Vanessa German believes in the power of art.
She founded the ARThouse, a haven for children in Homewood where they can dip a brush in paint.
“When every day you have the opportunity to prove to yourself that you’re something, to make something physically tangible from your own ideas, from your own dreams, you have your own proof that you’re something,” she said.
The ARThouse is free, always welcoming, and is located in one of the city's roughest neighborhoods.
“The police have called this part of Homewood one of the most dangerous quarter miles,” German said.
Less than three months ago a man was shot and killed right outside the ARThouse in front of a sign that reads "stop shooting. We love you."
“We didn’t stop and hide and say it’s too scary to have the ARThouse. We can’t have kids outside” German said. “No, we celebrate the good.”
German painted the spot where the man died with gold paint, as remembrance not only for him, but for all of the recent victims.
The gold, she said, symbolized all that is good and gold in all those victims.
“I think about the ARThouse, the site, and how it’s colorful and it’s filled with the touch of a hundred different kids and parents and grandparent. They’re choosing to write the word ‘love’ so many times. They’re choosing it,” she said.
The ARThouse is funded entirely by donations.
The childrens’ artwork was recently displayed at the First Unitarian Church in Shadyside.
The ARThouse will be expanding later this year to a bigger home just a few doors down from the current location on Hamilton Avenue.
To learn more or to donate, log on to http://lovefrontporch.com/.