Unlocking and Uplifting Creativity: New gallery off Camp Bowie Boulevard lets guests embrace imaginative sides

By David ArkinNovember 20, 2023April 30th, 2024No Comments

Unlocking and Uplifting Creativity: New gallery off Camp Bowie Boulevard lets guests embrace imaginative sides

By Tori Couch
Photos by Olaf Growald

Driving down Camp Bowie Boulevard, it’s hard not to notice a steel raptor sculpture outside a copper-colored building trimmed with green. A mural covering one side of the building tells a story using a bird’s nest, three eggs, a bird, bugs and a flowering blossom in the bottom-right corner. 

Turning down Neville Street, more art catches the eye in the form of a water fountain and a steel twoheaded dragon. Another sculpture that looks like pipes falling to the ground is near a peaceful sitting area.

Each piece, made by local artists, draws in passersby, curious about what artists Joy Harvison, Jimmy Joe Jenkins and Bradley Kent have built inside their newly opened House of NeVille Gallery & Gatherings. 

“We wanted to create a space that we would go into,” said Kent, who has a graphic design background and manages the gallery’s marketing and communication. “We like to travel, and we like to go see other art and get inspired. You see a shiny building down the road with a dinosaur and a dragon, we want to go there!” 

House of NeVille’s broadly anticipated grand opening during Fall Gallery Night in early September brought nearly 1,000 guests, the trio estimates. A few weeks later, the gallery hosted a Fort Worth Fashion Week event. 

Harvison, Jenkins and Kent have been a part of the Fort Worth art scene for several years. The trio opened Studio 101 in the River District during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but it closed at the end of 2021. Harvison and Jenkins opened Everybody’s Place in 2016 as a precursor to Studio 101. The new gallery is about 1,000 square feet larger than Studio 101, allowing for more events and activities to occur simultaneously

“When people come in, they say it is not what you expect,” Harvison said. “They come in and go, ‘Oh, this is beautiful, and what do you do?’ And that’s the big question.” 

The roughly 3,300-square-foot building offers guests several ways to interact with art. 

Retail space near the entrance has handmade items including jewelry, hats and candles. A themed gallery to the left displays artwork from about a dozen local artists. The current theme is “Do You See What I See?” and will be changed out in January. Paintings are mounted on sheet metal that hangs off rafters. Tables, chairs and a sofa placed throughout the gallery invite guests to stay awhile. 

A classroom at the other end of the building helps guests tap into their creative side. Class offerings may include drawing, painting, watercolors or photography. 

Recurring monthly classes such as the Read and Write Club and Change of Mind: Free @ 3pm, which promotes mental and emotional health through art, highlight how creativity can take many different forms.

“It’s whatever art field that you want to be in,” Jenkins said. “You can have it here and you can create your own atmosphere here. You as an individual. That’s really what we’re all about. We’re about the public and getting them involved in art.” 

Harvison, Jenkins and Kent spent seven months transforming the former dry cleaner into the House of NeVille. Uneven floors throughout the building required leveling before the tile could be placed. The trio painted the outside and added doors and walls inside. They also raised the ceiling in the entryway and the area that is now the catering kitchen. 

A raised ceiling and a rebuilt frame made it possible to place the front doors. Harvison calls them the “love doors.” She met her husband behind those doors 45 years ago while working an accounting job in Haltom City. 

Harvison thought about those doors during the renovation and drove to Haltom City to see if they were still at the place where she used to work. After Harvison confirmed the doors existed and conferred with Kent and Jenkins about using them for the gallery entrance, the doors were restored. That required replacing the lock, plugging holes that had formed over the years and refinishing the doors.

Jenkins designed and painted the mural on the building with the assistance of Kent and Harvison. The mural tells a short story, culminating in a love story as a flower emerges between two leaves, and serves as a teaching tool, said Jenkins, who has painted several murals around Fort Worth. 

“It’s about the community again,” he said of the mural. “It belongs not just to this building. It belongs to Camp Bowie, it belongs to the city of Fort Worth as a gift. It’s a place where you can meditate and bring your kids.” 

Artist Rebecca Low, whose studio is down the street from House of NeVille, built the “Unbundled” pipes sculpture outside, and local artist Rick Luepke made the two-headed dragon and raptor sculptures. 

In some ways, House of NeVille is an extension of Everybody’s Place and Studio 101. While in the River District, the trio formed a relationship with The Art Station, a nonprofit organization offering art therapy programs, that continues to this day. 

Allowing art to serve as a healing agent during difficult times is something that Harvison, Jenkins and Kent have always viewed as an important part of each gallery’s mission. 

“By doing a piece of art, you’re tapping into your spirit and in a meditative state,” Jenkins said. “You’re revealing what was inside of you for everyone to see. Everybody might see it as a beautiful picture, but to you, you see the colors as an emotional subject matter.” 

Harvison spoke about the role art had in her journey of healing after losing a son unexpectedly several years ago. That’s when she got a small studio in the River District near where Jenkins was painting the “Monkey Lisa” mural on the side of Lettuce Cook’s Fort Worth location on White Settlement Road. 

“It’s just a long journey,” Harvison said. “I’m proud to say I came out on this side of it. I hope when people come here that they can get to that side, because you don’t know. You just have no idea. You’re just going along. Everyone struggles and everyone has to come out somewhere.”

Harvison, Jenkins and Kent met countless artists and community members in the River District who have supported them over the years. 

That support system, whom Kent called a family, is growing again on Camp Bowie. Neighbors have complimented the building’s new look and helped keep the area clean by trimming tree branches and taking down a mattress frame that got caught on a nearby light pole after a dump truck drove down the street. 

The creatives behind House of NeVille will continue engaging with the community through events like a Friendsgiving in mid-November and have designated April as their giving month. The gallery is available to rent for private events, and the website has details about upcoming classes and more. 

Harvison, Jenkins and Kent want creatives of all skill levels and backgrounds to feel welcome at House of NeVille. 

“It’s about elevating creatives, because we’re all creatives,” Kent said. “Artistry of any kind likes to be uplifted.”