ARThaus provides home for Denton art
If you've been following the Denton art scene recently, chances are that you have heard of Denton ARThaus. If you haven't, you might be asking “what is ARThaus?” or “what do they do in Denton?”. Don't worry if you are, because The Dentonite has the scoop.
Zhaira Costiniano founded ARThaus in August 2016. Costiniano first got the idea for art house shows from her mentor, who told her about how they’d hang up their friends’ art and have shows in their house. Costiniano originally started ARThaus as a way to improve her and her friends’ CV’s so, as she puts it, they “could get experience displaying their art and I could play curator”. The inspiration for Costiniano to open up her home came from Gertrude Stein, a famous writer, poet and art collector who would open up her home to have gatherings for writers and artists to work. Stein’s apartment has hosted famous creators such as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henri Matisse and many others.
“I was really nervous to do ARThaus out of my house at first” Costiniano said. “But I feel that one of ARThaus’ draws is that it’s not just a house, it’s a home that people are welcome in as long as they’re respectful.”
ARThaus also has a sizable staff that has helped make it into what it is today. Costiniano said “At first I was really hesitant to ask for help, but at the same time, I realized I couldn’t do everything myself. But at the same time, I didn’t want to have interns, since both Redd and I have interned at galleries. You see how much they’re making, and you can see that they’re profiting enough that they can pay you. You see these galleries benefitting while abusing the work that you put in for free. But I’m glad I have the ARThaus staff.”
Costiniano attributes the ARThaus staff in shaping what ARThaus has become and for the success that they’ve had in the Denton community.
ARThaus’ main goals in Denton are to make art as accessible, inclusive, and comfortable for artists as possible. In an interview with Costiniano and ARThaus’ curator, Redd Howard, they said “we feel ARThaus fills a unique niche in Denton that other organizations don't, which is why we only want to focus on art. Everything that ARThaus does has a deeper purpose than just events”.
ARThaus gives Denton artists an outlet to transition from university to actual galleries.
“With us, we sort of teach them the process of submitting their work,” says Howard. “Submitting your art, having a CV, creating an artist statement, things that you don't really learn at university. I've had a lot of artists come up to me and say how ARThaus has given them the freedom to explore skills that aren't taught in a university setting.”
Costiniano and Howard want to convey that ARThaus is a sort of playground for artists to experiment with space, because in many cases, Denton artists lack the money and space they need to play around displaying their art.
“Artists appreciate having an actual wall to hang their art on,” says Howard.
Costiniano says that “we’re really grateful for how supportive The Dentonite is of us, and for the support of the Denton Gallery and the rest of the community as well.”
Both Costiniano and Howard said how fulfilled they are with their work in ARThaus and how they can see the results of their grassroots work in the community, as opposed to something more institutional.
ARThaus has recently expanded into more of the DFW area and now has a location in McKinney on the top floor of Essentialz Market.
“When we ask for new event ideas on Instagram, we get a lot of people suggesting that we should do environment-oriented shows, and I feel that this new space we now have is the perfect place to do that,” Costiniano said.
ARThaus hopes to contribute to the local McKinney art community as well as reach out to the art students nearby in places such as Collin College and McKinney High School. Howard recounts how when she went to high school in McKinney, she would have to go all the way to Dallas or Fort Worth to display art, since McKinney is mainly just suburbs.
The two hope to inspire other people in the Denton community to create similar organizations.
“It’s not really too hard or expensive to start something like ARThaus” says Costiniano. “For me, when I first started ARThaus, all I really had to spend money on was the website and wine so people would come to the events.”
On the scale that ARThaus has grown to, there are more expenses now, according to Costiniano and Howard. Now that they have started to sell merchandise, the staff no longer has to put their own money into the organization.
Howard says they want to start doing community workshops and that they’d like to “funnel the money that we make back into the community and now that we’re starting to sell merch I think we can do more like that.”
On the topic of their typical turnouts, they state that the group shows are their most popular events, but they don’t want to base their success off of how many people come to their events. Just people knowing that they provide the services they do is enough for them.
In the future, Costiniano expressed some interest about holding artist dinners, where artists come together for a meal and talk about art. ARThaus plans on holding more open studios/critiques, and keep providing those opportunities for artists to have a more open space to create and practice giving critiques in a non-academic setting.
On March 4th, ARThaus will be holding an 8x8 fundraiser. ARThaus is asking artists to donate their art on 8x8 canvases and the proceeds will go to funding ARThaus. There is currently a call for artists to contribute to ARThaus’ Performance Art Group Show, which will be on March 22. ARThaus will also be attending Fold Fest on March 24, where they will be selling their merch and their zine, which contains submissions from artists and writers in Denton.
Header image courtesy of ARThaus Denton.
Header by Kylie Phillips.