House of ideas

SixTwelve is ramping up arts education with its First Friday concert series in the Paseo.

2020 saw a loss of jobs, of homes, of community, and for many even the loss of access to their own art and creativity.

Amy Young, owner and founder of art school and community center SixTwelve in the Paseo, nearly lost all of those things and more.

“I had to choose between selling my house or selling SixTwelve,” Young said. “But I thought about how so many people in the community had invested in this. It’s my dream since I was a little girl, since I was like eight years old, and it’s all my dreams come true. So I just chose to sell my house instead and move in here.”

click to enlarge House of ideas
Brett Fieldcamp
The interior of SixTwelve.

Young bought the space in 2010 and promptly started renovating the historical house to prepare for it to be a communal space focused on fostering a love of art in all its forms: visual, musical, botanical, and even culinary.

“I saved and saved to build that teaching kitchen here,” she said. “Kids can grow food in the gardens here and then bring it in here and learn how to cook it.”

This huge, historic house in the equally historic Paseo was in quite a state when Young first began transforming it into the arts space of her dreams. The work drug on even longer than expected, with SixTwelve’s first student programs not kicking off until 2015.

“It took us five years just to rezone and renovate,” she said. “We had to go through like five different commissions’ staff meetings and hearings and sometimes twice if we didn’t get things approved the first time. It’s a lot of recycled materials and that kind of thing, but it’s all historic preservation. It definitely is a work of love.”

Now that things are reopening and SixTwelve’s student programs are getting back underway, Young wants to start utilizing the building’s beautiful spaces and fortunate placement within the Paseo to showcase the school’s ethos and focus on encouraging new generations toward creativity.

The result is a slate of musical performances and open houses during the Paseo’s First Friday art walks.

October’s event kicked it off with Lust Online and Keathley in the beautiful outdoor garden space, and November is set to feature Labrys and Hannah Edmondson. December’s event is planned to be a bigger winter holiday fundraiser featuring Mallory Eagle and Chelsea Cope.

“I intentionally did it with an all female-identifying, women focus,” Young explained. “Basically because every weekend, every bar is like rock-and-roll camp for boys, and I think we have a whole lot of musical talent in women in this city and in this state.”

Providing an encouraging and empowering place for women to explore and grow their art is a longstanding passion for Young.

“We actually had Rock-and-Roll Camp for Girls here for five years before the pandemic hit. Carter Sampson and I worked together on that for a long time, and so I wanted to do something that continued to support women in music. And of course it’s also kind of an answer to the way we’re treating women in the state right now. I want to help empower girls here to think for themselves and to make decisions. To think about what their voice is and how they use it and to be proud of themselves and not think that they have to be quiet, you know.”

With SixTwelve finally welcoming students and children back into the space to learn how to approach art and how to understand their own creative impulses, Young’s next hope is to start reintroducing the adult artist residencies and children’s art camps that the space used to provide.

If it’s creative, Young wants to explore it, not only from a teaching angle, but with her own experiences as well.

click to enlarge House of ideas
Brett Fieldcamp

She’s currently learning more about cooking herself, and even how to play drums, and is having more fun than ever educating herself in adulthood. It’s all part of her own drive to gain and understand all the different languages of art and creativity to better teach and express it all to students.

“The idea for all of this really came from the fact that I have a background in music and teaching,” she said. “I taught music in an elementary school for eight years and then I moved up here to work at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and then I went back to school for art history. So my background is in art and music and education. The whole time I was teaching, I kept this little list of all the things I would do differently if I ever had my own school and my own space. So this is kind of the result of it.”

click to enlarge House of ideas
Brett Fieldcamp

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