#AMDFW Featured Artist: Lara Lenhoff the Artsy Monkey

Born in South Africa in 1980, I immigrated to the United States when Apartheid was becoming a prevalent issue. I have continuously been impacted by my environment and surroundings and have made it a personal mission to give back to my community in every way that I can as an artist. In working with the Office of Cultural Affairs as a liaison for the arts and now managing and curating at Gallery 3 in the Bishop Arts, I represent artists and photographers who share my vision with their willingness to give back to their communities. Painting live is a passion of mine and I enjoy doing it at events to raise funds for the organizations that invite me to do so.

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If there’s anything that I have learned while focusing intently on making my career successful as an artist, it is that patience above anything is the most crucial assett to survival. Everything is a progression, just like chords on a musical level and music is the fundamental backbone to what inspires what I create visually. Having experience as a singer and songwriter, I appreciate the rhythm, lyrics, and melodies of the music I listen to and appreciate.

On July 23, 2016, a group show that I curated with Luke Berglin and Marc Truelove was shut down by the Fire Marshal because the building we were utilizing did not have a valid certificate of occupancy. That experience lit a fire underneath my soul, and when I was informed that the Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) was conducting a meeting to discuss the issues pertaining to the rising of shows being shut down, I jumped on the opportunity and attended. Feeling very emotional, I voiced my concerns and was not expecting to be called upon to be involved as a task force member with the committee.

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However, I decided to be more involved in the field. I was hired to do social media at Taboo Lounge, which is a fantastic venue on the outskirts of the Design District. It was at Taboo Lounge where I developed the show series “Outside the Lines.” I invited acoustic musicians to perform while I painted live and invited other artists in the community to participate and utilitze the shows as a networking platform as well as to get exposure for their incredible talent. My goal was to mentor, advise, and include emerging artists in a safe environment where their talent would be completely appreciated. After losing the space that fateful day in July, I also began my company, The Artsy Monkey LLC as an artist and photographer representative to further nurture emerging talent in the Dallas area.

I was brought in to be interviewed as a partner at Gallery 3 in the Bishop Arts district. Five partners were there and it was a struggle to make things flow. I had to think fast. After the years and months and weeks of doing nothing but painting, organizing, and barely making ends meet myself, I found a business structure to help keep the doors to the gallery open and weed out the negative components in the environment. I produced The Platinum exhibit and then the re-launch of Through the Lens, a photography exhibit consisting of 111 photographs and of which was originally slated to have been at the previous space I lost in July for that October of 2016. At each show, there have been sales and the rent has been paid on time.

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On opening night, the attendance and commitment from the participating photographers was humbling in the most amazing way. All of the photographers that signed up 6 months ago for the original exhibit were still with me, and their commitment gave me the confidence to keep moving forward with my company. My goal is to nurture and foster, educate and inspire, and to believe in the talent I see completely.

I’ve been fortunate to have been mentored by people in the community that understand my vision and passion, to have built friendships and partnerships, strengthen relationships I’ve already established, and build ties within my community. I’ve raised with colleagues, over $23,000 for various charitable organizations and non-profits including Austin Street Center, Guys and Dolls, and Hearts for the Arts.