Arleen Peterson of ArtHouse, Shante Wilson, Maurice Shelton, Christinae Hudson, and Sheila Freeman of ArtHouse

ArtHouse's first anniversary is a celebration of culinary program

Contributed By:The 411 News

Art + philanthropy = economic development in Gary and on Chicago's south side

Walking in the door of ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen to celebrate its first anniversary December 16, visitors were welcomed with trays of cheesecakes and cupcakes, cream filled delicacies, chocolate covered berries, chocolates on chocolates, tarts, bars, candies, and flutes of sweet potato cake and banana pudding.

Chefs who created them were the center of attention at the ArtHouse Bake Off, a showcase of the first students from its Culinary Business Incubator program. Inside the building that once was home to Dusties’ Restaurant, a throng of supporters waited to learn which chef would be named by the panel of judges as winner and become a vendor at Majestic Star Casinos.

Most in the culinary incubator program are home-based food entrepreneurs and caterers who want to grow their businesses. The 8-week program is free, helps with business development, and offers workshops, training, and mentorship opportunities.

ArtHouse is a collaboration with the City of Gary, Bloomberg Foundation, Knight Foundation, and University of Chicago entities – Harris School and Arts+Public Life.

Speaking to Chris Nolte of Lakeshore Public Radio recently about the impact of ArtHouse, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said she didn’t want a one-and-done effort. “I wanted something to serve the community continuously. A problem in our city, we didn’t have enough restaurants. We’ve seen people who haven’t had their dreams invested in, may not have had an opportunity to pursue their ideas. Now we’re giving them the opportunity.” The mayor was one of the judges.

ArtHouse is not just a culinary center, it’s also a space for visual and performance arts.

Design help for ArtHouse was provided by Theaster Gates, who heads Arts+Public Life. Gates is known for repurposing unused and sometimes abandoned buildings in blighted neighborhoods on Chicago’s south side, repurposing them for community use. He redesigned the exterior and interior of the former Dusties’ restaurant.

Gates has repeated at ArtHouse what he’s done in Chicago and other projects around the world.

A week before the Gary celebration, Gates’ most recent Chicago project in Washington Park celebrated its third anniversary. The University of Chicago and private investors are partnering with Gates in Arts Block, redeveloping one side of the entire block along 300 East Garfield Blvd between Prairie Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive. The once currency exchange is now a café. Next door is a reading room. A liquor and grocery store is now the Arts Incubator, a community arts and cultural center. A theater is in the construction stage.

Jewelry, clothing and accessories, art, books, health and wellness products created by local vendors were for sale at the Art Incubator.

When the store front theatre opens, Nikki Patin, director of the Arts Incubator said, “We’ll be able to bring in live performances and host theatre productions the same as they do on the north side.”

The three finalists from the Anniversary Bake Off were 1st place, Christinae Hudson of Cup ‘D Bakery and Boutique; 2nd, Maurice "Blaque" Shelton of Black Rose Pastries; and 3rd, Shante Wilson of Divalicious Desserts. “All three were selected for the next phase of the process for receiving the Majestic Casino/ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen/EDC opportunity,” said ArtHouse administrative assistant Sheila Freeman.

Theaster Gates: “It’s clear to me that when people believe in the places where they live… invest in the places where they live… live where they grew up… love the places around them… know their neighbors and places around them… beautiful things can happen.”

Arleen Peterson of ArtHouse, Shante Wilson, Maurice Shelton, Christinae Hudson, and Sheila Freeman of ArtHouse

Keon Thompson serves sweet potato cake and banana pudding parfait to ArtHouse judges

Nikki Patin gives instructions to volunteers at Arts Incubator


Breakfast Soul Bowl at Currency Exchange Café. Slices of bacon, an egg sit atop sauted collard greens, and hash brown potatoes with a biscuit on the side.

Story Posted:12/27/2017

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