A Reflection on Art House Dallas' Five-Year Anniversary Celebration
By Julia Powers
Imagine writers admiring paintings.
Nurses taking to the stage to show their singer-songwriter sides.
Dallasites standing together to sing a sweet, surprising "Stand By Me."
After the five-year anniversary celebration of Art House Dallas, none of this is different to imagine.
On that rainy October night, a grant writer and a graphic designer literally stood by me. For me and countless others in the Dallas arts community, the evening brought to life the mission of Art House Dallas: cultivating creativity for the common good.
The anniversary event crafted a creative environment from start to finish, welcoming artists, amateurs and arts advocates of all genres. When I walked in to the Life in Deep Ellum Cultural Center, the leader of my Art House Dallas writers group greeted me, then pointed out the paintings on the wall (prepared by an Art House Dallas artists!) and introduced me to a novelist.
These are my people, I immediately thought, as I do so often at Art House Dallas events.
And trust me, for someone confined to a computer almost all day, having people is a priceless gift. At a practical level, the people of Art House Dallas provide professional support by answering my questions about how to publish or freelance. At an emotional and spiritual level, these people provide moral support, walking with me through old dreams and new projects, rough drafts and polished pieces.
After some laughter and lemon bars in the lobby, I was ushered in to the concert space. Snagging seats in the back with some creative colleagues, I couldn't help but sit back and feel privileged. In that moment, we were privy to a brief talk and performance by Art House America founder Charlie Peacock, followed by a performance "in the round" from Nashville musicians Brooke Waggoner, Andrew Ripp, and Matt Wertz.
For the Common Good
This was no ordinary concert. When I later tried to convey to friends the unique nature of the Art House Dallas event, one friend said, "I've been to plenty of concerts. What was so special about this one?"
I fell silent, then I said, "It had purpose." It was art for art's sake, yes, but also for the sake of the community, for the sake of a city even.
The musicians sat comfortably on their stools, taking turns and laughing with—and at—one another. They shared the stories behind their songs, and Andrew Ripp told of sharing his songs with Young Life campers, made possible through financial backing from Art House Dallas. They invited audience participation. They made the venue feel like a living room.
And maybe that's what the city of Dallas needs: more living rooms. And not the stuffy kind at Grandma's house, but rather the kind Art House Dallas provides that encourages real, full living—the kind that compels people from all professions and parts of the city to come together for drinks and desserts, stories and songs, to recognize the beauty that (thought we oft forget) is around us and in us
The kind that cultivates creativity for the common good.
Julia Powers is a writer and proud member of an Art House Dallas writers group. You can find her online at www.juliapowersblog.com