. Born and raised a missionary kid in the Philippines, she learned to look for it in the cracks and crevices of lives much harder than her own. Even as a young child the landscape was a way to explore and find adventure. She lived in a provincial area in the shadow of Mt. Isarog, an active volcano, which gave the landscape a rich earth and lush color. After she turned 10 they moved to the big city of Manila where poverty became the normal view into everyday life. These two images still run through her heart as she wrestles with the tension between such beauty and the human misery of those who are overlooked. At the age of 19 she moved to the US to go to college where she learned how to find her own way to express her heart through painting. It was through a long road of finding her particular way that she finally came back to the landscape and what she believes is her “window” into the spiritual.

Her art is collected by many businesses as well as private owners, some of which are: Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas Eye Care Associates, and Dallas Baptist University. She finished five original drawings for the book, “Why, O God?” published by Crossway books and is the cover artist for the forthcoming book, “When Suffering is Redemptive” published by Weaver Book Company. She is a Signature member of Artists of Texas. Dawn is affiliated with Mary Tomas Gallery in Dallas Design District, Kate Shin Gallery in New York, NY, Joseph Gierek Fine Art in Tulsa, OK, and currently with White Stone Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. She was also selected as the 2015 Artist in Residence for Big Bend National Park for the entire month of November. She will have a forthcoming solo exhibit in September 2016 based on her time and inspiration at the Park. Her work has been in national shows including The National Weather Biennale, Jubilee Museum of Sacred Art Biennale, CIVA Contemporary Images of Mary and Ex Nihilo at Roberts Wesleyan College.

AHD: Favorite Local Restaurant?
DWB: Ali Baba’s Mediterranean on Central Expressway in Richardson

AHD: Favorite Local Past Time?
DWB: I’m pretty boring as I’m a Mom of three busy girls, but I do love to watch movies at Angelika in Plano, peruse the books at Half Price bookstore and frequent my local Asels in Richardson.

AHD: How did you develop a passion for painting?

DWB: My father would paint as a way to relax. He worked as a missionary/pastor, and he found that painting nature was a joy. I can still remember sitting on the floor watching him paint and the smell of the oils. I must have been about 6 or 7 years old when he patted the seat next to him and said, “come up here and do one too!” He was my first art teacher and inspiration. When I was in Middle School I enrolled in some painting classes with Rudy Herrera who was an avid fan of John Singer Sargent. I majored in Fine Art in College with an emphasis in Drawing and Painting. I would say that painting became THE way to explore when I finally got off on my own and started watching the Texas sky.

AHD: Last fall you had the opportunity to work and paint at Big Bend National Park as their Artist in Residence. Can you tell us about your experience? Where did you draw most of your inspiration from during your time there?

DWB: In 2015 I applied for the Big Bend National Park Artist Residency through the National Park Arts Foundation. I was awarded shortly after and believe it was just one of those open door moments that God gifted through grace and kindness. Through their grants I was fully equipped and able to buy the gas, food and water needed for a month long residency. I stayed with the Park Rangers at Panther Junction in a one-bedroom apartment. Throughout the month of November, I hiked through the wilderness that is Big Bend. It is 800,000 acres so I’m sure I missed some things, but I believe I got to see a great deal. During my stay I encountered coyotes, a mountain lion (I was shaking like a leaf!) and several types of beautiful birds. It was just incredible to see the mountain maples turn into beautiful gem colors as I hiked the Chisos Mountains. My days consisted of waking up early for a sunrise somewhere in the park to hiking and painting during the day and then going somewhere for the sunset. The two times of day that the Park was breathtaking was when the light bent. I taught a workshop while I was there, “Painting the Emotional Landscape”, and gave a final presentation in the Big Bend Amphitheater during Thanksgiving Week. My sweet family was able to come to the park about halfway through and stay with me, so I hiked, painted and worked alongside my family. My three daughters and I made a bird wall where we drew several birds we saw and liked at the park.

My inspiration was the ever changing landscape and shifting shadows. I found the landscape, through the cycles of wind, rain, mist, sun to be a beautiful metaphor of our emotions. I can say that I truly felt the land and was grateful for the time to sit with it.

AHD: It is clear from your work that you draw a lot of your inspiration from nature. When talking about your recent piece “Tender” you reflected on the tenderness shown after the Dallas police shooting. Would you say your inspiration is drawn mostly from natural beauty, personal reflection, or is it a combination of both?

DWB: C.S. Lewis wrote, “Nature is only the image, the symbol; but it is the symbol that Scripture invites me to use. We are summoned to pass in through Nature beyond her, into that splendor which she fitfully reflects” (Weight of Glory). I have this hanging on my wall in the studio as it speaks to how I see Nature. It is the heavy metaphor for life. The Psalms continually paint pictures for us to explore as we see God and humanity through these descriptions. What I believe I’m trying to say is that Nature is worth reflecting on as more than just pleasing to the eye. Beauty is deep and vast. I believe at its best that beauty creates a longing in people’s hearts. So when I reflect on nature and see it through its changing cycles, its hardships and abundance I see my own story and all of human history written there as well. When I painted “Tender” I did not finish until the week of the Dallas shootings. It was a difficult week to try to paint something beautiful, but the portion I was wrestling with was this softness of light that made the mountains look as if they were tenderly holding the light. I thought about the lifespan of those mountain limestone rocks. I thought about how God is there, always with us. So many discussions needed to happen out of what took place in our city that week, but sometimes sitting in silence is the greatest kindness we could give at that moment.

AHD: You are having an art show on September 10 at Mary Tomas Gallery featuring many of the pieces from your time at Big Bend National Park. Where can we direct our community to go and learn more information?

DWB: Yes, this year marks the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks, so I feel that it is a storybook ending to the residency. The show is called, “Reverence: The Big Bend Landscape,” and runs from September 10th until October 22nd. The opening reception will be 5:30pm - 8:30pm. There will also be an Artist Talk on September 24th in conjunction with the DADA Fall Art Walk. Over 20 works that were done in studio and plein air (outdoors) will be available for viewing. I also finished the show book, “Reverence” with contributions from the National Parks Art Foundation, Big Bend National Park, Mary Tomas and Susan Quarterman of White Stone Gallery in Philadelphia. You can go here to order: http://www.blurb.com/b/7289824-reverence.

For more information on the show, please visit: marytomasgallery.com.

AHD: You were recently asked by the Nave Museum in Victoria, Texas for a Two Woman Show in 2018. Can you tell us more about that?

DWB: The Nave Museum asked if they could host a Two Woman Show featuring Mary Tomas and myself. After we looked over the place we both agreed that we would love to do it. Our exhibit is slated for August – September of 2018. I am so pleased and honored to be up with Mary. Her work is just exquisite.

AHD: Art House Dallas believes that art can heal, and has launched a new program “Deploy” to encourage artists to provide the healing power of art to their communities. You have seen the healing power of art first hand by teaching art to juvenile offenders through Alert. How have you seen lives positively impacted by investing your time and talents with these kids?

DWB: ALERT Ministries was started by Christina MacKenzie for incarcerated, sex-trafficked youth and is currently doing work in the Dallas County Juvenile Detention Center. I have been working with the RDT (residential drug treatment and sexually trafficked) girls for the past three years in a life-skills program and have loved every minute of getting to know them and their stories. In September, I am stepping into the new role of Art Teacher for the kids.

I am excited to start teaching them how to express their emotions on canvas (a healthy way to share anger, fear). I believe that as we continue to love, mentor, and invest in these kids, we will see them begin to have hope. Just this week a young lady from ALERT wrote me a letter that said, “I look up to you … as soon as I found out you were an artist. I just love that people are good with artwork because I hope to one day be that good. I believe in God, and I believe He has a loving heart, but I just don’t understand how He works sometimes…” ALERT has set up a place for us to sit with these kids during some of the most pivotal times in their lives and say, God sees you, He loves you, let’s make something together.

For more information about Dawn Waters Baker and her upcoming shows, please visit: www.dawnwatersbaker.com or www.marytomasgallery.com

Paul Demer | Singer - Songwriter

Paul Demer | Singer - Songwriter

Featured Artist | June, 2016

Texas singer-songwriter Paul Demer interweaves spiritual imagery and personal biography to craft thought-provoking, hopeful re-remembrances of old stories. An heir to the melodic, sensitive-songwriter tradition, Demer has been compared to folk troubadours James Taylor and Neil Young, as well as contemporary balladeers Jon Foreman and Andrew Peterson.

AHD: Favorite Hangout:

PD: When in Dallas I like the Corner Market on Lower Greenville. Back home in Arlington my favorite spot is this strange and lovely place called Potager’s Other Stuff.

AHD: What are you currently listening to?

PD: Tom Crouch’s A Civil War of Head & Heart, David Bazan’s Curse Your Branches, and Zach Winters’ They Were Longing For a Better Country have all been on repeat lately.

AHD: How did you get your start in music?

PD: My dad plays viola in the Dallas symphony and my mom, who used to be in the Fort Worth symphony, is a violin teacher. There was always music in the house growing up and I started learning to play violin in elementary school. In middle school I discovered Weezer and Death Cab, and I started picking up the guitar and singing. I began writing songs around that time and played in different bands all through high school. In college we all went our separate ways, but I started playing solo shows almost every weekend. Haven’t stopped yet…

AHD: Congratulations on releasing your new album Maybe All Is Not Lost in January 2016! Tell us about the inspiration behind this incredible project!

PD: Thanks for the kind words! This project is unlike anything I’ve done before. For the last couple years I’ve been working as music director at a new church start in Mansfield called Galileo Church. As the church has grown and found its voice, we’ve sung songs from multiple hymnals, from contemporary songwriters, and from “secular” radio. Still, there were songs that we needed to sing that hadn’t been written yet. So I tried to write those songs and the church learned them. Then, last fall the church encouraged me to share these songs with other congregations, so I recorded them.

Lyrically, the album moves through our weekly liturgy -- the centering of our whole selves for worship, the corporate prayer of the church, the reading of and wrestling with Scripture, the preaching of the Good News, the confession of our sins, and the affirmation of our Lord’s all-inclusive table. If you listen to the whole album from front to back it should sound and feel like a church service. My hope is that listeners might find their hearts drawn close to the heart of God.

AHD: Where can we find your new album?

PD: You can find it on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon MP3, Bandcamp, Noisetrade, my website (pauldemer.com), and in the back of my Kia Soul…

AHD: You claim this album provided some much needed community in contrast to your last album. How did this creative collaboration affect your creative process?

PD: I wrote and recorded my last album in a period of transition. Most of my musical friends had moved away for college, and I just wasn’t all that connected. So I bought a drum set and some recording equipment and tried to make a record on my own. I’m still proud of that album, but it was a pretty lonely season.

In contrast, it took a village to make Maybe All is Not Lost. My beautiful church community inspired the songs, several of my best friends (and family) lent me their musical and artistic talents, and 88 generous crowd-funders paid for it before ever hearing a note. Because of that, it feels a lot less like my album and more like our album. We built it together. The support was so humbling and pushed me to make better art than I would have on my own.

AHD: How important is community and collaboration to your creative process? How has being a member of the Art House Dallas community affected your work as an artist?

PD: It’s becoming more and more important to my creative process. When I first discovered Art House Dallas I did most of my songwriting by myself. Now I’ve co-written songs with Cary Pierce (Jackopierce), Ryan Flanigan (All Saints Dallas), and others. Also, my girlfriend (who I met through Art House) and I collaborate on bi-weekly YouTube covers and have been backing each other up at shows. I’ve made lots of other friends too. It’s so great to do art in a community like this. I’m really grateful.

AHD: Your video series with Trisha Jeanette (“Songbird & Strings”) is so enchanting. What can we expect from this collaboration in the future?

PD: Enchanting… Can I put that in our bio? You can expect more cover song videos every other Monday. We love the ritual (and the occasional last-minute panic) of doing these regularly. We’ll keep filming them as long as we can keep finding cool locations. We’re actually planning to film one in Toronto in the future.

In addition to our Songbird & Strings videos we’ve been collaborating on our original music. Trish sings harmonies with me at my shows, and I play guitar with her at hers. We’re in the very early stages of recording an EP of her tunes, which are incredible. Hopefully she’ll be able to release that by the end of this year.

