Art in House launched as a partnership of four members who shared a vision of supporting local art. The little space in the Lakeshore Mews was jointly run by Jon and Marlisha Lewis, Jenn Guerin and Max Lupo. Gallery space nurtured creativity; for emerging artists, with classes, and year-round programming inspired by nature. The acquisition of a backroom allowed expansion of space and concepts as transitions, like the seasons, have turned at Art in House, now run by husband and wife team the Lewis’.
Marlisha Lewis shared they recently identified a need for artists to have studio space; some were “yearning to have a creative community to be with, artists were seeking feedback and inspiration, for the community to come in, to engage with.”
“We don’t want inhibition, we want people to come in and do what they want to and we want our gallery to represent unique ways of displaying work.”
“We want to not just show another finished work of art, but to be documenting work in progress, sharing it on our Instagram feed, encapsulate the artists entire process in the galley show is an example of the direction. People connect with art in a different way when they connect with the artist.”
Jon Lewis shares that his videography skills are part of; “our online presence transitioning more to a platform for artists to talk about and document, push their process to the forefront. This space allows artists to push boundaries; drill holes in the walls, paint huge murals or literally write on the walls. Jenn Guerin was part of pushing that forward, she was a real asset in that regards.”
Change can be challenging, and since March 2017 they have “relinquished control a little bit and asked the community how else Art in House can be used?” Music Lessons Barrie teaches lessons here; Northern Appeal who raised funds for children’s mental health at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre; (RVH) hosted their launch party at Art in House. The back room may be used as long or short-term rental studio spaces.
Marlisha Lewis generates promotional material and develops programs. A weekly art program was created for high school girls from Barrie North Collegiate, allowing them to achieve their full art credit while engaged in classes at Art in House. The East Bayfield Community Centre in Barrie commissioned the girls to create a mural that hangs in the Community Centre, staying on view indefinitely.
Biannually Art in House hosts the Give Local event—giving local artisans a chance to present what they make to the community, while creating community. “The community reverberates off itself. If we can be a space where those connections are made we want to continue.”
“We embrace the mess; we are more artists at heart than entrepreneurs at heart.”
Jon Lewis is a teacher, working as a Technology Consultant for Leadership and Learning at the York Region Board Office. Conversation and dialogue about learning is vital to the Lewis’ and led to Jon’s involvement with Future Design School, (FDS) “Design thinking is part of my role, to support teachers with innovation and technology integration.”
As one of the teachers invited to sit on a panel through Ed Tech at MaRS, to evaluate and provide feedback on the products coming onto the market, Jon Lewis had access to the newest technology.
“FDS is essentially a startup to connect boards and teachers with the design thinking process,” Jon Lewis explains.
Moving from concept to classroom, Jon Lewis underwent FDS teacher training, brought it to his classroom and then to Barrie, where under the FDS umbrella, with the assistance of Neeta Grover, he ran the Young Innovators Camp at Art in House during the summer of 2016. “At the end of camp, the kids have a prototype of an app that will solve some aspect of their initial question, what’s something you feel you potentially have the power to change?”
In affiliation with the Downtown Barrie BIA, Art in House hosted two “Design Sprint” single day workshops; one connected to Earth Day, another helped kids create skateboard designs based on their own personalities.
Design ideas and creativity have a home at Art in House.