BY ERIN HOLLINDEN
When Brianne Harness left Louisville, Kentucky, after a divorce and three bouts with cancer, she says she quickly found “Bloomington to be such a close knit community, people want to help you and champion you.” Because of that, she and her daughter, Paisley, now 6, quickly felt at home. Harness, founder of be.CAUSE Gallery and Studio, is repaying that kindness by donating a portion of the proceeds from her artwork, classes, and creative events to charity.
Harness, 35, says a minimum of 10 percent of the profits from her studio, located at 314 E. Kirkwood, below The Pourhouse Cafe, goes to charities each month. In the early days she might not have turned a profit at all. “But I often
sent money anyway,” she says. Groups can organize fundraising events with a portion of Harness’ fee going straight to the charity of their choice. She’s worked with groups making murals outside The Village Deli and inside The Pourhouse, and in August throngs of Indiana University freshmen will help paint a tree-themed mural for the Indiana Memorial Union’s remodeled food court. Some mornings the be.CAUSE Studio fills with preschoolers. As children choose aprons and paints, Harness enthuses, “Good choice!” and “Orange is my favorite color!” Shyness turns to smiles, thanks to continuous praise of circles and triangles forming lions’ faces. Children learn patience and confidence along with shapes and colors. When one little artist says of her brother, “He’s not a good artist,” Harness replies, “Everybody’s paintings look different. That’s what makes art so special.”
On the other end of her spectrum of students are injured military service members in the Wounded Warrior Project. Harness says art therapy helps them “readjust to civilian lives with their families.”
Proceeds from be.CAUSE support philanthropies such as cancer research at the Mayo Clinic; Peach’s Neet Feet, which gives hand-painted shoes to kids with cancer and disabilities; and The Pourhouse’s monthly global outreach initiatives. Beneficiaries have also included the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington and Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County.
“I like to be always working toward something,” says Harness, who will begin teaching art at Clear Creek Christian School this fall. Her paintings hang in The Village Deli and The Pourhouse, and will appear at the Bloomington Garlic Fest & Community Art Fair September 3–4 and in the Flashlight Gallery at Ivy Tech John Waldron Art Center in January 2017.
For more information, visit becausebloomington.com.