We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Torres and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
As an elementary art teacher, I began teaching art camps for kids during my summer breaks nearly 10 years ago. It was a way for me to work more intimately with smaller groups of kids which, in turn, allowed the campers to explore different art mediums and techniques that are often not possible with a classroom of 24+ students at a time. The most difficult part of my summer camp side-gig was finding a host location that was large enough, affordable, and could take the wear and tear of young kids and messy art supplies. This also meant lugging all my supplies/materials to and from this location every summer and finding creative storage solutions for the rest of the year. So, when my husband and I decided to buy land and build a home in the Cedars neighborhood of Dallas a few years ago, I thought “why not add my very own art studio space?” at the same time. And that was the birth of Cedars Art House.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Cedars Art House truly values the artistic process over the art product and strives to be a welcoming place for artists of all ages & all levels of experience. By encouraging exploration and exposing participants to a wide variety of art mediums, techniques, artists, and experiences, our goal is to guide others in finding their own unique artistic voice. Right now as businesses all over the world are grappling with ways to adapt in the era of COVID, I am proud that we’ve been able to completely rethink and revamp the way we will provide quality art lessons for our students and parents going forward. And although it’s been challenging, we are super excited to be launching a brand new online version of art camps & workshops via Cedars Art House Home Delivery later this summer. As any small business owner knows, flexibility and adaptability is the name of the game!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If you’re planning a trip to Dallas, put the Cedars on your itinerary. Not only is it where I choose to reside & run my business, it’s also the oldest neighborhood in Dallas and home to an eclectic group of artists & other amazing small businesses. Once in the Cedars, you’ll want to check out such iconic establishments as Lee Harvey’s for great beer, burgers, and live bands, Baby Back Shak for some down home BBQ, and Full City Rooster Coffee Roasting Studio for the best cup of java this side of the Mississippi. Next, head to the famous old-school record store Bill’s Records, and if you’re thirsty again, check out Four Corners Brewery for a tasty local brew or grab a glass of vino at Checkered Past Winery & Wine Pub in the basement of the historic Southside on Lamar building. The Cedars is also the home of the annual Cedars Open Studios Tour – a free, one day showcase of the talent, creativity, and the vibrant lives of the artists that work and live in the Cedars – now in its 18th year.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a shoutout to my long-time friend, fellow art educator, and pARTner in crime, Lisa Ricciardelli. Lisa and I met in college at the University of North Texas over 20 years ago and we immediately realized that we shared the same work ethic, the same aesthetic sensibilities, the same love & need for organization, and the same philosophies of arts education. Over the years, Lisa has been an amazing colleague, collaborator, & co-designer and someone who truly brings out my best creative side. Therefore, it was a natural fit when I asked her to co-teach my summer art camps with me in 2015. Over the past 5 years we have continued to join our artistic forces to develop additional unique art workshops and events for kids, adults, and other artists. Even now, in the face of COVID, she and I have once again put our creative brains together to rethink the summer art camp model and how to best offer unique art experiences in this very different world we find ourselves in. The other half of my creative “dream team” is, of course, my husband and co-owner of Cedars Art House, Saul. He’s the one who pushes me beyond my comfort zone, he’s my continual source of support & feedback, and he also just so happens to be a crazy-talented Creative Director & branding expert. Being married and running a business together can be a tricky balancing act, but Saul and his never-ending optimism & patience makes it possible.