It’s obvious of course that a house is a building structure, and a kitchen is typically part of a house. Gary’s ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen is so much more than simply a combination of those words, and while the finished work is now a place for artists and the community to gather in a warm and engaging environment, the behind the scenes labor that went into creating this space should not be taken for granted.
ArtHouse, located at 411 E. 5th Avenue in Gary, started as an idea, to create a space that would eventually house the recipe by which art will be embraced, appreciated and nurtured, much like food from your own kitchen. Careful planning went into the building and logistics of ArtHouse, details that the average person doesn’t think about. From the hard work of carefully selected Gary residents, who were handpicked in part because of their dedication to helping rebuild the Gary community, ArtHouse became a reality.
It’s been said that “it’s the little things that count.” Ask Kitty Aleman, who has been responsible, as part of a team, for cleaning the chairs and keeping the seat covers looking nice. Kitty joined the ArtHouse project via the recommendation of another member of the community.
Grisela Estrella, who owns a hot dog stand in Griffith, is putting her sewing skills to use to help support the ArtHouse initiatives. Grisela handles reupholstering of the furniture at ArtHouse and mentioned that she “visualizes ArtHouse as a place to feel safe, interact and socialize” and believes that it will revitalize the community.
ArtHouse is also inspiring families to work together. Janet Plant, along with two of her children, Randy and Latwon, each have a special role at ArtHouse. While Janet—who sees this as a good start for the community—helps with cleaning and the overall planning for ArtHouse, Randy and Latwon are busy with more of the heavy-duty work.
Randy Plant volunteers his skills in basic construction and “anything else” he can help with. He stated that he feels good about the revitalization of Gary and sees ArtHouse as “a big opportunity.” Randy, who is also a photographer, hopes to display some of his work at ArtHouse.
Latwon Plant, who handles cleaning, polishing, and unloading of materials from the trucks, considers ArtHouse as a great place for all ages. He has even brought his daughter in on occasion to help. He believes that ArtHouse “will breathe a lot of life” into the Gary community.
ArtHouse reminds us of the importance of a community working together. This sets a positive example, and it also shows that the work of rebuilding a community is not just about the building itself but about the spirit of collaboration and sharing a common vision. ArtHouse is positioned to be a major part of Gary’s revitalization.
For more information about ArtHouse, visit www.ArtHouseGary.com. Don’t forget to attend the grand opening celebration of ArtHouse on November 19 from 4-6 p.m. Get a sneak peak of some of the artwork, take a tour of the facilities to gain an appreciation for all the hard work that has gone into creating ArtHouse, and savor some of the flavors from local chefs.