BY ROSIE PIGA PIZZO
When Brianne Harness pictured opening her own art gallery, she knew she wanted it to be on East Kirkwood. And not just any spot, but in Kirkwood Manor, home of Soma Coffee House & Juice Bar, Laughing Planet Café, and Cactus Flower.
So when Suite 206 above Laughing Planet became available last April, Harness knew she had to claim it. The following month, be.CAUSE art gallery and studio opened, featuring artwork created by Harness, as well as art classes and events in the light-filled space.
Harness is candid about her sense of urgency in opening the gallery of her dreams. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2011, six months after giving birth to her daughter, Paisley. The cancer returned twice, despite treatment, but she’s been in remission since August 2013. “Obviously after dealing with cancer, three times at that, you start to focus on what’s important,” says Harness, 33. “And for me, that’s to be a mom and to be an artist.”
And it also means to give back. Ten percent of all proceeds from be.CAUSE are donated to charities: Peach’s Neet Feet, which donates hand-painted shoes to children living with disabilities and dealing with serious illnesses, and Karmakind, which provides art supplies to kids with cancer. “I’m definitely looking to add local charities,” Harness says. “Causes focusing on kids and cancer are close to my heart.”
Harness specializes in painting portraits, but she also creates painted shoes, jewelry, T-shirts, soaps, pillows, and prints. “I want to keep things affordable and do custom work at a price the customer can agree on,” she says. “You shouldn’t have to be a millionaire to own art.”
Art classes, events, and painting parties for adults and children are also offered at be.CAUSE. “It makes me happy to see people come in and create something they didn’t think they could do,” she says.
“Art can be fun and affordable,” Harness says. “So bring your Soma coffee and a burrito, and we’ll have a good time up here.” The gallery will be open this fall on Thursdays and Fridays from 1–6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 2–7 p.m. For more information, or to request a quote for custom artwork, visit the be.CAUSE website.