AHD: You just finished a run of local shows opening for different touring artists and will be doing a few summer shows/workshops in the next few months. What do you like most about performing? And what about teaching?

PD: I love when people sing along. That’s probably my favorite thing. Even when I’m playing for a crowd I’ve never met before I try to get them singing. I also really like meeting people, especially when I’m performing out of town. I think that’s why house concerts are my favorite; they’re so conducive to actually meeting people and having conversations you couldn’t have at a bar or traditional venue. I fashion myself a social introvert. Performing drains me but I love it nonetheless.

I’ve been performing since middle school, but teaching is new for me. I have one guitar student, this little girl at my home church, who is rocking it! But that’s really my only experience with teaching so far. This music festival in Wisconsin, the Mile of Music Festival, invited me to lead a songwriting workshop in August, which is something I’ve never done before. I’m excited about it though. If it’s anything like teaching my guitar student, I’ll learn a lot myself. I don’t really know my own songwriting process, because I’ve never had to explain it to someone else. I’m glad that can change at the Mile of Music this summer.

AHD: Art House Dallas is launching a new program called Deploy, which provides a way for artists to use their talents to encourage others through the power of creativity. You are familiar with serving in this way since you lead sing-alongs at nursing homes for Texas Winds Musical Outreach. How has this effort impacted those you serve? How has this impacted you as an artist?

PD: I’ve seen non-communicative stroke victims sing every word of “You Are My Sunshine.” I’ve seen stoic widows and widowers brought to tears after hearing the Frank Sinatra song that reminded them of their loved one. I’ve seen piss-stained nursing homes glimmer with God’s radiance as residents sing “Amazing Grace.” I’ve been kissed by a 90-some-year-old Holocaust survivor. I’ve played a birthday party for three 100-year-old women. I’ve led sing-alongs in the richest assisted living facilities and the poorest Alzheimer’s units.

In all these instances I’ve been floored by what music can do for people –- really, what God can do for people through music. It’s been said that music is the language of the heart, but I don’t know that I really understood what that meant until I started working for Texas Winds. All these experiences impact me just as much as they impact the people I meet. I’m continually reminded that art is not just a luxury but a basic need. Music reminds us that we are alive, even when life doesn’t feel like living. There’s a song in there somewhere.

AHD: How important is it to use your gifts to serve others?

PD: I’m incredibly privileged to get to serve others by doing what I love professionally. I’ve heard vocation defined as the intersection of giftedness, occupation, and service. More and more I’m assured that music is my vocation - maybe more so at the nursing home than at the sushi bar – but, even at the sushi bar, I’ve been encouraged and reminded that the songs I sing can and do serve people. My favorite musicians have served me through their honest art, and I hope that I can do the same for others.

Follow Paul’s musical journey here: pauldemer.com 


Brooke Fossey | Writer

Brooke Fossey | Writer

Featured Artist | February 2016

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Brooke Fossey is the President of DFW Writers' Workshop, which boasts a membership of nearly 200 local authors. She is a web content contributor to the literary magazine Carve and a Tin House Winter Workshop alumna. She’s known to be solar powered and naturally caffeinated. She also has a mechanical engineering degree, an MBA, four kids and a writing habit she can't shake. You can find her @BAFossey.

Age: 37

Favorite Dallas Hangout: Wild Detectives

Favorite Author: David Foster Wallace (too pretentious?) Jonathan Franzen (too controversial?) Dave Eggers (just right.)

AHD: Christopher Booker believes there are only 7 story plots in existence. In your essay Creating an (Un)original Story Idea, you find this both ‘discomforting’ and ‘reassuring’. As an author, how do you find the balance between this discomfort and reassurance in order to create something unique?

BF: The reassuring part of Booker’s theory is that writers aren’t obligated to invent the pieces that make a story whole. That’s already been done. All we need to do is arrange those pieces in such a way that a reader will think we’ve invented something. It’s a mind-trip. A story has to have all these recognizable parts or the reader will be disappointed, but it can’t look too familiar or…the reader will be disappointed.

As an artist you’ve got to trust no one can see the world quite like you, and even if they could, no one would relay it the same way. Case and point: When you give two writers a story prompt, they don’t produce duplicate tales. Put painters in front of a flower vase and see the same phenomenon on their canvases. Watch Top Chef. Those guys all get the same ingredients and still manage to produce drastically different dishes.

I guess the point is that balance comes from you being you, doing whatever it is you do. The rest will fall into place.

AHD: You write openly about the frustrations of the post-writing process and the discouragement that can come with it. How would you encourage aspiring writers who find themselves discouraged in their journey to publication?

BF: Fingers crossed that my answer doesn’t sound like a cheesy inspirational poster quote. Perspiration! Perseverance! Patience!

So here’s the rub: Sometimes your dream project turns out to be a practice project. Sometimes you’ve worked for years in the field and all you’ve managed to do is till soil. (This is actually a specialty of mine. I’m hoping for a big, big crop one day.)

The scary part about any art is not the doing part. The doing part is fun and fulfilling. The frightening bit is putting it out there with the possibility it won’t be validated by others, and every artist knows that’s guaranteed to happen at least once (or more).

You spend so much time writing, first because of the intrinsic value. Then you think: I should monetize this, considering all the time I’ve invested. Then you discover no one is willing to pay you for it, and you become (understandably) discouraged. Then you start thinking time invested is actually time wasted. Then you quit. The end.

But actually, not the end. If you really have the writing bug, you will always come back to the page for the intrinsic value. The fun. The fulfillment. If you never forget that part, the words will keep coming. And eventually, all those beautiful words will pay off in ways you never expected.

AHD: It is said Sir Walter Scott composed poetry on horseback; Joseph Heller claims he wrote some of his best work on the bus; and Woody Allen found some early inspiration on subway rides. Is there a place that you find particularly inspirational where you do your best work?

BF: I have four kids, so my inspirational spot is usually anywhere my kids aren’t…which means I do my best work hiding in closets. (I would have it no other way. They are an amazing bunch.)

But in our crazy house, I live by Jack London’s words: “You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." Give me a computer and a solid hour anywhere, and I’m on my way.

AHD: As the President of DFW Writers’ Workshop, which boasts a large network of popular authors, how has becoming a part of a community of artists influenced your work? Do you feel it is important to surround yourself with people who understand the journey you are on?

BF: Being part of a community of artists is essential. Do or die. Find your family, and quick!

The writing family I was lucky enough to be folded into introduced me to my voice. What I mean to say is: everyone has a voice, obviously, but putting it on paper is another matter entirely. It can get buried in forced metaphors or terrible dialogue or overwrought narrative. But if you find a family who loves you and wants to see you succeed, they’ll help you shed that sort of clutter faster than if you go it alone.

Organizations like Art House Dallas and DFW Writers’ Workshop foster these sorts of communities in such amazing ways. Artists aren’t competing against each other. We’re propping each other up. We’re sharing. We’re making each other better. And the best part: you can bottle up people’s energy and enthusiasm about your work and save it for later, for when you’re sitting alone, tilling your field.

AHD: Your organization puts on the yearly DFW Writers Conference, which has become the premier writer’s conference in the Southwest. What can we expect from the DFWCon this year?

BF: DFW Con is a labor of love, and I think the love shows. It’s put on by DFW Writer’s Workshop (a nonprofit organization) and is 100% volunteer run.

This is DFW Con’s ninth year, and it gets better every time. This year we’re at the Fort Worth Convention Center on April 23-24th. Like always, the DFW Con committee has put together an amazing program. Attendees get to pitch their books and clink glasses with a dozen established literary agents. And when they aren’t schmoozing they have a selection of over forty craft and business classes to attend, plus they can catch three keynote speakers.

The theme of this year’s conference is: “Writing for a Better World.” It fits unbelievably well with Art House Dallas’s mission of “cultivating creativity for the common good.”

It’s almost like this Q&A was meant to be. My heart be still!

AHD: Where can writers go to learn more about and sign up for the DFW Writer’s Conference?

www.dfwcon.org - @DFWCon www.dfwwritersworkshop.org - @DFW_Writers Can’t wait to see ya’ll there!

Kate Petty | Author

Kate Petty | Author

Featured Artist | June, 2015

Kate’s storytelling humbly began at the age of three with a mystical scroll of stories (i.e., a bamboo sushi mat) and an awe-stricken, captivated audience (i.e., two very amused parents). Eventually she traded the sushi mat for a notebook and then a computer, but she likes to think she’s maintained the same spirit for invention and creativity.

Kate studied filmmaking and screenwriting in college. Her background includes documentary production, corporate videography, photography, and editorial writing. The variety of her experiences opened the door to work as the Director of Marketing for a technology company in Dallas.

She worked with the company until she decided to craft a life better suited to her passions and talents. Kate now focuses on encouraging others to pursue their own passions while maintaining her commitment to live intentionally and with purpose.

Age: 22

Favorite Dallas Restaurant:  Velvet Taco

Favorite Dallas Coffee Shop: Union, mostly because of the wonderful people who work there. But their coffee is great too.

AHD: June 4, 2015 is a big day for you. Why is that?

KP: June 4th is the official release day of my first novel, Holes in the Plan. The book tells the story of a brother and sister starting a doughnut shop. June 4th is also the day before National Doughnut Day which, believe it or not, I did not plan intentionally.

I should also clarify that the book is about more than doughnuts. On a higher level, it’s about finding the things you love and are well-suited to do and going after them.

In our society, we go through the first twenty-odd years of our lives developing plans for how we’re going to spend the next forty years. There’s still this expectation that you’re supposed to go to college, get a degree, and then go find a career in that field. Holes in the Plan follows a brother and sister who get into their careers and see the flaws, or holes, in the plans they’ve crafted for themselves.

AHD: What, or who, has helped you achieve such a major accomplishment as writing and publishing your first novel? How so?

KP: So many circumstances and people went into making my goals a reality, it’s hard to describe succinctly. I went through a pretty bleak season of life before really pursuing writing, and I will forever be grateful for the people who stuck by me during that. I know I wasn’t a lot of fun to be around. An eclectic group—my family, a few friends, the occasional stranger—walked me through the challenge of moving past all of the negative voices, both internal and external.

It surprised me, really, how much negativity I encountered, and a lot of it by people I expected support from. I don’t feel any bitterness toward them. In the end they were just another piece that pushed me forward, and none of them intended to be hurtful. I think their reactions were more a function of them not understanding me than anything else.

You just have to pick up, move on, and surround yourself with your people which, for me, didn’t really come together until the last year or so. It was such a poignant experience to have people say, “I understand,” “I’ve been there,” or “I know how you’re feeling,” and then let me lean on them during a time when I had very little to give. In short, community, played the biggest role in getting me where I am.

Community is something that gets talked about a lot and frequently gets pigeonholed as this formal, rule-abiding, cohesive group of people. For me and a lot of other people, I’m sure, that’s not what it looks like. Community is a mom who only needs to take one look at you to say, “I’ll pray for you just in case you can’t pray for yourself right now.” It’s a friend who says, “Do your thing right now, but if you’re still in this same spot in a month we’re going to talk about it.” It’s a brother and sister who take you to Austin and then to Colorado to get you out of town and remind you that there’s more to life than the little bubble you spend most of your existence in.

AHD: For a long time you were fairly certain you were going to seek traditional publishing. Why did you ultimately choose to self-publish?

KP: From everything I could gather, the popular thought seemed to be that if you were capable of doing your own formatting, marketing, promotion and distribution and you were willing to do it, then you should self-publish.

My pride really wanted that publisher’s stamp of approval on my work, but I know a lot of really talented writers go unpublished just because the market is so saturated. Even getting an agent to look at my book looked like it was going to be next to impossible. Meanwhile, everything I needed to publish myself was well within reach.

Looking back, I can’t imagine giving up any of the creative control I got to experience with things like the cover design and the layout.

AHD: So you’re a writer, but we know you do more than that. What are your other creative pursuits? And how do you see those areas of creativity interconnect with your writing?

