09 Aug La Maison d’Art | Gallery, Guesthouse, Event Space
La Maison d’Art in Harlem is one of New York City’s premiere art galleries and guesthouse, both. Checkout what owner Stephanie Calla has to say about this space and its positive impact on the community.
What is La Maison d’Art? How did it come to exist?
La Maison d’Art Gallery was created about 5 years ago. Initially I wanted to do something with this space, something creative, something community based, events and gatherings. I really wanted the gallery to have a positive and empowering vibe.
Friends who are artists would leave pieces of artwork in the house while they travelled. They suggested that I use the space as an art gallery. Whenever they would come around they would bring new art, and we would do exhibits.
I was not in the art field, and I didn’t know anything about it! So for about a year to two years I was probably more of a storage space than an art gallery. A few times I had curators ask me to do events, and that helped me feel secure enough to jump start.
The art really built itself – little by little. For the past 3 years we’ve been very active. I really see the art as a bridge to a lot of things. You can really connect issues, opinions, debates through art. It brings you to a “neutral ground”. When I say neutral ground I mean a place where everybody feels comfortable enough to talk about anything they wanted to put on the table. I wanted to make it so that when you come out of here, you come out with something “worth it”, with insight, more knowledge, with your questions answered.
How did you plan to impact the community?
I wanted to make this space a channel for impact. I meet people who are making an impact every day. I wanted to use the gallery to help them expose or talk about what they do. So initially I didn’t think that we would make an impact, I thought about being just a tool. But with time I realized that we [as a gallery] are making an impact as well.
Anything that’s triggering our intelligence and making us question – I’m all for it! We like to focus on things that are not just artistic, but also have a social component.
What’s it mean to be “socially responsible”?
Every time there’s something here I feel blessed to be in the front row. I’m blown away by the talent; I’m blown away by the resources, the knowledge, and people’s drive to really make their projects work. I’m pushed by the ambition that the artists, activists and entrepreneurs bring here.
Being socially responsible means giving these people an opportunity to express their beliefs in a safe space.
What could the community do to better help La Maison d’Art?
Please just continue to bring me topics they want to discuss, ideas, debates they want to have, and art they want to explore. [La Maison d’Art] really lives because people are interested in it. If the things we did here weren’t relevant to the community I would have nothing.
Describe your community in 3 words…
“Down-to Earth, Genuine, Challenging”
What’s the best thing that’s ever happened in La Maison d’Art?
There have been so many people who have made a difference in the life of this house. I have to say though, there’s one day we had a wedding here and I met the mother of the groom. She’s an actress, playwright, a life coach, and a few wonderful things. She became my mentor and really helped me grow, really helped me see the vision for [La Maison d’Art].