Interview with Chris Smith
I recently had the pleasure of going to a paint party where I met Chris Smith, founder of Gallery to Go, based in Ft. Thomas, KY. I was impressed with everything about the party, from the concept (Chris brings everything you need to create a painting) to Chris’ easy manner in instructing all of us in our painting. So impressed that I later met with Chris so we could talk about her business, and some of her favorite parties. What follows are her thoughts and why these parties are some of her favorites in Chris’ own words.
The mission of Gallery to Go is to bring people together while pushing people out of their comfort zone. The paint parties are fun but often have a greater purpose as well. One friend described it as a paint party with a heart. They bring out the potential in people, how they relate to one another and often how they see themselves. It’s not just a party but an experience.
The Parties The thing that I think is very interesting is you really start to see people’s personalities. You can really see the Type As and the Type Bs. If you’re trying to make it perfect, you’re missing it. Cause it’s not about that perfect painting at the end. It’s about the party, not about the painting.
Life needs to be more like that. It’s got to be about the journey. It’s about experiences, this night together with friends, family members, whoever. It’s not about getting a piece of art up on the wall. I’ll have people who have that expectation, that they’re going to put something above their mantle and then you’ve immediately squeezed the fun out of it.
This party was for a blended family…it’s his kids and her kids. All of their kids together with her did this for him for Christmas. They were teenagers and teenagers are a hard crowd. You’re not going to get a “woohoo!” But I could tell that they really liked it and thought it was a cool experience.
Crossroads church recently built a building called City Link. Anybody who needs a job or needs help can go there. They have a person from every agency in the city dealing with poverty. We decided to do a picture that came together. It all came together and made a butterfly: they are transforming the city like a butterfly transforms.
Each person had their own canvas, and couldn’t see what their partner did. They had ½ of a tree. When the canvasses came together it was the four seasons. In your marriage you’ve got to go through the seasons. You may be in winter right now but there’s a spring one day. Put in the time, there’s spring on the way. It may not look always perfect, but it’s still good because it comes together.
I did one for an agency called Cincinnati Works. They all did a main picture of downtown and then it had hands down at the bottom that made a heart. In the heart we put a thumbprint. We talked about how there are all these people with all this stuff going on but you have to think about the thumbprint and how different every single individual is.
Ronald McDonald House
Everybody worked on the canvas at different times. It was a big tree and they had families of animals in the trees, and then had these hands across the bottom: it was out of the work of your hands that these families have a home at the Ronald McDonald House. We put conversation cards in front of the canvas and they worked on the canvas with a partner. Every time they went up to the canvas, they immediately wanted to paint, but I told them, “What I want you to do is talk to that person that’s right in front of you and go through that conversation card”. Everyone is so focused on getting the picture to look perfect. That task will get done. That picture will come together. It’s the individual that you’re standing in front of that’s way more important than that task.