KP: I also work as a videographer, photographer, and front-end web developer. In my mind, it’s all about telling a story, and I love how many different outlets I get an opportunity to do so. They’re incredibly different, of course, but strategizing with a company on the best way to communicate their brand has all the same elements of writing a novel: start with the big picture—who you are and what you’re about, drill down into the details, the voice, etc., and then come up with a clever and creative way to communicate it.  

AHD: Do you ever wrestle with your identity as a creative?

KP: Not as much as I used to, but I imagine it will always be something of a struggle. For a long time my main issue was giving myself “permission” to claim what, in my mind, is such a noble and arbitrary sort of calling. Now I tend to get hung up on appreciating the role of the process versus the outcome and what I achieve.

We were talking about this in our Art House Dallas writers group one day when Sarah Kay, one of the writers, asked, “Is it what I hand in to a publisher that makes me a writer, or is it carving out time every day to sit at my desk and write?”

I try to remember that when I’m feeling frustrated with my resume, as it were, because I’m such a goal-oriented person that I forget to honor and appreciate the journey. Both parts are important. You can’t have one without the other.

AHD: If someone wants to pursue full-time work in their particular area(s) of creativity—as you did in the last year—what advice would you give?

KP: Do it. Be smart about it, but absolutely give serious consideration to doing it.

My dad always pushed me to make decisions by thinking of my Big Life Goal and then working backwards to determine what needed to happen to get me there. For me, the BLG is doing the things I believe I’ve been uniquely created to do, i.e., writing, communicating, and whatnot.

On a practical level, that looked like living at home, saving a third of my paychecks for nearly a year, working my tail off to get freelance jobs, and ultimately looking for, waiting on, and having faith in the Lord’s provision to make it work.

But you have to have something resembling a plan. I’m a huge advocate of forgoing a status quo lifestyle in the pursuit of a more meaningful existence (obviously, I wrote a book about it), but that does not mean marching into your boss’s office guns blazing, quitting with a  passionate diatribe about the ills of corporate America, and burning all your business casual wardrobe.

AHD: Is it too premature to ask what your next book is going to be about?

KP: Not if you’re okay with a vague, abstract description! My next book explores the idea of “grit,” defined in Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk as the “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals,” i.e., the intangible thing that brings success to people who have every excuse to not become successful.

I’m incredibly intrigued by how there are people who find joy and purpose in life despite rough backgrounds or painful childhoods, and then you also meet people who are bitter and calloused, that when you hear their story you think, “Oh, that makes sense.” What’s the difference between them? What variable accounts for such a difference in outcomes?

AHD: Where should people go if they want to learn more about Holes in the Plan or your photography and videography?

KP: My website is generally the best bet: KatePetty.com, but I definitely am better at staying up to date with the little details on Instagram (@kate_petty).

Margaret Barrett | Composer

Margaret Barrett | Composer

Featured Artist | October, 2014

Margaret received her Bachelor of Music from Baylor University, under the direction of Dr. Scott McAllister for composition and Dr. James Williams for piano performance. Margaret stayed at Baylor for her Master of Music in composition, which she completed in 2010. During this degree she continued to study with Dr. Scott McAllister, save for a stint in Prague at the Czech-American Summer Music Institute in 2009, where she studied with Florida State’s Dr. Ladislav Kubik. 

From 2010-2013, Margaret served as an adjunct professor teaching composition, music theory, ear-training and serving as a collaborative pianist at Baylor University, McLennan Community College, University of Texas at Arlington and at North Lake Community College.   Since 2009, Margaret has also worked in the production department of the Ojai Music Festival in Southern California, where she now serves seasonally as the Assistant Producer. She now serves as the Executive Director at Voices of Change. Currently, she is rehearsing her 30-minute composition Universal Language, writing a percussion piece for Mark Utley at University of New York, Stony Brook, and preparing to manage the production of Steven Stucky's The Classical Style at Carnegie Hall in December of 2014.

Age: 28

Favorite Dallas Restaurant: La Calle Doce

Favorite Dallas Coffee Shop: Mudsmith

AHD: Four-piece rock bands seem to be a little more prevalent than classically trained composers. Can you tell us a little bit about your unique journey and how you came to write for live performances by classical and experimental musicians?

MB: I went to college to study composition with the end goal of being a singer-songwriter. I had always gravitated most to music by songwriters such as Joni Mitchell or Billy Joel, as well as various rock and jazz artists. So as I set out for college, I saw the study of music composition as a way to fully understand the craft of musical expression and become the best songwriter possible.

For my 18-year-old self, musical expression was about finding the right chords, an infectious rhythm, a haunting melody and beautiful acoustic guitar picking. But studying the craft of classical composition showed me how much more was possible with the art of musical expression. "Chords" expanded from "three note structures, either major or minor" to any two or more notes that sounded at the same time to express something. Instead of being trapped in traditional 3/4, 4/4, 12/8 or 6/8 meters, I learned to embrace rhythm as a much less defined concept, one that really meant the way music occurs through time. Melodies could take many more shapes than I realized, and some notes I might not have considered brought completely new sonic possibilities to my songs. Lastly, the instrument families that are possible in the world of "composition" allow for absolutely any timbre I wanted - ranging from banging trash can lids to marimbas to oboes to a lion's roar (an actual instrument!). Each of these sounds actually can express something - and I had had no idea of the power of such expression.

Essentially, studying music composition opened me up creatively in a way I NEVER thought possible. The time in both my undergraduate and master's degrees exposed me to other composers who were trying to think hard and philosophically about what "aural art and expression" can mean. I fell in love with that approach, and it was actually there much more than songwriting that I found my own artistic voice.

AHD: Your 30-minute composition Universal Language will be performed by the Obscure Dignitaries November 22nd.  Tell us about the work and what it is a response to?

MB: Universal Language is a work composed for my friends and their band, The Obscure Dignitaries. The composition was written as a response to an art exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art called Concentration 57: Slavs and Tatars. Essentially, the art exhibit focuses on the oppression that has been experienced by people groups east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China. This exhibit especially highlights the oppression that has come through "linguistic-politics". This term refers the circumstance of powers who enforce a certain way of speaking or writing (e.g. an alphabet system) on other people groups, therefore stifling cultural and linguistic identity and development of others as a way of enforcing power and control. This exhibit expresses through various visual media the gravity of these oppressive systems.

Dr. David Silva, a linguistics professor at University of Texas at Arlington, and I came up with the idea to set the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to music. David formed the (lengthy) libretto of Universal Language into languages that are represented in the Slavs and Tatars exhibit. Therefore, the music seeks to assert in various languages of the affected regions the freedoms and inalienable rights that are inherent to being a part of the human race.

AHD: The themes of language, equality, human rights, freedom and unity pervade both the exhibition Concentrations 57: Slavs and Tatars and your own composition. Why are those themes important to you?

MB: There is just so much hurt and brokenness in this world, to the point that it can overwhelm me. What can I do about Ebola, ISIS, and military oppression? These questions plague me on a regular basis, and despair inevitably ensues, as I cannot find a lasting solution. But a quote from Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz has stuck with me: "Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I fix what is wrong with the person in the mirror."

I believe the hardest thing about changing the world is changing ourselves, and the little injustices we present to the world every day. The failures of our world are symptomatic of a disease that exists within each one of us; these symptoms range from regret, broken relationships and insecurities to power struggles, oppression, poverty and war. If each of us could just change ourselves; but the fact is, we can't do this no matter how hard we try. We struggle with our insecurities, our own choices, our broken nature, our personal limits, we struggle to love others the way we would like to, we strive to improve and yet we continue to violate the freedoms and the inherent dignity of other human beings. But I am reminded that Christ came specifically to set us free. That by ourselves, humanity is too limited to fix our world's failures.

But God came as a man to dwell with us, to love us, and by loving us, show us the way to freedom and thereby save us from ourselves. That Christ is our hope for any freedom at all. So ultimately I am inspired to write music about the themes of oppression to encourage the oppressed, to remind us that each of us is given inherent dignity by God, that we all play a part in the oppressions of the world, and to point to the love of Christ as the place where we can bring that brokenness and expect ultimate liberation.

AHD: Fine Arts Chamber Players commissioned your work with funding from the 2014 TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund. Why is it important to support the advancement of new works in the area of performing arts?

MB: There are multiple reasons to support new work:

1) The arts are powerful; part of the reason you are probably reading this blog post is because you believe that. Composers, playwrights, songwriters and choreographers aspire to create works that influence individuals and our greater culture, and presumably you can think of a time where a play, a piece of music or an element of dance changed and influenced something inside you. However, in order for you to have that experience, multiple factors (and multiple costs!) had to come together: The artist having the time to create, then having the manpower and additional artists commit to the work (a choreographer depends on dancers, a composer depends on musicians, a playwright depends on actors), then finding the stage facilities that accommodate such a performance, not to mention depending on an audience to come and experience the work! All for your (and hopefully many others') life altering experience in the audience.

So much goes into new creation, and in every age new creation has been made possible by the individual patrons, donors and audience members who care, who give their time, money and efforts to make the art possible.  So support performing arts if you like performing arts, because without your support NONE of this happens.

2) Art reflects not just the individual that made it, but the time and place the art was made as well. It reflects our current culture, and therefore art serves as a way to historically catalogue the journey of the human artist and her spirit. One should support the development of new works of performing art for posterity.

3) Excitement of new work and experimentation: I think of each creator as a bit of a pioneer spirit, we all yearn to try new things. What's amazing about art is that the expressive possibilities are never exhausted. By supporting new works in performing arts through your attendance or your time or money, you are affirming this pioneer spirit, the sense that innovation somehow always needs to continue, and that artists can have the capacity to do that. It is a very exciting experience to be a part of a work that is on the cutting-edge. It's having a front row seat to hearing the new expressions of the human spirit, it's an opportunity to see and hear things you've maybe never heard before, it's an opportunity to have your mind opened up even more to new and undiscovered aesthetics, and that's exciting! So find out what new works are happening in your area, and go partake. I guarantee that if you invest yourself in understanding new art, it will change you and you will learn something!

AHD: In addition to freelance composition, you're also head Voices of Change, a professional chamber music ensemble dedicated to the performance of “music of our time.” Why are you drawn to contemporary composition, and what can others learn from it?

MB: Personally, I'm a bit of a modernist at heart. I tend towards reading modern literature, listening to modern music and even watching modern films. Though I studied the great musical masters like Beethoven, Brahms, Tschaikovsky, I'm not really interested in listening to them anymore. What interests me is what the living person is creating, how that is inevitably influenced and shaped by current culture and the artist's life, and how it can speak to us today in a very profound way.  

Contemporary music can have a stereotype of being "ugly" or "hard to understand." I couldn't disagree more. Contemporary music is the area in which I find the most musical bravery and freedom and expression. In order to be "beautiful" to our western ears, music often follows a specific subset of rules. But artists are often compelled to break rules and see what happens, and contemporary music is filled with composers who are questioning what music really means, and are making art with sound in ways some of us might never imagine.  

The great thing is that if you are around this sort of music-making that does not follow old rules, that in fact makes up new ones or follows none at all, you discover a new kind of beauty that you never knew existed. It turns out that our mainstream definition of what makes music beautiful can be very true, it's just also very limited. Contemporary music can make you redefine what's beautiful and in turn become more of a lover of music than you thought possible!

AHD: For a novice, what is the best way to engage with and eventually appreciate classical and experimental music?

For a novice, the best thing you can do is expose yourself to new music. Try it! Pay attention to it and ask yourself questions: Why is the musician playing the notes he's playing? What might a composer have in mind when she asked the percussionist to play those instruments? What does their particular sound evoke? And then, feel free to hate it. Feel free to love it. But don't form an opinion until you've engaged with it.  Ask questions about it and learn from it. We don't always expect a positive audience in contemporary music, that's part of the fun! As a newcomer, your opinion of the music is valid. No outside knowledge is requested or required for you to have an informed opinion and experience of an aural artwork.  

With Voices of Change, for example, when we perform a brand new work, we often have the composer there to explain his creative process and why he wrote what he did. So for the newcomer, these experiences can be especially helpful as they'll teach so much about what is going on in the mind of a composer. New music is often abstract and very unfamiliar, so it's intimidating to many. But learning from the artists themselves will break down those walls of intimidation and help you realize that the modern day composer is speaking to the same modern day experiences you are having. You might have a lot more in common with a modern musical work than you think!

