Vanessa German launches community art project
Sienna Clifford at Art House in Homewood. Sienna, 6, is a regular at Vanessa German's afternoon and weekend arts sessions for neighborhood children.
Ajanay Holly, 11, sits in a stream of light on Vanessa German's front porch on Hamilton Avenue.
Trinity Reynolds, 6, left, paints while Tori Hammond, 8, center, laughs as artist Vanessa German sings at the Art House in Homewood.
Sunny Littlejohn, 10, right, presents Vanessa German with a painting she made at the Art House.
The canvas doesn't have to be two-dimensional at Art House. Three-dimensional objects, including hands, are fair game.
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The Art House, at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Hale Street in Homewood, is a yellow brick home owned by Allegheny Housing Rehabilitation Corp.
Vanessa German has filled it with paper, paints, brushes, picture frames, archival boxes, oversize T-shirts used as smocks and children, who stop by two or three days a week to make art. There is a painted "Art House" sign outside, as well as yard signs that say, "Stop Shooting -- We Love You."
The walls are filled with art made by Miss Vanessa, as she's known, and the children. On one wall are "Art House Rules" the children came up with on their own. Some samples:
• Be nice
• No hiting
• Don't say 'I can't do it.' You try it.
• Be respectful. Respectful.
• We can be nice
Ms. German, 36, is an artist who grew up in Los Angeles. She came to the Pittsburgh area in 2001, and settled on Hamilton Avenue a few years later. On nice days, she worked on her front porch. Kids started coming to watch, and she began to invite them to work on art projects in front of her house.
Last year, she received permission to use a house a couple of doors down and began to host Art House Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and some Saturdays.
Although the house may go back to being a family home instead of a neighborhood art center, Ms. German expects the Art House concept will continue. She hopes to find another place.
"As long as I live over here, I don't see how it would be possible to stop. I'll still be making art on my front porch. I'll still have a big bin of supplies."
First Published January 20, 2013 12:00 am