I love this time of year, especially since it's finally cold here in Dallas and feels like Christmastime. Here at the Art House, we kicked off the season with our annual Stories and Songs December concert on Saturday night featuring Derek Webb. Our guests for the sold-out show packed into the Munger Place coffee lounge where they were surrounded by beautiful Christmas decor, holiday music and warm drinks in hand. Derek took requests from the audience, shared the stories behind each song, and even played a few songs from his earlier days in Caedmon's Call. It was a special evening for me not only because I have been listening to his music for so long, but also because Derek has a long history of involvement with Charlie and Andi at Art House America. It was a little bit of a full circle moment: I remember sitting next to Derek the first time I ever visited Art House in Nashville at an artists retreat 3 years ago. Little did I know then that, three years later, we would have an Art House in Dallas and Derek sharing about the role that Art House America has played over the years in his life as well as in the life of his wife, Sandra McCracken.
I had a similar moment last Tuesday when we hosted Jeremy Cowart, who was also present at this same artists retreat in Nashville three years ago. In the time since I had first met Jeremy at this retreat, he has had amazing opportunities to photograph everything from top celebrities to Africans receiving clean water for the first time. He spent time in Haiti creating portraits of hope and also created a non-profit called Help-Portrait, a worldwide movement of local photographers taking portraits of those less fortunate and instilling dignity and hope to individuals and families. Last year, the Dallas location of Help-Portrait was the largest in the world. We hope that this year will be no different, and Art House Dallas is pleased to once again be supporting this incredible opportunity to have photographers, make up artists and anyone with a heart to volunteer to give their time on December 10th for Help-Portrait 2011.
One of the great joys working for Art House Dallas is exposing our creative community to folks like Jeremy who serves as an incredible example of someone using their creativity for the common good. It was a treat to have him share the stories of how he is using his talents in Africa, Haiti, New York and Los Angeles with almost 50 Dallas photographers who gathered at Reel F/X Studio for our fourth Dinner with Friends this year. We also loved having Dallas native and phenomenal photographer, Esther Havens with us at Dinner. Esther not only served as our host for the evening, but also as another great example of someone using their talents to tell good stories. While interviewing Jeremy, she shared how her experience taking pictures in 45 different countries for organizations like TOMS, Warby Parker, and Hello Somebody have shaped the way she uses her gift of photography.
It's so easy during this time of year to focus on the gifts we'll receive, but hearing Jeremy, Esther and Derek over the last week were welcome reminders that God has given each one of us creative talents to offer as gifts to one another. Whether it's the gift of creating an incredible meal for friends and family, decorating a home full of comfort and joy, singing Carols or writing Christmas cards, there are a million ways to give. I hope that you can find a couple ways to use your creativity to love the people around you and more importantly, be reminded of the incredible gift we were given more than 2000 years ago in the form of a child born in Bethlehem. A gift that would change everything for us.
Blessings to you and yours this holiday Season.
Shot and edited by Dexter Evans, Music by Derek Webb
All photos courtesy of Matt Knisely except where noted.