AHD: How did you choose the local world-folk music group the Obscure Dignitaries to perform your composition?

MB: Actually, the reason I chose to write for the Obscure Dignitaries was multi-faceted.  First, because they specifically play music from the regions addressed in the Slavs and Tatars exhibit- therefore the seven languages in which the work is set as well as the musical idioms I might borrow from those regions would not be altogether unfamiliar for the musicians. Secondly, have you heard them?! They are amazing musicians (and fabulous people), willing to experiment, improvise, and think openly about new musical expressions. They do this with technique and thoughtfulness, and I knew they'd come to the project seriously and skillfully. I just felt that writing for them was both the perfect fit for the thematic material of the work, and that their musicianship would result in a very fun and successful artistic collaboration.

AHD: Where can we go to learn more about your DMA performance and other projects you have in the works?

MB: If you want to find out more about the upcoming performance, check out the Fine Arts Chamber Players website, the DMA website, the Obscure Dignitaries website. My website is currently getting updated, but should be available soon at www.margaretcbarrett.com. There you can soon keep up to date on upcoming premieres of my work, submit a request for a commission, or just listen to previous works I've composed. But until that's up, you can also just touch base with me directly at margaret@voicesofchange.org!

Marcy Cook | Painter

Marcy Cook | Painter

Featured Artist | October 2014

Age: 25

Bio: Marcy was born in Texas and attended Baylor University where she earned her BFA in Painting. She now works at her floral design business, Stems of Dallas. 

Marcy's aesthetic draws from the movement and change in seasons. Marcy's study of color is directly inspired by her floral design work with a primary focus in acrylic paint. She works with varying washes and intense layering to create a surface that evokes a feeling that can only be created and connected through the play of color contrast.

Favorite hangout in Dallas: The Old Monk on Henderson Ave, Times Ten Cellars in Lakewood, and White Rock Lake at sunset.

Favorite Dallas music venue: The Kessler – definitely!


Tell us about your beginnings and development as an artist. When did you first recognize yourself as an artist? What role did creativity play in your growth as an artist?

The first time I realized I loved creating was with my dad as a little girl. I remember staying home from school one day because I was sick, and he taught me how to draw a house, with a white picket fence and long driveway, in perspective. Later on, in high school, I picked up a paintbrush, loved it and decided to study visual arts for my college degree. Creativity in painting, for me specifically, is an outlet in my life that I can’t even really explain. I have to feel rested, inspired and refreshed to paint, but when those moments come, I make the pieces I’m most proud of.


Most of your work seems to give glimpse into seasons, beauty and life through the inspiration of floral design. Can you expand on the draw of floral design and its importance in your creative process?

Floral design, in it’s essence, feels just like painting. Moving elements and textures around to get the overall balance and movement that draws your eye. I think the main thing about floral that inspires me is the intricacy and detail, and unique quality in each specific bloom. It’s easy to be inspired by the grand + great that God has created in this world, but to literally STOP and SMELL and SEE the roses, to focus on the specific and tiny beauty of a dahlia or a peony is extraordinarily inspiring for me. Even the way a specific petal holds and bleeds it’s specific color is mind blowing to me. 


As an artist who is both a full-time floral designer and business owner, how do you balance creativity with practicality and functionality?

Honestly, it can be really tricky. I think over time, I’m learning the power of “no” in so many instances. Passing up the “good” so I can be a part of the “great”. There are only so many hours in a day, and only so many things my hands can create, so I’m trying to allow myself to rest, and to give space to make a mess, to be a mess and ultimately, to create something worthwhile. Being the business owner, is the best part. It's such a challenging and fulfilling element of being a creative person. It’s trying to find the balance between messy and colorful and controlled but organized. Thank goodness I have a business partner who is, actually, organized and steadfast.


Would you describe how vocation and the rhythm of your everyday life gives room for creativity? What other sources of inspiration do you regularly pull from? 

I think the main thing about the rhythm of my everyday life is that it is ever changing. And for me, specifically, that allows me to feel different, always changing and growing, and that ultimately inspires me. Having consistency and too much “normalcy” is what gets me in a rut creatively. The main source of inspiration for me is travelling and seeing the world. Also, when I’m really needing to see and feel something new, I love to check out new artists – there’s something really valuable about studying and appreciating the art + artists that draw you.


What's it like having a physical artist community around you, and a virtual one waiting just a few clicks away? Please describe the importance and how they differ. 

Having a physical community allows me to be free from comparison, and to see the deep reality of art and artists. People who create beautiful things are much more raw than they seem on social media outlets. It’s great to know and appreciate the struggle of life and work in someone who is also making incredible things.


What are you working on this fall, and where can we go to see, purchase, and commission your work?

I’m working on a few commissions for some great people but other than that, taking a DEEP breath to focus on my business. I just got home from a great trip to Italy, and have a few trips lined up for the fall/winter that will help me get refreshed and ready to paint. I’d really like to buckle down and work on a cohesive group of paintings that can be shown together. Since graduating, my work has been changing and growing a lot, and I want to spend this season creating one cohesive body. You can check out my work at marcycookart.com, my instagram is a great place to see what I’m making as it’s happening, and at the Rachel Nash Gallery.

Crystal Yates | Singer - Songwriter



Crystal Yates has been in the music industry for nearly 15 years, she is no stranger to writing, performing, and recording, having played across the US and Western Europe in the last 5 years.  Crystal is a frequent songwriter, with not only her own original writing but also collaborations with #1 Country writer and CMA award winner Don Poythress, Dove Award winning songwriter Jennie Lee Riddle, Nashville songwriter and producer, Michael Farren, and others.Since the release of her 2011 project, "Love Wins", the response has been phenomenal, and Crystal has since been a featured performer at the  Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, The Wildflower Singer/Songwriter Festival, Good Morning Texas, Texas Independent Music Expo, and many more.

In 2011, she released "Love Wins", which featured her original songs as well as co-writes with ASCAP award winner Don Pythress and Dowe Award winner Jennie Lee Riddle and others. Crystal was recently named the winner of in the 2014 Texaco Country Show, the largest country music competition whose past contestants include Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley and more. She is currently working on her 2nd album, with Grammy award winning producer Charlie Peacock, due out September 2014, with a new single, Goodbye Letter to be released in Spring 2014.

Hometown: Originally from Niceville, FL but I make my home in McKinney, TX

Favorite hangout:  My kitchen or my friends' kitchens  ;)  Also McKinney Farmer's Market, Pecan Lodge BBQ in Deep Ellum, Thai Noodle Wave in McKinney

Currently listening to: Kacey Musgraves, Mary Gauthier, Grace Potter

AHD: How did you get started singing and writing songs, and how do you describe your current style?

CY: As little girl I fell so thoroughly in love with music. I sang an old Hank Williams tune "Why Don't You Love Me" before I knew my ABC's. My parents exposed me to country music legends Waylon Jennings, Don Williams, Patsy Cline, Keith Whitley, Ronnie Milsap, Willie Nelson...the list goes on and on. At 5 years old I went to a concert at my granny's church and I was so captivated by my emotions and the way the music touched my soul. From then on, I knew I wanted to communicate that way, and touch hearts with music. I also began to listen to strong, soulful female vocalists like Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. They became part of my artist DNA. I guess I would describe my music as soulful, country(ish).
As for writing music, in 5th grade I fell in love with the poetry of Shel Silverstein and started writing short poems that later turned into songs.  Interestingly, I later found out that Shel wrote the popular Johnny Cash tune "A Boy Named Sue".

AHD: You're working on a new EP with Art House America co-founder and music producer extraordinaire Charlie Peacock. How did you team up with Charlie for this latest project, and what has the working relationship been like?

CY: Well, I got involved with Art House because I finally discovered that so many projects and artists I loved had a common thread...Charlie Peacock :) I began to admire his ability to capture an artist.
The artists he was recording felt exactly right, even though they are from different genres and walks of life. As I delved deeper I ran into Art House Dallas. I loved the mission of Art House and went to a pub gathering, Art House Exchange. I loved the community and I met Marissa Delcambre and we arranged a lunch meeting. She prayed over our meal, for me and she captured my heart! The rest is history. I love Art House and Marissa and have been involved since.
And working with Charlie has been absolutely everything I imagined it to be. He is wise, has good sound opinions, and listens to mine. It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I feel that he really is rooting for the artists. The experience he brings to the table sets a relaxed tone in a space where I can get really intense and intimidating. I think he has a good heart and that makes for a positive atmosphere. He has an amazing reputation...not by accident he truly is a creative soul that understands creative souls.

AHD: Besides writing your own songs, you've collaborated with several award-winning songwriters in the industry. How have these collaborations helped you grow as an artist?

CY: They have helped me conquer a life long battle of needing to be right for the sake of people pleasing. It has greatly exposed these insecurities -- I had no choice but to admit it and face it head on when I came to these crossroads. I arrived at a new and glorious epiphany: I really can't please everyone and I don't need to. I was created to be exactly who I am. I have purpose. Don't be afraid. This world needs us all coming from different walks of life, different cultures, and different mindsets. We all have purpose. Collaboration and community makes us stronger. I am not completely terrified of being wrong anymore and I have become a better listener. You could say collaboration has put my people pleasing in remission.

AHD: You're fresh off a big win at the Texaco Country Showdown, the nation's largest and longest-running country music talent search. Can you tell us about the showdown, and what it means to have taken home grand prize?

CY: Well, apart from the prize money and the title, I've gotten to work with my bucket list producer to help me create my album -- Charlie! The Texaco Showdown experience was all so surreal. We entered it early last year just to see what it was like because we had so many people at our shows telling us we should enter our country songs.  So we finally did, and then we just kept on winning round after round.

When we won the regional finals in New Mexico last year, we were beyond overjoyed because that meant we would be playing at the Ryman auditorium in Nashville, home of the Grand Ole Opry! I was worried I would fall out flat! Ha! It was surreal enough just to have that opportunity, but then they announced we won! My husband, Will, and I well...we cried like teenage girls after a breakup! We had visited that stage over 17 years ago in college and said “let's take a picture...we will never get to sing here” and to our surprise, it actually happened!

AHD: As an Art House Dallas regular you're firmly planted in the local creative community. How has your time spent baking and bantering with likeminded artists refined you and your craft?

CY: As artists we share so many common struggles. I can't tell you how many times I have said "I know how you feel, I get it, and me too"! It is so encouraging to know you are NOT alone.  From my very first meeting at an Art House event, I knew there was something special about it.  I've met SUCH wonderful people from here and have resulted in some long-term partnerships.  Sean Carter and Kim Edwards are two of the most insanely talented people I've gotten to meet through Art House and they have such a heart for the community.  Learning to write with them and others is such an experience, and like the verse, "iron sharpens iron", collaborating with guys like this can only bring out the best in you.

AHD: You've said you write about love, life and relationships, and we can't help but notice that you share the stage with your husband Will. Does that make for a more intense or intimate experience when you two perform together?

CY: Okay, this question makes me smile. Will is my right arm. I literally could not do all I do with out him. That being said, he challenges me also. It gets intense for sure! We share music and a love for Disney World but other than that we approach life so differently! We "see" each other thoroughly, fully exposed -- he sees my weakness, and I his, when no one else does. It is both intimate and intense. We both admire each other's talents and gifts as well. Thank goodness we enjoy each other!

AHD: When can we check out your latest EP, find past releases or catch a live performance?

CY: Go to my website crystalyatesmusic.com. We keep the website updated very regularly as we book new shows. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter. I love staying connected with everyone that way!
We will release a new single "Goodbye Letter" mid-April, I cannot wait to share. And finally, there will be a watch party of the Texaco Country Showdown on April 13 at the MPAC (Downtown McKinney Square) at 6:30pm. It’s open to the public so we would love to see you there! We will get to share some of the new music we have been working on along with a Q&A. Be on the watch our upcoming EP that we plan to release in September produced by Charlie!

