La Maison d'Art
The Hire Harlem crew sat down with Stephanie Call at her gorgeous gallery to talk politics, helping the community, and of course art.
HH: What does it mean to be a part of the Harlem Community?
SC: I’m a part of many Harlem business groups—the Harlem Arts Alliance, Harlem Businesses Alliance, Women’s Chamber of Commerce, etc.
But more importantly, I think it’s very important to be part of the community…you can’t just drop your business on a community...you must learn about it’s history and see what people want. You must learn from your community.
I moved to Harlem 18 years ago because of the West African community here that spoke French. I fell in love with Harlem then.
HH: What do you do to support the community?
SC: At least 50% of all artists in my exhibits are local. This place is about giving a platform for conscious artists... every exhibit we have is deep—it has to open up something inside of the people. It has to draw out a conversation that needs to be had in society.
I also do a lot of programs with young girls. We have a mentorship program that uses this space, we work with FCC, Abysennian Church… I’ve hosted the Gathering, which is a new church, and we had their residence here every Wednesday night. I host the local Jack and Jill chapter. Harlem Business Alliance had an award ceremony here…We’ve had a spiritual retreat here.
We open up our art gallery at any time for art classes for the local elementary schools. We told the art teachers, if the kids want to come at any time and meet the artists, just let me know. So the kids used to come over all the time and it was fantastic to see the kids ask artists such powerful questions. I had to remove the prices of the art work though. Kids would say things like “You mean to tell me I could get paid $5,000 dollars for this! I’m about to be an artist.” So I love that. … Anything for the schools and programs that help the community, we allow them to work here for free.
Whenever a local artist needs to rehearse, we give them a very low price too. The Shade of Truth and Liberation theaters rehearse here some times, so I’m very big with the play writes practicing here.
We also host the Sugar Hill Market, which is a flea market of curated local vendors—many of whom do not have proper storefronts.
To learn more, check out there site: http://www.lamaisondartny.com/