Art Haus creates community for artists in Auburn-Opelika

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M. A. Hughes | Auburn-Opelika Tourism

Art Haus creates community for artists in Auburn-Opelika

Three years ago on a trip to Abingdon, Virginia, Art Haus owners J. Stern and his sister, Ginger, were inspired by a place called the “Arts Depot.” There the local art community worked in conjunction with the city of Abingdon to convert the old city train depot into working art studios and galleries.

“We just thought it was an incredible place,” J. said.

Not long after returning home from Virginia, the two began work through the Henry J. Stern Family Foundation to create a haven for local artists in their own community.

The Art Haus is just that place. Located at 500 N. Railroad Ave. in Opelika, the nonprofit organization is dedicated to “recognizing, educating, supporting and enriching our community by partnering with local and regional artists.” It houses a working studio space and gallery exhibits for artists to create and display their work; it also provides many educational opportunities for those who want to learn more about the arts.

“Opelika is a very creative community,” Ginger said. “We’re hoping that the Art Haus can be a vital part of that, a place for people to paint and be creative. Our goal is to offer a creative space to creative people and for that to result in enriching our community.”

The Art Haus has recently held an array of community events, from the Opelika City Schools Superintendent Art Show in the spring to an open house featuring artwork from Opelika City Schools students. It has also hosted two small private art classes for kids and regularly rents the space out three days a month to a group of ladies called “The Studio Sisters.”

But J. and Ginger are already looking to the future.

“Once all three phases of construction are complete, we’ll have about eight studios for local artists to rent,” J. said. “Then we can really start sharing the creativity that so many have.”

The Art Haus lives inside the old Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church. J. and Ginger purchased the space in 2017 and partnered with award-winning architect Behzad Nakhjaven, who crafted the space into what it is today.

“We explained to Behzad what we wanted and pretty much gave him a blank canvas to work with,” Ginger said. “It was really important to us to utilize as much of the original structure as possible.”

The building is still a work in progress, however. J. and Ginger, Behzad and a board of directors consisting of local artists, educators and friends are currently working on expanding the property to include more studio space. They also hope to include a space for an Artist-in-Residence who would live in the building and manage the studios and gallery. 

 

“We have lots of great ideas from a very creative board of directors,” J. said. “So we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

Visit the Art Haus website to learn more. 

 

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