Keith Maitland & Susan Thomson | Tower Documentary




Director and Producer of the Emmy nominated THE EYES OF ME, which was broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens and was honored with a Barbara Jordan Media Award by the State of Texas. Keith is a graduate of the DGA Directors Program and the PBS Producers Academy. He is currently producing and directing the documentary TOWER that presents the untold stories of the witnesses, survivors and heroes of the Tower shootings.



Susan Thomson spent over 12 years as a media consultant, with roles in strategy, operations and distribution at Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Really Useful Group”, and the BBC.   Susan co-founded and co-produces FilmMatters, a dialogue that focuses on the use of film to encourage social change. Susan is currently producing two documentaries based in Austin, TX.



AHD: Please tell us about your latest documentary, Tower.

TOWER is a film about the heroes and survivors of the University of Texas Tower shooting in 1966.  There have been a lot of projects in the past that focused on the sniper that day and that's not the story we want to tell.  There's never been a feature film about the incredible civilians that rose to the challenge during the attack and our highest goal is to change the way people remember that day and shine a light on the strength and courage of so many brave Texans facing the unimaginable.

AHD: How did you two get started in film, and how did you end up collaborating on this project?

KM: Making movies is something I wanted to do since I was 12 - and I've just never wavered from that. I had a really positive experience on the set of Necessary Roughness in Denton when I was 15 and then went on to intern for MTV, the Muppets, and Richard Linklater in college.  I worked in narrative features in NYC after that. Susan has always been someone that I respect and enjoyed working with (we made a short film together in 2001) and so when it worked out that she was back here in Texas and she was doing great things with FilmMatters, I couldn't wait to ask her to partner up.

ST: I started on the studio side of the industry in Los Angeles and spent a lot of time learning about film distribution. I then lived in London for 4 years and gained experience in News creation at the BBC. When I moved back to Texas, I started a program called FilmMatters that explores how to make and distribute films that promote social change. Keith and I grew up together and he was one of my FilmMatters panelists. I was thrilled when he told me about TOWER and asked me to produce it with him.

AHD: Your documentary is based in part on 96 Minutes, the 2006 Texas Monthly article by Pamela Colloff. Obviously not all articles merit companion films. What was it about Pamela's piece that resonated with you?

ST: The article was so intensely visceral.  Reading it just totally pulled you into the characters'  point of view.  I'd never before imagined what that was like for the people on the ground and the references like, "I was walking past xyz building, on my way to class" just transported me to that time and place.   

KM: Pam gets this disparate group to relate the events of the day in a way that really highlighted the humanity of the event. It was the first time that I saw that day through the eyes of characters I could relate to and it brought the event to light. She accomplished what we've been striving to do.

AHD: You've talked about using your film to change the way people remember the nearly 50-year-old tragedy. Would you say this kind of art has a redeeming quality?

ST: Absolutely. One of the amazing things about this story is that we can see how people processed and integrated the experience over a lifetime.  The absence of bitterness from so many people is both surprising and encouraging because the suffering was just so enormous. It's powerful to see people focus on the vast number of good people who displayed such humanity vs. the one man who has always been the focus of the attack.

KM: The history, and the actual human faces of those affected by the shooting has gone largely untold.

AHD: After receiving some initial funds from PBS, you've launched an indiegogo.com campaign to raise funds for your next round of production. What has the crowd funding experience been like? What have you learned along the way?

ST: Well, many filmmakers forewarned us that these campaigns are a lot of work. They were right! That said, it's been a great experience. We got to meet with one of the top brass at Indiegogo during SXSW and he was incredibly helpful. Our biggest advice would be to really plan your campaign, have your house in order in terms of your contacts and ideally have at least one dedicated person to run your campaign and manage it across all of your social media platforms.

AHD: Luke Wilson was recently announced as the film's Executive Producer. What's it like to have someone of such name recognition join your team? How does Wilson's involvement benefit your project moving forward?

ST: It's great. When we heard that he was interested in the 96 Minutes article it was kind of extra validation that people in the big leagues saw what an amazing film this could be.  Plus, people in Texas really love all of the Wilson boys and it definitely seems to establish credibility with certain people to say that Luke is involved.

AHD: This spring you're again participating in a panel discussion at the Dallas International Film Festival. What do you plan to discuss during your talk? What do you most enjoy about the film festival circuit?

KM: We're talking about films for youth that impact change. I'm moderating because I'm in the middle of making a film that aims to do just that. As for TOWER, our hope is to show the courage and determination of the students on campus that day - in a film that's aimed at young audiences. There's also a mental health element - both from the snipers point of view and from the witnesses who dealt with issues on the mental health spectrum from ptsd to anxiety in the years after the shooting. This is what I love about going to film festivals - the conversations that emerge at panels, after screenings, at parties over cocktails ... I'm hoping our panel has a kind-of a cocktail party vibe.

AHD: How can we learn more about Tower, give funds for the next phase of production, check out some great perks, and stay in touch so we can take in the film as soon as it opens?

ST: What a great question! You can donate to our Indiegogo campaign http://igg.me/at/TOWER/x/6520958 - we are right in the middle of a push for funds to help us with a big shoot this summer and any contribution really makes a difference right now. Or you can email me directly at  susanthomson@TOWERdocumentary.com to discuss ways to get a tax deduction or for investment opportunities with TOWER.

Heather Bloem | Design Roots




Age: 34

Current Location: Frisco, TX

Favorite Dallas hangout: I love trying new restaurants with my husband when we get a date night! But on a regular day you can find me and our kids shopping at Trader Joes and Central Market.

Bio: Heather has always had a passion for color, texture, typefaces and calligraphy. She started her career in landscape architecture, but discovered a love for pen and ink. She pursued that passion, studied typography, and fell in love with all things paper. Design Roots is the product of her passion - check out her site and learn from her at Calligraphy for Beginners!

AHD: Congrats on the success of your calligraphy and design studio! How old is Design Roots and where'd the idea for the business come from?

HB: Design Roots was officially founded in November of 2008, though I started working on the details of it around June of the same year. I have a love for handwriting and design and my passion for color, texture, and typefaces is what inspires me. I began my career in landscape architecture, but found pen and ink always working its way into whatever I did. So, I pursued that passion, studied typography, and fell in love with all things paper. A genuine appreciation for the classic and timeless beauty of calligraphy inspired me to learn more. I've had the privilege of turning that passion into what is now Design Roots. I do it because I love it. I do it because it allows me to still be a mom and a wife. With the support of my husband and kids, I've been able to continue pushing forward, growing professionally, and share my passion with others. I often feel like design is something that is a part of who I am, deeply rooted within me. Hence Design Roots, which is also a nod to my background in landscape architecture and love of trees.

AHD: Whether it's a tiny straw flag or a huge chalkboard sign, personal attention to detail is a must for each of your projects. Why is it so important to customize something beautiful, no matter the size, for every patron?

I guess because of the unique variety of jobs my clients hire me for, I can say I'm constantly being challenged creatively. And the size of the projects keeps me motivated in what I do. I want the mom who orders birthday invitations to find just as much beauty in her cards as the groom who has me handwrite wedding vows. I want each piece that leaves my studio to be special and the only way to truly make that happen is to pour everything I have into each project no matter the size.


AHD: While you are more than capable to design digitally, you've fallen for and perfected ink on paper. Would you say your use of the timeless beauty of calligraphy is a kind of reaction to the electronic world we now inhabit?
HB: In a way, yes. I still create in the digital world. But the imperfections of the pen, the splatter of ink, the way it all comes together are a reflection of my mood, a reflection of my passion, and it brings a warmth to the end product – something that I think is missing in a lot of the mass-produced products we are surrounded by.

AHD: Besides creating custom works for your clients, you've spread the joy by teaching calligraphy and handwriting too. How do your new "seasonal workshops" go above and beyond your standard how-to classes?

HB: The seasonal workshops are another way for me to express my love, or rather obsession, for all things paper. It's a chance for me to flex my creative muscle, and to share and showcase how anyone, with a little effort and creativity, can put a personal touch on just about anything.


AHD: You're also leading a HANDMADE class for Art House next month. Can you share some details about the March 18th event?

HB: This event will be geared towards true beginners. I will teach the basic techniques for holding the pen, using the ink, and basic strokes. My goal for this HANDMADE is to get participants excited about calligraphy. Each person will leave with a pen holder, nib, pot of ink and my C is for Calligraphy book to take home and practice on their own. And since we’re partnering with Paper Source – they offered to not only let us know their space but also, discount items throughout the store the evening of the class.     

AHD: After discovering your passion for paper, you went and studied typography and calligraphy. How do you think creatives are rewarded when they push themselves to continuously cultivate their creativity?

HB: As an artist, I think you are constantly learning. You are either learning from yourself with practice, or you are growing from working with and watching other artists. Sometimes the biggest rewards for me are happy accidents. Those moments when I'm at my desk, doodling with my ink, and something comes from my pen that I've never done before. You can't think too much about it... you have to just do practice and do it.

AHD: Offering additional classes in 2014 is clearly a result of a strong response from the creative community around you. Why do you think Dallas is the type of town where a business like yours can be so successful?


 HB: I feel that despite the very fast paced life we live in Dallas, being surrounded by multi-billion dollar corporations, being caught up in the ever-changing technologies around us (my husband works in technology – I can't get away from it), that there's still a desire to keep in touch, or get BACK in touch, with something classic. People see the beauty in the hand-written touch, and want to learn more. There is usually one person in every class that tells me “you know, they don't even teach cursive anymore”.

AHD: Where can we go to learn more about Design Roots, sign up for classes and order our own custom calligraphy, stationery, stamps and signage?

HB: I've moved most everything over to my website – www.design-roots.net (ironically, technology has played a huge role in me being able to share what I love so much). I keep a blog with the happenings of Design Roots just like the one I am teaching for Art House, you can sign up for classes and order a variety of calligraphy products, and you can get in touch with me to help put that creative and classic touch on your project. You can also follow me on Instagram @artsybloem and on Facebook.

Rachel Nash | Rachel Nash Gallery




Age: 28

Favorite Dallas hangout: Legal Grounds for their Prom Cakes and Old Monk for their mussels.

Favorite Dallas music venue: The Granada

Bio: Rachel is a native of Oklahoma City and came to Dallas to study art, art history, and psychology at Southern Methodist University. It was then her dream to open an art gallery connected to an art therapy studio emerged. After graduating from SMU, Rachel moved to Chicago to advance her education and pursue a Master of Arts in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Rachel returned to Dallas in 2010 and began working as an art therapist at The Art Station, a non-profit art therapy clinic in Fort Worth.  During her three years at The Art Station, Rachel counseled adults and children in both group and individual settings, incorporating art making into the therapy to help people process through life's challenges along the way. During her time at the Art Station, Rachel attained her certifications as both a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Registered Art Therapist.

Rachel is now making her dream a reality. She will open Rachel Nash Gallery in Deep Ellum this coming February, and the gallery will have an art therapy studio in the back. The gallery is dedicated to making art accessible to everyone, both artist and collector. Rachel's goal is to provide a space for many artists to exhibit their work as well as to cultivate new collectors and draw attention to the arts in Dallas.

Rachel is also an artist, primarily an oil painter. She is fascinated by color and the beauty of creation in humankind and nature alike. Her paintings reflect this in her abstract and portrait work.

AHD: Next month years of dreaming and preparation culminate in the opening of your very own art gallery, but the Rachel Nash Gallery will be unlike any other in Dallas' Deep Ellum. What makes your gallery different?

RN: It’s a humbling and exciting experience to be at a place where I am able to pursue my dream. For years I dreamed of a gallery storefront with an art therapy studio in the back. That is definitely the most unique aspect to the gallery! I want to be able to use the gallery and the studio space for events and community gatherings as well.


AHD: Accessibility, both to the up-and-coming artist and the collector, is a goal of yours. Is this focus a response to something you see in the current gallery model or broader art scene that's not quite working?

RN: Yes and No. The idea definitely stemmed out of response to the currently gallery model--but not because it’s not working. I think it works great for many artists and collectors. However, I am targeting a different audience. I’m after young artists (young in their careers, not necessarily in age) who want the experience of showing in an art gallery setting but are not yet established in the “gallery scene.” I want to be one of the first galleries people show their art in, the stepping stone to help them further their careers. At the same time, I want to share art with people who do not frequent art galleries, hoping that one day, they feel comfortable enough to go into other galleries and buy more art!


