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Art House North

In May 1998, I requested a year’s leave from the school where I was teaching. I actually tried to quit, but Principal Clausen offered me a leave instead, a grace-time that made the transition from high school teacher to troubadour sound more reasonable. My husband, Troy, left his job a few months later and we were off. There are no words to describe that time. If Troy and I were Hansel and Gretel, the breadcrumbs were loaves, plentiful and littering the path. I still managed plenty of fear and doubt, but the signs were unmistakable: This Way!

A couple of years ago it dawned on me that my children did not get to witness this season in our lives. To them, we have always been out singing and playing music.  I wanted them to understand the journey that brought us here, so I climbed up into the top bunk of their bed and recollected every miracle and every moment of divine assurance along the way. The boys asked questions and cried when I cried remembering the generosity of God and so many friends. So when the loaves started to show up again this winter, we did not hesitate to bring them in on it: “Remember the stories we told you? Pack your bags and get ready!”

But before I get to where we're going, I have to revisit one more place we’ve been. In 2003 we recorded a portion of The Other Side of Something at The Art House — home, studio, and much more to producer Charlie Peacock and his wife (and author) Andi Ashworth. We were finishing up a much-needed maternity break after the birth of our second son. We were in desperate need of a vision, a template for the whole artist’s life. A bit heart-numb and recovering from new-artist-itis, I remember the surge of joy I felt at first seeing the Art House — church and gardens — place cultivated.

Our initial conversations there left us feeling challenged and validated at the same time. It was as if something in the air transformed our weary stories of life on the road into stories of the blessing and stewardship of storytelling. I remember walking to the car after our first visit saying, ”I get it, I get it, I get it . . .” I’m not sure I could have recited the mission of the Art House at that moment, but Troy and I had caught a vision of the revitalization of church/place, the open-door life, and the ongoing dialogue about the way of Jesus, faith, and art.  

In 2007 Troy and I came across a church for sale, and in passing I joked, ”Art House North?” But it wasn’t really a joke, and we both started to think about what that might look like for us and for our family. A year later we ran the idea by Charlie and Andi, who were already starting to develop ideas for an Art House in Dallas. Their enthusiasm was encouraging to say the least, and we started to look for properties in earnest. It was another three-year process of walking through houses, dilapidated mansions, old schools, and warehouses before finally, in January of this year, we found it — a 100-year-old church in St. Paul with all the right bones to become Art House North!
As Troy’s and my gifts and abilities are different from those curating the other Art Houses, we are excited to see what type of personality emerges from our Art House North, but the heart will be the same — cultivating creative community for the common good. We have more ideas than we can bring to life, and we have such an incredible group of friends and fellow artists here who will collaborate with us as well. We are excited to add this local endeavor to our life on the road. Troy will be the Director of Art House North**, and I will work alongside him as always.  

Of course, all of our friends and neighbors want to know, what is it? What does Art House North do? I don’t know. What can it do? I’m excited to find out, and we hope you are too.  

Sara Groves is a singer-songwriter residing in St. Paul, MN. With her husband, and avid stamp collector, Troy, they attempt to raise their three children with lots of grace, mercy, and idle threats.

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Reader Comments (18)

Deliriously happy to have read this!

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

This is very cool. Many Blessings on this new endeavor.

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkatherine

You guys are such an in inspiration to live life. You are two of my long-time heros in this way. This is fantastic! I can't wait to see what comes next. Congratulations on stepping into this new adventure.

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Petrucco

Oh!!! That's all I can say!!!! :) I can't wait to watch this come to life...Please let me know when you're ready for the Wells fam to make a visit. We camp well.

love to you guys...

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChrista


You and Troy are ahead of me in this process, as I have wondered and prayed about whether I could someday bring about the advent of an Art House West here in Northern California. Congratulations on finding a space–it looks lovely. For me, it remains a germ of an idea, but one I think about often...

-Brent B.

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrent Bourgeois

Oh Sara, this sounds amazingly wonderful. I have been blessed by your music since 2000 - you are so gifted. I know God is going to use you and Troy for great things at Art House North. I'm still a little fuzzy on the function of it but God is not. :) He is right there with you guys.

Can't wait to here more updates about what God is doing in St. Paul.

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

Praying with y'all as you start on this new adventure! May God bless every thing you put your hand to!

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Incredible. Can't wait to hear how this develops. What an exciting journey you have ahead of you!

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJon S.

This is AWESOME. I can't wait to see the fruit of what He has planted there!!

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteranna rendell

Welcome to St. Paul, Sara and Troy. (And Ruby, and Toby and Kirby.) We are so very delighted to have you.

Ken and I are going to the Nook for a burger tonight. (As a St. Paul girl you will need to become familiar.) If you see us drive by, it's just so I know where to leave the cookies.

This is all just so amazingly wonderful. There are no words. (But I will think of some.) So very happy for you.

:) H.

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHelen Martin

HI Sara!

I'm Claire Kayser, twin sister to Carole Foret in Athens, Alabama who was with Sister Grace. I am so excited about Art House North as I live in St. Paul not too far away! I, like Carole, am a painter and photographer in St. Paul. I'm excited to see how Art House evolves and would to be a part if the opportunity arises. Would love to meet you and Troy sometime! We are big fans of your music, and we are also friends of Jason and Taya Gray! So much talent between you two!

Hope you have a smooth transition into St. Paul, and hope to meet someday!

God bless!

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaire Kayser

Congratulations! I'm excited to see how this will turn out.

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharissa Jacobson

Is this a joke? I was just thinking a few days ago that it would be so awesome to put an Art House in the Twin Cities area!

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNolan Soltvedt


July 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDale Urevig

I have been watching and waiting since Summit. SO EXCITED!!

July 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndie

Troy and Sara, I am so excited to continue to witness what God has done with the journey He has brought you down.
Think about you guys offten and am praying for this new chapter.

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Kauffman

Praise God!! The Art House sounds exciting!! There's no telling what The Great Artist will do as He continues to open amazing doors for you!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl Ricker

I found my way to Art House America by way of Sara Groves' website when I realized I am in love with her music. I have been longing for a community of artists like this for years - somehow Art House has a very real feeling to it, unlike any other groups I've come across. So happy to see something like this in existance - now longing to visit Nashville. :)

July 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

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