Founded by young creatives of Atlanta, Arthouse is based amidst a blooming DIY arts scene bursting with diverse creativity and art. The collective, which consists of creatives Uncle Bendr, Chriz Vaughn, Jlenz, Kix Hendrix, Mack Walker, and Mael, strives to give a platform to young and developing artists searching for a place in Atlanta’s art scene. Young artists are often lost, ignored or unappreciated within larger arts culture, their narratives diluted by mainstream ideas on what is or isn’t art. This is why Arthouse emerged as a collective by the youth, for the youth, meant to celebrate and empower the creative endeavors of young creatives. Innovative and forward-thinking, Arthouse truly encompasses the spirit of DIY: when there was no space for emerging artists in the ‘A’, the collective put their heads together and created it themselves. Performances, art shows, pop-ups and more, the collective is emerging as a driving force behind youth art culture. ArtHouse recently hosted their third event on the 9th of this month and already has big plans for the future.
During the event, the space brimmed with vibrant, diverse art, whether it be on a canvas or spray painted over the walls. The later performances by artists such as T Hood and Bali Baby brought a thumping, contagious energy that consumed the space and everyone in it. Crowds of young people from all over the city fed into the creativity fostered by the collective, and engaged in the patronage of a DIY art culture driven by the youth. To see how this kind of space can be created and cultivated, VOX ATL sat down with ArtHouse founders Jlenz, Kix Hendrix, and Mael to talk Arthouse as a community, culture, and movement in youth art, and contemplate the future expansion of the collective.
VOX ATL: What inspired the idea behind this collective?
Hendrix: Originally, one day me and Jlenz, we were talking, and we were like, ‘We got to do a pop-up.’ And I was like, ‘For sure. I gotta get some clothes, gotta get some artists.’ We just started talking and everything just started coming together within two conversations. And after that, it was an event. We started planning, started preparing. Everything just came together by itself, and then we created the collective because we were like, ‘We can’t do this sh*t by ourselves — we need more people.’ We got it together.
VOX ATL: What is the mission and the purpose behind what you’re doing here? Why do you do what you do?
Jlenz: Really we do everything just to showcase the youth and all the art we make because there’s really nobody else doing it. So we can give some people a platform for their artwork and get out of their comfort zone. They can come to be around people getting their work seen, and get their work sold. That’s really what we want to do.
VOX ATL: What’s really interesting about what you’re doing here is that it seems to be like a part of a bigger DIY movement of arts among the youth. How do you feel like you’re contributing to that and adding to that, especially thinking about all the young artists you are impacting by holding this platform in this space?
Hendrix: Well, I definitely think we’re contributing to that because, for most of the artists we bring on, it’s their first time even showing their art, selling their art. So we’re basically bringing young artists and merging them into, not the industry, but letting them get a feel of what it’s like to even be around other artists.
Mael: For everybody who is in Atlanta that really didn’t have a voice before ArtHouse — they probably have other venues or other events that they can go to. But they were hitting folks up and couldn’t get into contact. So what we’re doing is putting everybody from the ‘A’ on who needs a shot, want a shot or can’t get shot. Now they have one.
Jlenz: We don’t take a percentage of what you make — it’s like, you have it, you’re here and that’s enough for us.
VOX ATL: So this collective and effort are really by the youth for the youth. In line with this, can you talk a bit more about the artists you have showcased before, and who you are hoping to showcase in the future? What is the future of ArtHouse?
Hendrix: The future of ArtHouse? I don’t know. I mean right now we’re taking it one step at a time, but in the future, we’re trying to expand. We’re trying to be linked in the art crowd. Every city, LA, New York, Houston, f*ck around and might take it to Tokyo. Take it globally. Basically, we’re trying to have ArtHouse know every art community everywhere because there are art sub-communities everywhere.
VOX ATL: What kind of culture you do you think you’re creating here by having this? What is your culture?
Jlenz: Positivity. That’s all it is. I don’t want you to go out and do something dangerous to get some money. Like bro, stay down. Relax.
Mael: To be honest, we showcase for the ones who don’t even want to come out of their house because of anxiety, for people who are so far they might have even robbed someone the other day, trying to get their life saved. ArtHouse is for them, for every crowd.
Hendrix: Our culture is not even necessarily any other culture that already exists. We’re trying to create a new culture of integrated everything. Everything has to do with your own creativity and positivity. All we are trying to do spread is spread creativity and positivity.
VOX ATL: What would you say stands out about the sort of artists that come to you or the arts that you see from the creatives around you?
Mael: It’s raw. It’s really like, out the gutter.
Jlenz: We got folks spraying paintings right out of their garage. Like, no, this not the High Museum — all that filtered work, all those opinions. Like if you like it, you can bring it. I don’t care if I don’t like it, if you are confident about it bro, it’s going to be here.
Mael: We don’t even just have only art here. We have clothes set up. So really the culture we have in Atlanta is a whole lot of networking. It’s a whole bunch of just rough riders coming together and just experiencing Atlanta through our own lens you know, making a big-ass kaleidoscope. That’s our culture and what we create with it. As far as moving everything forward, the big steps are coming, so all I can say is, brace yourselves.
Hendrix: I do want to say this about artists like reaching out to artists, getting them to participate in the events. Our first event, it was so hard for us to get artists like nobody wanted to show their art. Wasn’t even six months ago. Yeah, it was so hard. I can say I hit up probably like 200 people in one night. They were replying like, ‘Oh, maybe next time’ — nobody was messing with it. But now this is like our third event. We have so many artists we can’t even keep up.
VOX ATL: It’s crazy how things develop and innovate so fast. And I feel like when it comes to the art scene right now, it’s really the youth that are driving it. If you could say anything to the young creatives out there, what would you want to say? What is ArtHouse’s message?
Jlenz: I’m a photographer and I started out at 13. You just gotta be confident in yourself. If you like it, then that’s all that matters because at the end of the day you got to live with your work more than anybody else. So you like your work man, just keep working on it. Even if you don’t like it at first man, find your lane. Like what works for you, make it work.
Hendrix: All I got is, never stop creating. Don’t be clout chasing. Always spread positivity. Don’t spread any negativity upon anybody, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter and you just spread negativity into the world for no reason.
Mael: I would say be yourself. Don’t let no motherf*cker judge you and don’t let any anything or anybody who has ever judged you affect how your outcome and your outlook on life is going to be, and really just keep treading on man.