AHD: The art therapy component of Rachel Nash Gallery is unique to say the least. What exactly is art therapy, how did you discover it, and why have you devoted your academic and professional life to making it happen?
It is definitely unique for this part of the country. Art therapy is a combination of art making and mental health counseling. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor as well as a Registered Art Therapist. In the state of Texas, you have to be both in order to practice art therapy.

RN: Art therapy is a great form of counseling. It is a creative process that taps into a different part of the brain where words cannot access. For children, words at times do not come easily, especially when there is a history of trauma. For adults, art therapy is much harder to over-intellectualize and manipulate, therefore it gives new insight to sought-after questions. There is something instinctual and healthy about making something with your hands--the process of creating, despite the outcome, is a huge part of art therapy. Art therapy has many different components, which makes it an interesting profession. It definitely keeps me on my toes! Art therapy can also be fun, making therapy enjoyable and productive at the same time. There is a huge need for it, especially in Dallas!

AHD: How did your time at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the preeminent professional art programs in the country, prepare you for work in this specialized setting?

RN: My graduate school experience was amazing. I studied under some truly great art therapists who have been on the forefront of the field of art therapy. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) not only provided an excellent base of professors, but it provided great field experience. And one of the most beneficial aspects of the program was their focus on the art therapist as “artist.” They encouraged us to explore materials, learn more about art, and pursue our own career as artists.


AHD: After coming from Oklahoma City, studying in Dallas and Chicago, and working across the metroplex in Ft. Worth, how did you settle on Deep Ellum as the place for your first gallery venture? What does your decision say about the creative community here?

RN: Deep Ellum has an amazingly close community, one of which I am just getting to know. Deep Ellum has always been a center for music, art, and culture and it’s also on the upswing right now. There are many people dedicated to making Deep Ellum a vibrant community again--with more art, more restaurants and more businesses in general. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the growing community!

AHD: In addition to being a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Art Therapist, you also find time to paint as well. How have your studies shaped your creative process?

RN: I have been encouraged my entire life to paint, initially by my Mom. I have discovered over time that painting is healing for me. It centers me and gives me an outlet to express myself. It helps me think and has become a “must” do for me to take care of myself. As a therapist, it is important to care for yourself so that you are able to better care for others. If my cup is not full, how can I pour anything out of it?

AHD: You're planning to feature some of your own work at the opening on February 8th. What can you tell us about the paintings you'll have exhibited?

RN: The current exhibit I am working on is titled Color | Gray. The paintings started as a series of complementary colors--going back to basic color theory. As I am in a transitional place in life, I felt like I need to go back to the foundation of what I love about art, which is color. Going back to the beginning has allowed me the space to practice theory instead of just read about it. The grays formed by mixing the complementary colors together + white. So the exhibit is a combination of colors and grays made from colors. It is ultimately a series of new discoveries.

AHD: Collectors, artists and the local creative community are sure to want to check out the new space. Where can they go to learn more about the gallery, its official opening, and about art therapy offerings in the near future?

    - The opening party on February 8th is open to all, so that is a good place to start! They can visit the website, www.rachelnashgallery.com, and sign up for the mailing list to hear about future gallery shows and other events.

    - My art therapy practice will also be taking root in February. For more information about it, visit www.rachelnasharttherapy.com. I will be seeing individual clients as well as holding group therapy sessions.

Ryan Wood | Founder, CedarWood Roasting Co.




Favorite Dallas hangout: Pretty much anywhere in Deep Ellum

Age: 38

Bio: I grew up all over the US, from Mid-West to Deep South to West Coast, but my high school years were in Portland, Oregon so I guess coffee culture has been ingrained in me. My degree is in Youth Psychology but my work experience has been as varied as my moves growing up. I have been in sales, the Mental Health field as well as the non-profit sector. I am a licensed social worker and an ordained Baptist minister. Beginning the journey as an entrepreneur has allowed me to marry my passion to serve people with the desire to provide stability for my wife and children.

AHD: What is micro-roasting, and how did you take it from a personal passion to a bourgeoning business?

RW: Micro-roasting just means that we roast in very small quantities per batch. We roast just 1 kg at a time while the average roster does closer to ten times that. This allows us to pay closer attention to the beans and get very consistent results.

I started roasting when I was having a hard time finding great coffee while working with rural communities in Appalachia. When we first moved to the Appalachian Mountains I could not find a decent cup of coffee. When I asked for a cup of decaf the local coffee shop answered, “We got water”. My family began ordering coffee by mail but shipping was cost prohibitive unless I bought in bulk. The bulk beans went bad before I had a chance to use them though. I found out that the shelf life of green beans was several months so I began experimenting with different roasting methods. I began roasting excellent coffee and, once word got out, friends and then friends-of-friends began stopping by to taste what the big deal was. Pounds of coffee went out as "Thank you's" and Christmas gifts. After moving my family to Dallas I lost my job and I had several people encourage me to start charging for my coffee. Last year I finally purchased a commercial roaster and began roasting 1 kg batches to sell.

 AHD: It's hard to imagine a big coffee chain roasting a custom bag of beans just for me. What kind of feedback do you get from folks when they experience your hyper-personal process for the first time?

RW: The personal touch is what sets CedarWood Roasting Co. apart and we have had nothing but enthusiasm from our customers thus far. Because we keep such copious roast notes and deal in such small batches we love personalizing the product. It has been so fun watching folks get creative with their coffee. One of my favorite stories was a customer naming the roasts after themes related to his long distance girlfriend. I guess it worked because they were married this summer.

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AHD: You've said your coffee is "as good for the conscience as it is for the taste buds." What does it mean to offer "ethically sourced beans" and why does that even matter?

RW: We will not buy a bean if we are not sure of its origin. I don’t mean only the country of origin but the farm and village of origin. This is important because many coffee farmers see pennies on the kilo for their hard work. They end up with a loosing year financially. Then they have to make a decision about how they are going to feed their family. This has far reaching effects in many areas. For example, the idea of making a crop financially viable in the Middle East has helped fight the spread of heroin. If families can provide for their families with a current legal crop, they are less tempted to grow illegal poppies for heroin. When we offer the farmer fair trade or better for all of the beans we roast they don’t have to focus as much on feeding their family, they can also spend more time and energy improving the coffee. 


AHD: What finally opened your eyes to the issue of fair trade?

RW: I had a friend that was a pastor and sold “fair trade” coffee after church. I wasn’t sure what that was so I asked. It was the 1990’s and fair trade was just gaining traction in our area. He explained the inequities of the coffee and tea industries. Social justice has always been a big motivator in my life and this was another way to make a difference.

AHD: Do you see other creatives in your community working to incorporate more socially responsible practices into their production? How important is it for a new venture to genuinely care about the common good?

RW: There are a few of us who really want to make a difference in our industry, and that number is growing. The trick is making socially responsible practices profitable. The only commodity traded in a larger volume than coffee is oil so it is a very competitive market that deals in pennies. Having said that, if a new venture doesn’t genuinely care about the common good, their longevity in any industry will be doubtful. We need each other and the ability to cultivate relationships locally and globally is directly related to success.

AHD: Like any art, education and appreciation must be important to crafting a great cup of coffee. As a self-described coffee nerd, do you still spend time with and enlighten the many coffee novices out there? 

RW: Absolutely! We have coffee tastings where we get out the SCAA coffee Tastes and Aromas wheel and challenge folks to tune into their taste buds and hone their palettes. One of my favorite moments in my job happens when an occasional coffee drinker attends a tasting and identifies notes beyond “it tastes like coffee” for the first time. One of our biggest supporters said she never knew coffee could taste “like this” until she tried our beans. Moments like these make all the sourcing, testing, and tinkering worth the effort. 


 AHD: Rumor has it that we'll someday soon be able to walk into a CedarWood Roasting Co. coffee shop. How do you plan to recreate the communal experience of micro-roasting in the new digs?

RW: We actually just secured a lease in Grand Prairie at the corner of 360 and Camp Wisdom. True to our philosophy, we are partnering with a new restaurant that brought in two top chefs from Morocco. It will be called The Olive Branch Express and CedarWood Roasting Co. We will have on-site roasting and all of our coffee and espresso based drinks will be made with beans that have been roasted that week. Tasting events will continue and, with all we have learned this past year, roasting custom beans for our customers is nearly as simple as pushing a button and waiting 20 minutes for a fresh batch of beans to be ready.

AHD: Coffee drinkers are pining for a fresh cup. Where can we go to learn more about CedarWood Roasting Co. and order a few tailor-made bags?

RW: You can order from our website at www.cedarwoodroasting.com or just call me. Our Facebook page is a great way to find out about our current offerings and events. Since we pride ourselves on a personal touch, my favorite is a phone call followed by a tasting. I want every customer to have an amazing experience. Satisfied customers are our best marketing.

Tiffany McAnarney | Artist & Facility Manager at WELD



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Favorite Dallas hangout: Davis Street Espresso

Age: 25

Bio: Tiffany McAnarney isn’t only a person with a hard-to-pronounce last name (mack-an-arn-ee), she’s a craftsman of — and a person forever dedicated to — watercolor painting, pour-over coffee, and meaningful friendships. Although she hails from Middle-of-Nowhere, Oklahoma (not an exaggeration), she currently lives (and loves) her life in Oak Cliff. Or, for some, the portion of town known as the part of Dallas that isn't like the rest of Dallas.

AHD: Some folks discover their passion late in life. You were practically born doodling. Tell us about your artistic beginnings, and how they led you to earn a BFA in Studio Art and land a position at WELD.

TM: I always had an incredible passion for art, but was definitely not born with the skills to be an artist. Art teachers always tried to push me to be a photographer because I had a good eye for composition and color, but no follow-through with my hands on paper. When I got to college, I was addicted to drawing classes and working in coffee shops. When a professor asked me why someone, like me, without any clear talent would choose Studio Art as their major, I told him that I deeply believed that if you have enough passion for something, then learning how to master it would simply be a technicality.

After I graduated, I moved down to Dallas (where I knew only my aunt) and started working in coffee shops. I quickly made my rounds through that circuit, and met an incredible amount of talented folks.

When WELD was in its infancy, I was introduced to Austin Mann (the founder), to help establish a coffee program. We quickly became friends, and within weeks I was helping him launch the space.

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 AHD: In your series Life Beyond Site you juxtapose photorealistic drawing with realms and dimensions beyond mere physicality. What is it about those other worlds that attracts you?

TM: My grandfather was a physicist, and so I was always obsessed with Quantum Mechanics, which to me feels like the scientific explanation of a spiritual realm. It comes down to the belief that life is more than what can be seen with our eyes, or felt on our skin. It’s possible to exist in more than one reality at the same time, and that our lives resonate further than the years written in our wrinkles.

AHD: You're working on a new series of paintings with brilliant, kinetic colors, but you also capture life's truths through black ink and paper via doodling. How are the two mediums different, and why does each resonate so well with you?

TM: They are more acts of compulsion rather than well-calculated artist endeavors. If I’m not being commissioned, critiqued, or bought, it is easier to create work that reflects who I truly am as a person. Not as an artist, an idealist, or a creator; but as a deeply flawed human being just trying to thrive. It’s been an important practice as I move onward in my profession. 

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 AHD: You refer to your position at WELD as "professional friend". What is a facilities manager, and what do you do when you're not repainting the cyclorama for the 81st time?

TM: It’s interesting to try to explain to people what I do day-to-day at WELD, or even what WELD is in general. It’s so much more than just a workspace, and I do much more than hang out with people. Basically, we are trying to create a culture of community, and I personally do whatever is necessary to accomplish that. From emailing, to pouring double chemex, helping prep for productions, connecting members to each other and to job opportunities, all the way to restocking the fridge or sitting in on test shoots.

AHD: Working from home sounds like fun, but WELDers experience the many benefits of creative co-working (not to mention free coffee and beer). How do you go about creating the sense of community your members seek, and how do you try to inspire them?

