Three Local Artists Create a Special Haven
BY COURTNEY DABNEY // 09.02.23
Art can have a healing effect. Three local Fort Worth artists — Joy Harvison, Jimmy Joe Jenkins and Bradley Kent — formed a bond through art therapy. They felt its benefits in their own lives and founded an interesting platform to share it with others. Now, their newest art studio is taking shape just off Camp Bowie Boulevard. Get ready for the House of NeVille.
In the middle of the pandemic, this art trio opened their first artistic haven in Fort Worth’s River District. Studio 101 opened in 2020 as a community meeting space, holding beginners classes in many art forms. This was a community event space, even holding rooftop yoga classes. It closed in late 2022.
Not deterred from their mission to champion local artists and make the healing qualities of artistic expression accessible to all, the trio is at it once again. This time, they’re bringing a similar vibe to Fort Worth’s West Side.
The House of NeVille – Gallery & Gatherings is the newest reboot. You’ll find it at 2409 Neville Street, near Tokyo Cafe. While the neighborhood has been watching it slowly take shape for many months, its grand opening is now officially planned for Fort Worth Gallery Night ― next Saturday, September 9, from 5 pm to 10 pm ― and will even bring live music.
The exterior of the building that once housed a dry cleaner (among other things) has been transformed by blooming murals. The inside is decorated cleanly and ready to host events and welcome art lovers.
“We got the building in January and then completely gutted the space,” Jenkins tells Paper City Fort Worth. “NeVille is a dual meaning. Of course, we are located on Neville Street. But it also means a new village in French.”
Which is exactly what they want to be a part of.
“All of our neighbors have been so welcoming,” Jenkins notes.
The Tex-Deco building with its stepped roofline, capped by dramatic circles, was looking its age. Picture a 1980s throwback of pink and green. Now it has been re-stuccoed and painted a metallic copper, still rimmed by forest green tile work. The circular shapes on the roofline, which had been filled in, have now been opened once more and fitted with LED lights. Which adds even more night-time possibilities.
Inside The House of NeVille
On the afternoon I visited The House of NeVille, a water fountain was being installed near the front door. To the right, on the Pershing Street side of the building, a sculpture garden will soon emerge.
When you first meet Jimmy Joe Jenkins, it’s best to be aware. Jenkins is not a hand shaker. Nor is he a fist bumper. He’s a hugger. His familiarity is disarming and his enthusiasm is infectious. You feel instantly welcomed as part of this new art village.
Step inside The House of NeVille and you’ll see that every decision that’s been made about the design is intentional. You’ll find a bright empty slate of a rental space with a convenient catering kitchen down a hallway and new bathrooms installed. You enter into an art-filled gift shop, complete with a gift wrap station so shoppers can drop in to find a unique artistic gift while supporting local artists at the same time.
The House of NeVille will also serve as a rotating gallery showcasing the works of local artists. The artworks will hang on galvanized moveable display walls, which gives the space ultimate flexibility to transform for events. There’s a piano for live music and cozy seating areas with moveable high and low-top tables.
“We conceived it as an art gallery and gathering space,” Jenkins says. “We are here for the artists. There’s a 70/30 split in favor of the artists, and that works the same for artist-led classes.”
Just past the catering kitchen is the art space, where classes will be taught by the artist/owners as well as by guest artists. Think pottery, watercolor, children’s classes and even lessons on crafting mala prayer bead necklaces.
“We’ll have an online calendar where you can sign up as either a teacher or a student,” Jenkins says.
The class organizer describes the class, decides the amount of time needed, determines the number of attendees that will be allowed and sets a price that covers their time and materials.
“When Joy and I met we both used art as therapy,” Jenkins tells PaperCity. “The Monkey mural was my first mural in 2016 along the side wall of Lettuce Cook.”
Jenkins is also the man behind The Butterflies that grace the exterior of Pearl Snap Kolaches with both murals located along White Settlement Road in Fort Worth.
Now a blooming nature scene has transformed the Camp Bowie side of House of NeVille as well. It’s called The Birds And The Bees, and Jenkins says he planned it to be a comfortable place for parents to bring their kids.
“Inspired by everything from Cole Porter’s wit to Samuel Coleridge’s poetic observation of nature’s work, this mural transcends mere decoration,” Jenkins says. The artist hopes it will be used as an educational tool as well as a conversation starter.
“It is a statement of joy, a reflection of our own human experiences and a gentle reminder that we too are part of the eternal rhythm of the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees,” Jenkins says.
Following the grand opening on September 9, House of NeVille is set to host the kickoff event of Fort Worth Fashion Week on September 27. It is all about supporting the arts while further introducing the new Fort Worth space.