North Texas Daily

ARThaus opens its doors for budding creatives

ARThaus opens its doors for budding creatives

ARThaus opens its doors for budding creatives
November 01
13:08 2018

By Marilyn Velazquez 

One by one, art enthusiasts take their seat around a blue blanket-covered table in the middle of the living room. They pull out their sketchbooks and sharpen their drawing utensils as they wait for the figure models to arrive.

A couple who will serve as the nude figures arrive, and not much after, they strip in front of the strangers and strike poses that shows their best physique the dimly-lit room.

“OK, this is a 30-minute pose,” an artist says in the room as he sets the timer on his iPhone. “Start.”

Located 1.3 miles away from UNT and residing in this 1,604 square foot house is art history major Zhaira Costiniano, founder and creative director of ARThaus, the first resident venue dedicated exclusively to art in Denton.

Costiniano said she strives to make the art scene as big as the music scene in Denton. ARThaus is a way to channel that. 

“We’re really trying to downplay the ‘party vibe’ of house venues and really focus on the outreach program,” Costiniano said.

After only being open since Sept. 3, Costiniano said the amount of support and love for ARThaus has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s really heartwarming, and it makes all the hard work we put into it to be really worth it,” Costiniano said.

According to the mission statement on, ARThaus strives to break basic, white-walled museum and gallery stereotypes. 

“In art galleries, it’s a very structured way of showing art,” Costiniano said. “You won’t see [the artists’ personality]. I told [the artists] to do whatever they want. We’re all about the artists’ personality and style showing [through].”

With previous experience from curating for the Dallas Museum of Art back in high school, Costiniano fell in love with the behind-the-scenes work of managing a gallery or art space, from organizing exhibitions to executing them for the public.

Costiniano took her talents to the North Texas Review, a literary magazine, and served as the art director for two years. However, because of her eligibility for graduation this December, she would not be able to be a part of the staff this year.

Costiniano said she gained many personal interviews with local artists in Denton during her two years working for the North Texas Review and sparked her closeness to the art community.

Local artists sketch figure models. Mariyln Velazquez

“Through that program, I was able to talk to a lot of artists, [and] we talked about what the artists needed in the Denton community,” Costiniano said. “I decided to start [ARThaus] as a response to answers I got out of that experience.”

Being the first of its kind, Costiniano said she wants to create satellite sites across Denton, helping others to host art shows in their own houses.

“This helps grow and nurture the Denton community,” Costiniano said. “We will provide the [tools] to create their events.”

Evidently, ARThaus has captured the hearts of those interested in art in ways some have never thought of before.

Thalia Gutierrez and Connor Griggs, who served as figure models for ARThaus, are UNT students who heard about the venue from mutual friends of Costiniano.

Gutierrez said she felt surprisingly comfortable modeling nude in front of strangers for the first time. Her boyfriend Griggs was the one to pitch her the idea.

“I’ll definitely come back,” Gutierrez said.

ARThaus also features other events and classes, such as outdoor movie nights and book clubs.

Costiniano said she wanted to incorporate some of her favorite pastimes with others in Denton but will be adding more to the list of things to do in the future once her staff team increases in size.

An example of this is ARThaus educational director Randy Jones, who is currently overseeing museum trips and workshops that will be launching in the near future.  

“A place just for art is really functional in Denton and people are responding to it in a way that’s feeding a hunger that’s in the area,” Jones said.

Since Oct. 6, Jones has been the featured artist in the small gallery inside ARThaus.

As his first ever solo exhibition, Jones said a solo exhibition would have taken much longer to achieve had he not known his connections to ARThaus.

“If I had followed the traditional route, I’d be in like, 20 group shows, then get a solo exhibition,” Jones said.

Anyone is invited to ARThaus events and workshops whether they are an art major or not, Costiniano said.

French major Daisy Tyler was a first-timer who came to participate in the figure-drawing class.

”The experience was really good [and] really professional,” Tyler said.

Despite being a French major, she said ARThaus has given her the opportunity to give her hobby for drawing some good.

For more information and upcoming ARThaus events go to or check out their Instagram @dentonarthaus.To visit the ARThaus,  direct message for the address.

Featured Image: Local artists sketch nude models at an ARThaus event. Marilyn Velazquez

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Amy Roh

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