TM: We try to create a space that evens the playing field. No matter where you are in your professional walk, there is always someone you can learn from, someone you can give advice to, or just a new friend to go to lunch with. By providing space with great amenities, it’s difficult to walk into WELD without feeling inspired. If anything, I talk members through their piles of ideas, and try to help them rationalize which ones to breathe life into.

AHD: Through your own studio work, your time at WELD, your Life in Deep Ellum sightings and more, you're as plugged in to the local creative community as anyone. What do you see happening with Dallas creative folk that others might miss, and how can AHD help to strengthen that community for the common good?

TM: I don’t know about you, but it seems like Dallas has been on the up and up for the past two years. It’s such an amazing place to be right now. Almost as if we are living in a time people will reflect back on and say, “what a time to have lived in Dallas.”

I think the best thing we can all do moving forward is to continue to break down the barriers of this idea of competition. I know I feel it so often as an artist…that I’m not as talented as someone else, and my skills are not up to par...but isn’t that the beauty of community? No two people are ever exactly the same. My hope is that we continue to strive towards being unique, while maintaining camaraderie.

AHD: When might we find an original song to accompany the existing awesomeness on your website?

TM: Haha. I’m not sure I will ever post any songs. There are quite a few areas in life where I have learned to be vulnerable, but I have not yet reached that level of insanity. For now, I will reserve my silly little love songs for quiet evenings with friends.

AHD: What's next on your calendar? Where can we go learn more about your work and musings? And how can we apply to join the WELD creative community?

TM: We are hosting our annual WELD Show on December 13th, which consists of the cream of the crop work by WELDERs in 2013. It’s currently being curated by an editor at National Geographic, so you’ll just have to stop by the show to see if any of my work made it in!

Since we try not to pack people in like sardines, we do have a curation process with membership. We are not always able to take on new members, but we are always open to expanding our community. Stay connected with Creative Labs, Events, meet ups, and happy hours by checking out our website (weld.co) and Facebook page

When I come up for air, I’m fairly active on both my blog and instagram.

Nicole Morrow | Abstract & Portrait Artist



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Hometown: Garland, Texas

Favorite Dallas spot: Bar Belmont or Ascension Coffee

Age: 29

Bio: Nicole Morrow is an abstract & portrait artist based in Dallas, Texas. Her gestural pieces have been described by critics as ethereal and mysterious. Nicole works primarily with acrylic paint, but also employs the use of thread, veneer, wax and lacquers to achieve the desired look. Her work can be found at Curated as well as the NYLO hotels and the June 2008 issue of TIME magazine. Ms. Morrow studied under the direction of Dr. Joseph Pomara and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Texas - Dallas. When Nicole isn't painting she is usually contributing to the Dallas Art community through various creative projects or conducting private art lessons with her young students.

How did you get your start creating "ethereal and mysterious" abstract paintings and portraits in the Dallas area?

I've always been creative. Even from a young age I knew I wasn't wired like the traditional kid, haha. I didn't just have an imagination; I had a gearbox that crunched up what I saw in the world and rearranged it to be something entirely different and estranged from its context. I was a lofty kid, always stuck somewhere between reality and memory, and depicting the "in-between" where I often live has been my life's pursuit. You've said your goal is to capture those "fleeting memories that make our hearts beat a little faster, ache a little more."

Does the use of abstraction help you to convey "memories, emotions and the vaporous space in between" in your paintings?

Abstraction is the only vehicle I've found that effectively conveys emotion, something that has no shape or form, so, yeah, I think that's true.

Studying under artist John Pomara proved a formative experience for you. What insights did you gain from that teacher/student relationship?

Dr. Pomara taught me how to release my doubts when painting while maintaining discipline and without losing my natural aesthetic. I think anyone can pick up a brush and paint, but it's hearing yourself and knowing when to act and when to refrain that can take years to master. I still haven't done that. I still create terrible, awful work, but when I do I know it's because I'm rushing it or I'm not 100% invested. John taught me that good work only happens when good investment happens. For me, this usually means a lot of time alone in my studio with my thoughts (and my dog). It can be daunting, it can be scary, but mostly, it's cathartic.

AHD: You've said you want people to understand you don't have to be refined to be good. What do you mean?

NM: Honestly, and I know this will rub some people the wrong way, refined art often tends to look overworked, overthought, and overvalued by appraisers. By refined I mean meticulous attention to detail, perfectly straight lines and tired subject matter. While that technique does provide some monetary success, I believe it's the raw brushstroke and the relationship of brush and hand that really provides the emotional satisfaction a true artist seeks.

AHD: For three years you've donated work to Summer Colors, the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children's annual silent auction and fundraiser. Why is this cause important to you?

NM: Scottish Rite is important to me for many reasons, but mainly I believe in the well-being of our future generation. Scottish Rite does an amazing job of empowering these kids to love themselves even with their differences.

AHD: Do you think every artist should have such a cause? Why?

NM: We all have a unique gift, whatever it might be, and I feel that we should use our talents to benefit others, but I don't think you have to support a cause to be a blessing to another individual. Though based in Dallas, you can deliver a commissioned piece around the world.


AHD: What's it like having a physical artist community around you, and a virtual one waiting just a few clicks away? How do they differ?

NM: Having a physical artist community around me provides me with so much support and encouragement, especially when I'm feeling bogged down. I love that feeling of community and sharing. On the other hand, with the advent of the internet it's easy to make connections with people around the globe. Having these friends helps to keep me in the know, and on the pulse of what's emerging artistically around the world. The friends I've made in Dallas, and the friends I've made around the world all help shape my work through osmosis, observation and discussion.

AHD: In addition to studying and now professionally producing art, you teach others to do the same. How did you stumble upon teaching, and how do you help others tell their story through artistic expression?

NM: I stumbled into tutoring when my good friend Blake recommended me to his client. His client was looking for an after-school art tutor for her daughter and, just like that, I became a teacher! When I see my student, we work together to create art that is meaningful for her. Thankfully, she's a talkative girl - so just listening to her stories gives me a feel for the type of project to prepare for her. After that it's really just letting her natural skills shine with direction and suggestion from me. There's really no greater feeling than seeing the look of pride and accomplishment on her face when she's created something she's proud of.


AHD: What are you working on this fall, and where can we go to see, purchase, and commission your work?

NM: This fall is filling up pretty quickly with new projects. I have just been signed to a new gallery that's opening on Dragon street, Caldwell Arte Exposicion. You can purchase my work at the Art House Dallas Anniversary Party on October 17th, visit Caldwell Arte Exposition , or Curated on Knox-Henderson. Additionally, I accept commissions year-round. For more information on that or my work you can visit yaynicole.com

Gary Humble | Founder, Grapevine Craft Brewery




Hometown: Abbeville, Louisiana

Current City: Grapevine, Texas

Bio: Gary's fusion of passion and experience in leadership and development has now led to the birth of Grapevine Craft Brewery. The desire to start a brewery begins with great beer, but for Gary it doesn't stop there. With a background in working in the church/non-profit environment, Gary is passionate about making a difference in his community and creatively leveraging the success of GCB to impact North Texas. As you would have it, the dream of GCB all started in a garage on a Saturday afternoon homebrewing a batch of beer. And with a passion for craft beer and a love of the Grapevine community, Grapevine Craft Brewery just made sense. Gary's experience in brand management, team development and fundraising gave him the tools needed to turn this dream into a reality. Tell us about your latest brainchild, Grapevine Craft Brewery.

It’s about beer. It’s about community. It’s about mission. I wanted to do something that would engage enthusiasts, but also engage people that live in our surrounding areas. There’s no doubt that right now in North Texas it is a great time for craft beer. And having yet another local option is not a bad thing. But I believe that Grapevine is unique and I’m just as excited about building the brand as I am putting out great beer. It was also equally important to put something forward that would give people an opportunity to be part of a mission. Marry drinking great beer together with giving back to your community in a meaningful way….that’s a hard combination to beat.

AHD: What helped you to go from craft-beer enthusiast to founder and CEO of a craft-beer startup?

GH: Truthfully, people that believed in what I was doing and could write a check to back it up. Not only was I able to raise the cash necessary to start the business through investment, but people in the community also stepped up in a big way. We had an audacious goal to raise $50,000 online and ended up raising over $61,000. GCB is only the second brewery to top $60K in crowdfunding. Beyond that, two local banks, Northstar Bank of Texas and Bank of the West in Grapevine have both stepped up to help finance our business and the construction of our new brewery one block off of Main Street in Grapevine. For a startup….that’s unheard of.

AHD: The South has been called the last craft-beer frontier. How did you choose historic downtown Grapevine, Texas as home to the next great local craft brewery?

GH: It just makes sense. Grapevine is a North Texas destination for both locals and out of town guests. Also, DFW Airport is located in Grapevine. It’s a hub for travelers and an easy place to connect with family, business partners or hanging out with friends. And while Grapevine has one of the most vibrant Main Streets in North Texas (and perhaps the US), it continues to grow in commerce and boasts a wealth of opportunity for big and small businesses. Not to mention, Grapevine has the most wineries per capita in the state of Texas. Local craft beer belongs here.

AHD: Grapevine Craft Brewery's philosophy starts and ends with community. What do you mean when you say "beer is an expression of community?"

GH: Beer was always local. Literally as local as the street corner. Before pasteurization, beer would spoil in a little over a day. It could not travel. So, your beer was brewed just around the corner. And if you wanted another beer, then you had to travel to the next local brewery. People took pride in their local brew and it was a part of what made their community their own. Today, everything spreads far and wide and most products are made for mass markets with no local identity. It’s not hard to see that people today crave something local, not just beer, but in everything we use and consume. It’s a great thing to get to know the brewer who made the beer you’re drinking and that he or she cares about a lot of same things you care about. That’s community.

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AHD: GCB boasts four initial offerings: Lakefire, an American rye pale ale, Monarch a classic American wheat, Sir Williams, a traditional English style brown, and Nightwatch, a classic sweet stout. Can you explain how each of your brews has a local tie-in? And of course, which is your favorite?

GH: Every summer, we celebrate Friday nights with fireworks over Lake Grapevine.  So, the Lakefire was born.  In early Spring, Grapevine, Texas is in the migratory path of the monarch butterfly.  And that’s perfect timing for the crisp and refreshing Monarch Wheat.  Our mayor, William D. Tate has been the mayor of Grapevine for almost 40 years.  It’s about time the guy had his own beer, the Sir Williams English Brown Ale.  And last but not least, Grapevine history reveals that there was a nightwatchman that would walk the length of Main Street to make sure that everything was safe and locked up in the evenings.  He was faithful, dependable and reliable and is now enshrined atop our city hall building.  We remember those long nights with the Nightwatch Dry Oatmeal Stout.

AHD: Your startup was successfully crowd funded through Fundable.com. What made your campaign successful, and what do you recommend to other adventurous entrepreneurs eager to try the same model?

GH: Have a story.  Story and mission are so important even for a successful business.  I see people miss it all the time.  Especially if you’re going to ask for someone’s support, you have to give them a better reason than your product alone, no matter how great it is.

AHD: How do you balance life as a busy entrepreneur, a wife and two young kids? What intentional steps have you taken to ensure that quality and time still exists at home and with family?

GH: I have to be the master of my schedule and I have to be an expert at saying no.  To be honest, this balance is extremely difficult. We are in the thick of it.  With me starting a business and my wife looking after a 2 year old and a 6 month old, time for us is hard to come by.  Especially since we have no family in North Texas.  We have to keep telling ourselves, "it gets better."

But, baby steps, right?  This past weekend, we successfully went out to dinner as a family.  The kids went to bed perfectly and my wife and I were able to watch a movie together on the couch.  And the next morning I was able to watch the kids while Andrea went out for a latte' and a massage.  So, there are moments of sanity….dare I say, calm.  The bottom line is that every moment counts, even if it's just 10 minutes.  Opening a brewery, there will be plenty of opportunity for me to be busy at evening events, Saturday tours and the like.  But I try pretty hard at leaving nights open for my kids and weekends for the family.  For something work related, it has to be extraordinarily important for me to give up an evening with my boys.  Basically, I get 5pm to 8pm with them and that time is sacred.  I've had to practice putting off the late meetings and things that can't wait at least until after I help put my boys to bed.

