Every time I head up the walkway to the Art House, I can feel the creative energy in the air. From the fluttering prayer flags to the mosaic steps, everywhere I look there’s something cheerful to see.
With its big front porch and colorful, natural landscaping, the 129+ year-old building seems to be calling, "Welcome! Come on in."
Whether you’re young or old, a seasoned artist or looking to dabble, there’s something for everyone here.
The spectrum of classes is broad: Pottery wheel and sculpture, drawing and painting, fabric art, home school classes and more. There are summer camps, workshops, family art drop-in and parents’ night out. Over 200 students flow through the Art House each week, taught by 14 artist teachers, some award winning. The idea is simple: They teach what they make.
The "Mom" of the house, Sona Knox, grew up in the Midwest as the daughter of P.E. teachers. Their influence led her to major in Physiology at the University of Illinois, but she minored in Art. She went on to pursue a Master’s degree at UC Berkeley and later a teaching certificate at TWU. Joseph Cornell, an artist from the 1940's who worked with interesting found objects to create a "universe in a box" concept, has inspired many of Sona's projects. One of Sona’s award-winning pieces is currently on display at the McKinney Performing Arts Center. Others have been shown in Dallas and McKinney galleries.
Influenced by the book, The Artist’s Way, Sona’s idea for Art House was born. It became reality on a fortuitous day in 2005 when she felt a nudge that she should “look for her building.” As she drove through town, it was as though her Jeep brought her right to 502 Kentucky St. The house had history, being built by a Civil War veteran, and Sona was immediately enamored. Although there were some obstacles to overcome, in the end everything fell right into place and her dream of having somewhere to teach, learn and create came true. Her faith had brought her far and her vision and talent would soon bless McKinney.
As a leader in the art community, Sona, along with other local artists such as Kerry Randall-Johnston, Molly Goodall and Lisa LaBarge started a new tradition in 2009. That tradition grew and as of last year, 22 local artists opened up their studios to the public in what is called the McKinney Art Studio Tour or MAST. This fall, MAST will run the 2nd weekend of November. According to the Art House website, they will be chock full of activities and artists demonstrating their handiwork: painting demos, manipulating clay for an art installation and being part of a photography project. A silent auction is also in the works. There is no charge to go on the tour so be sure to mark your calendar now.
Recently, Sona told me the story of how one day, the now late Margaret Trammel Crow stopped by the Art House for a visit. Besides being a hugely influential woman in the Dallas Art and Real Estate worlds, she also happened to be grand daughter of the original house owner. As she walked through the house, reflecting on her childhood memories, to Sona’s relief, Margaret gave a nod of approval, saying her Grandpa would love what she did with the house. On behalf of myself and other McKinney residents, we wholeheartedly agree.