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Let's Rebuild the ArtHouse! - vanessa german

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The ArtHouse began as Love Front Porch more than 10 years ago on the front stoop of my house in Homewood. I would make art outside on an old ironing board that I’d rescued from the trash to repurpose as an outdoor art table. The children who lived in the row houses next to me would often sit and join me, playing with clay, learning to take pictures on an old Pentax K100 film camera.

I love art. I believe in the power of art. I believe in the power of love— art, the process of creating, leading with my imagination, experiencing the freedom that comes from creating has literally saved my life. So, to experience the joy and fun that came from sharing, in the simplest ways, from my own front stoop, right where I was, transformed me and how I thought about being alive. I realized that to share what you love, IS to share LOVE itself. And bell hooks taught me that love always makes more of itself.

From my front stoop at a rented row house at the top of Hamilton Avenue to my first home purchased with what I took to calling “art money” and then rehabbed through hands-on hard work and bartering, I had become a homeowner. My sculpture practice grew too large for the small, damp basement that I was working in, so I began working on my front porch. My partner at the time and I would share art supplies, food, and space with a couple of kids in the neighborhood who’d always stop by after school to use our phone. These couple of kids turned into 15, sometimes 20, kids making art on the front porch with me as I’d work on sculpture or just play around and enjoy making art with them.

 We moved from my front porch into a public housing house across the street. We were open several days a week, with volunteers, sharing what we love, providing art supplies and snacks, and making space!

Eventually, I purchased two more homes further down Hamilton Avenue, one of which became the official ArtHouse.

At the ArtHouse, we have:

- a large garden

- an outdoor play space

- an indoor art studio filled with supplies available for all to adventure into and experience whenever the door is open!

- a reading room

- and a small backyard theater.

We’ve produced plays, done a reading and writing series called Tuesday Night Monologue Project. We’ve held fall festivals, complete with a large pumpkin patch and petting zoo!

We’ve done all of this with so much love, so many hands. 

Love Front Porch is the original house that inspired the larger ArtHouse. Both houses are in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Both houses function as artist residencies and maker spaces. 

Early Sunday morning on the 14th of February, Valentine’s Day, the ArtHouse artist-in-residence awoke to smoke and a fire in the bathroom of the residency apartment. She’d lit candles and did not ensure that they were extinguished before she went to sleep. The candles caused a fast-moving fire. 

Previously, my insurance company declared that they would NOT insure the houses (Love Front Porch and the ArtHouse) as their market value was far lower than the cost would be to rebuild the houses, if the houses had to be rebuilt. Based on the value of my studio space and artwork, however, the insurance company did agree to insure my artwork and my tools, but not the houses themselves. So the houses were not insured. 

As development has been pushing into the neighborhood, I’ve been receiving increased pressure to sell the ArtHouse properties, but have always known that I wanted the spaces to be rooted and have legacy in Homewood. I want the spaces to be a part of the freedom and creative power of BIPOC in the region, to be spaces where artists and non-artists can come to feel the joy of creating in a space that they can walk to and feel fully welcome in. 


We are going to rebuild the ArtHouse bigger and better. The ArtHouse will continue to be a community space and a residency space for TWO artists. There will be:

- a healing garden!

- a new ceramics studio!

- and printmaking facilities! 

All donations will go toward the restoration of the house. I am in the process of hiring a structural engineer to determine the specific work that needs to be done and the cost for the work. I will share those details and dollar amounts here with you.

Any size donation helps and is greatly appreciated!

If you are interested in making a large-dollar donation, please contact Deesha Philyaw via private message on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter for more information.


~vanessa german



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Vanessa German
Pittsburgh, PA

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