These are just some of the practical things.  But at a 30,000 foot level, you simply have to determine what is most important.  Business will never be my master.  It will always serve my family.


AHD: You plan to return proceeds to your community each quarter. Why is it important to give back, and what do you think would happen if other artisans followed suit?

GH: It’s critical.  Let’s face it, who else is buying my beer, helping me to build a successful business and take care of my family?  It’s the community.  And I feel an obligation to give back and take care of my own.  If we all had the mindset to look outside of ourselves and help those around us, we’d all be better off, no doubt.  My hope is that we make enough of a difference that others would follow suit.  It’s worth it.

AHD: How can we keep up to date with happenings and taste your brews as they come available on tap this fall?

GH: Keep up to speed with us at www.grapevineontap.com, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and buy a ticket for the Art House Anniversary Party– we will be providing all of the beer for the evening!

Erika Huddleston | Visual Artist

Erika Huddleston | Visual Artist



Website: www.erikahuddleston.com

Bio: Erika Huddleston is a Texas painter who studies urban parks and their relationship to the citydweller. She works entirely outdoors, sitting on the ground with her canvas for full days from 9:00 am to dusk. First, she walks the site for several days or weeks without any preparatory sketches. Then she chooses her subject and begins painting in oil after making an underdrawing in pencil. Erika has a BA in Fine Arts and went to Parsons School of Design for Interior Decoration, and has a Masters in Landscape Architecture. She works in Dallas and Austin, and currently is doing a series on the Trinity River near Corinth Street Bridge in Dallas. 

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Favorite Dallas hangout: the Santa Fe Trail in Lakewood

AHD: You've modestly referred to yourself as a landscape architect who paints, but your work teems with the thought and precision of an experienced artist. How long have you painted nature in urban settings?

EH: The series of "Landscape Recordings" began three years ago and continues now with my new work on the Trinity River in Dallas. I was in graduate school for landscape architecture and was tired of mapping aerially many of our sites that we were designing. I asked to do a research project on painting onsite rather than using maps as a way to gather information. 

Shoal Creek Greenbelt in Austin (I was at UT) was my first chosen site to document. After spending 500 hours sitting outdoors, my ideas about the site totally changed. I don't think everything can be understood from a nuts and bolts "model" driven approach to a landscape-or even as an approach to a person. I continue to refine and challenge my own ideas on this subject through this work at my second location at the Trinity River in Dallas. I hope to write a series of articles on the resulting research after this work.

AHD: Where did you acquire your appreciation for inner city green spaces?

EH: Living in New York City! I lived in Dallas and then Nashville so moving to New York was a huge transition as far as not being in a quasi-suburban setting. It was like moving to "Sesame Street" which was set in the Bronx! I read Jane Jacobs' "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" which discusses urban planning strategies such as the life of the sidewalk and the importance of living in a walkable community such as Jacobs' own neighborhood, Greenwich Village. I loved community gardens as I walked by them and I volunteered very early on for the High Line-for three years. 

I felt the calling to devote my life to understanding and advocating for thoughtful connections to nature in cities. I would pass community gardens and stand against the metal bar fencing and look in and be nourished for two minutes seeing green-then move on down the sidewalk. Eventually, I lived in New York City for 6 years and the importance of the green in Central Park and other tiny "pocket parks" made me want to design landscape. I've always worked in design and was at the time working in textile and interior design, designing interiors, yet I decided to move to city design and landscape design. I have an art background and merged the two with the paintings of landscapes.

AHD: How has the study of fine and decorative arts, as well as landscape architecture given you a unique perspective not only on painting and urban planning, but life itself?

EH: Life is long and hard. Until after college, when the predestined parts of "life" end, there is a forward momentum, but then after graduation one's "work" becomes a 9-5 job instead of school hours. I find that adult life is enhanced by surprises and variety. I find a real surprise and variety, and therefore solace in ungroomed nature. However, in the city, residents can leave on the weekends, but wouldn't it be wonderful to go to a city park and be able to walk and explore within a wilderness area that wasn't lawn and organized trees. Cities are built in the wilderness and the remnant of that landscape is important to recollect and be able to engage within.

Art is about exploration and unknown potentials. I am okay with the open ended, unpredictability of art-through schooling in college-so I think that comfort with exploration and precipices and curiosity without worry informs my perspective on what I seek to find in an urban park. A background in art is more playful in a way than a background in architecture or landscape architecture, which has all the legal liabilities at stake like someone tripping on a path or a structure collapsing. Art as my background allowed a "lightness" and freedom to pervade my later work in landscape architecture. 

After all, good design emerges from ideas about life. We can't let the harshness of a broken world eliminate all lavish joy from our city parks. I see more and more that our world was meant for that magnificent rejoicing and I think that we regain that in moments through art and design which are called to reflect that.

AHD: This month you're participating in Summer Colors, an art show and silent auction benefiting Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Why is the cause important to you, and why do you think artists should lend their time and talents for the common good?

EH: A friend has worked for Scottish Rite for almost 10 years and I respect her work and her mission. The Hospital has served Dallas unceasingly for so many years so the cause is important to me. I drive by Scottish Rite on Oak Lawn often and appreciate that the people there serve our city. Artists like any other profession are called to contribute directly to the common pot of giving.

AHD: Your process and products are statements about the passage of time. Why it is important for us to slow down and reconnect with nature, and how can the creative community help make certain we do?

EH: The passage of time is almost an oxymoron in perception now that smartphones have allowed real time communication. Although time passes as it always has, I don't feel the passing of time. I don't have to wait as much as I used to in moments. Yet, in larger life issues, I often must wait or have patience to understand or feel or process what is happening. If we can walk into a park that we go to often and witness the changing of seasons, the changing of a leaf's color, the moving of a creek's water, the rustling of a forest of trees planted 50 years ago, then we can connect to the larger timescale of life beyond realtime.

The creative community produces work that moves us beyond realtime. Madeleine L'Engle wrote in "Walking on Water" that there are two types of time: "Kairos" time and "chronos" time. Kairos time occurs when a good dinner party with friends feels like it lasts for hours but was only one hour. Chronos time is the tic-toc of chronological time with all of our standards and procedures ticking onward. We need both, but I feel that the world is more data-driven than ever and that the calling of urban parks today is to provide a place to experience kairos time. Music, literature, and all creative expressions can create a place to experience kairos time as well. Kairos time points to God's spirit that is beyond time.

AHD: An Austin arts and culture magazine reported you spent over 500 hours in one park working on a recent series. Do you feel like that kind of dedication and focus is perhaps lacking in the contemporary art scene?

EH: Well, the contemporary art scene often explores perceptual concepts of time and space so quantifying the time is not unusual. That amount of time is my own process and the only reason to examine an artist's process is because we are used to doing that as we examine our own lives, our friends' lives on Facebook, and we value our emotions as a society in America. I would even say we overly elevate the importance of our own perceptions. The contemporary art scene examines many of these ideas in concept. I don't think in practice that dedication and focus is lacking in contemporary art; artists work to make their art and that work is breathless no matter how long or short.

AHD: For creatives out there who haven't yet discovered a subject that evokes such passion, how do you suggest they find a setting that moves them?

EH: I suggest that one starts reading widely. For me, I am inspired by reading the newspapers. Once an idea then occurs to me after reading lots of newspapers discussing current events, I then produce my work. I would recommend to then try many different media, one at a time, until one seems to hit something special. There is something about the physical process that helps me understand what I was thinking theoretically. 

AHD: How can we learn more about you and your work, and check out a painting or print in person?

EH: My show at Shannon Bowers art space on Dragon St. is up in September with the opening on September 12. There will be the new series of work on the Trinity River hanging. There is a street fair with DADA on Dragon St. shortly thereafter and the work will be up then, too! Check out my work on my website as well: http://erikahuddleston.com/


Maxine Owens | The Southern Table

Maxine Owens | The Southern Table



Bio: Born in Mexico and raised as a hometown Dallas girl, Maxine began her design career in the retail world of visual merchandising. With stints at Anthropologie, Barneys New York, and Crate & Barrel, she honed her design eye in both fashion and interiors. With this background, she transitioned to the floral and wedding scene here in Dallas. The Southern Table allows her to combine and express her talents and creativity with her own unique vision.

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Favorite Dallas hangout: Sundown at Granada or Bolsa

AHD: Will you tell us all about your creative startup The Southern Table, including where the name came from?

MO: The Southern Table is a creative studio specializing in design for weddings, soirees, interiors and holidays. Our designs display an organic style with movement and texture, combining both vintage and modern sensibilities. Momentous occasions need to be celebrated with style!

The name comes from our goal to encompass all that it means to be Southern. We are social and hospitable, welcoming and sincere. We are comfortable, yet elegant, truly connected to where we come from and our history. The Southern Table concept inspires a sense of rustic nostalgia that is sophisticated yet remains grounded in clean and versatile design elements. Whether with floral, calligraphy, or general design, this moniker captures a feeling of wistful elegance balanced with fresh simplicity.


AHD: How long have you created custom floral arrangements, and how did you get your start?

MO: I first got inspired with floral arranging when planning my wedding in 2009. Design interested me, and I took a few classes around Dallas and Fort Worth that continued to pique my interest in all things floral. I was hooked and wanted to learn more! From there I freelanced a bit, worked as an intern with both Todd Events and Bows and Arrows here in Dallas, where I eventually became Studio Manager.  

AHD: Why do flowers inspire you?

MO: Sometimes it still amazes me how such beauty and perfection is created in nature. Flowers evoke feeling, communicate the beauty of the world, and to me are very calming. I love discovering new combinations and looks, as well as learning about new varieties of plants and flowers.  

AHD: Where a sculpture or painting may last hundreds of years, your medium can wilt within days. What's it like creating on the clock, knowing your work will have a short, albeit beautiful life?

MO: Creating on the clock is fun, stressful, and exciting all at the same time. It forces you to work quickly and be adaptable. Usually, I envision the design in my head before I start, but sometimes the design changes as you see how it develops. There’s definitely a bittersweet feeling knowing you’ve created something with a short lifespan. The beauty, though, is that appreciating the design forces you to be in the moment, to be present and enjoy and take in what’s in front of you, before that moment is gone.


AHD: What do you think the perfect arrangement adds to an already special event? What is your favorite type of occasion to cater to?

MO: Well, obviously, I love weddings! There’s just so much joy, emotion, and positive energy! Weddings celebrate life and love and bring people together for a meaningful occasion. The perfect arrangement adds texture and one more layer to an already beautiful setting, and sets the tone for the whole experience. I love color in floral. Mixing floral with unexpected elements creates beauty and awe. Flowers reflect the beauty that is already around them.

AHD: This month you're leading a Handmade on floral arrangements. How excited are you to lend your services to the creative community, and what do you hope attendees take away from your time together?

MO: I am beyond excited to be partnering with Art House Dallas! I’ve been blessed to learn from some extremely talented designers, and I hope I can pass a bit of that knowledge on to others. Design of any kind is a very personal thing. No one “eye” is the same. I’m hoping attendees will learn basic theory and techniques, but then incorporate and develop their own design aesthetic and create styles with a personal flair. I think there is a designer in everyone!

AHD: Weddings, showers and dinner parties are notoriously flowery. What are some times we don't necessarily think of where it's still okay to get floral?

MO: Any time is a great time to get floral! I think just keeping fresh floral around the house is a great place to start. Small arrangements or even simple bud vases can bring a space to life. Central Market is a great place to pick up a few blooms to arrange on your own. Take a nod from your surroundings and incorporate items growing in your own backyard.


AHD: How can we take in more of your designs, keep up with you and your creative startup, and reserve a space at your upcoming Handmade?

MO: First, come join my class with Art House Dallas on August 22nd! Purchase tickets for the class at www.arthousedallas.com, under Current Events. You will learn how to create a beautiful arrangement that you can take home or give to someone special!  

I am currently working on collaborations and photo shoots with other vendors in Dallas. To follow my work visit The Southern Table at www.southerntabledesign.com, on Facebook, and on Instagram at the_southerntable. Most recently, my work can be seen featured with the new line of gorgeous vintage-inspired gowns and accessories by Winifred Bean at www.winifredbean.com! Find me and get inspired!