Art House Reaching Out, Reaching In, Finding Magic

As a longtime resident of Brooklyn Center, I’ve been asked to write a perspective of Art House. After talking with energetic staff and researching Art House’s arts education programming and classes, I return to a moment that unfolded  during a late June fundraiser. Experimental filmmaker Robert Banks created an interactive multimedia installation for  this event. The set-up stretched from the interior of the Art House building into the parking lot bordering Denison  Avenue.

The improvisational work had a vital urban edge: stacked and clamped tables held a projector; a photo shoot was staged  on the porch steps of a century house; interns and actors worked the scene.

In the midst of this excitement, three children came up the driveway to investigate. Within minutes they were sitting on  the porch stoop engaged in the photo shoot. Banks–a sensitive artist and natural teacher–directed, answered questions,  and worked with these children in an unhurried way. It was clear from their expressions that they felt included. Indeed,  they were collaborators.

It occurred to me that rather than exemplifying “neighborhood outreach”, this was a moment of “in-reach” –to the  minds of three children, a special moment of nurturing and enfolding into the creative process. And Art House—with its  belief in the ability of strong local artists to make arts accessible—had set the stage.

Art has a transformative capacity. It engages, reaches inward, and calls the mind to more exquisite perception and  insight. This moment in a parking lot on Cleveland’s near Westside demonstrates that power: from grassroots comes  magic.

Kim Bissett is an artist, teacher, a member of the Art House Board, and a 22-year resident of Brooklyn Center.