Access Art Alley Opens in Discover Denton Welcome Center

Published on: Sun, Jun 03, 2018

The Discover Denton Welcome Center (DDWC) on the square will turn two years old on July 4th, and my, my, how it’s growing up. As is true with any new life, it’s taken a village to get the DDWC from crawling, to walking, and finally running, a success other cities are studying now and hoping to emulate.

That village I’m talking about is Denton: the City of Denton who recognized the need for a touch-point to maximize the Denton experience; citizens and visitors who have been patient and encouraging while we’ve worked out newbie kinks; and businesses who continue to invest because they believe in the DDWC’s mission.

Staff of the Discover Denton Welcome Center, AccessBank Texas and the Greater Denton Arts Council celebrated the official ribbon cutting of the Access Art Alley on Friday, June 1. Pictured from left to right are Jake Laughlin (DDWC co-manager), Michelle Houston (AccessBank Texas), Georgina Ngozi (GDAC Executive Director) and Jason Adamson (AccessBank Texas). (Photo courtesy of AccessBank Texas)

Business and community partners are financial sponsors who collectively represent 1/3 of the budget required to operate the DDWC (the other two-thirds coming from the City and merchandising). They want the obvious benefits of having their brands in front of 6,000 walk-in visitors every month, plus the thousands reached through our social media channels and But it’s more than that. They realize that by investing in the DDWC, they give back to Denton’s tax base through tourism, making them the force behind the DDWC’s dynamic, ever-changing space.

This past Friday afternoon, the Denton Chamber hosted a ribbon cutting for a new attraction. AccessBank Texas is the sponsor behind this most recent evolution inside the DDWC, a creative collaboration between the bank and the Greater Denton Arts Council (GDAC).

“Art is facilitating relationships that need to be forged in our community,” said GDAC’s Executive Director Georgina Ngozi. “This simple, intimate corridor in our DDWC is now showcasing art. It’s forging a relationship between a bank and an arts organization, the local community and with tourists who come here. It is a community-building foundation.”

Ngozi refers to the DDWC’s brochure display area that now doubles as a small art gallery featuring works by local artist and painter Kimberley Dietrich.

“Through Access Art Alley, Kimberley can become more well-known. And she’s just the first, because we are going to change out the artist every quarter,” Ngozi said.

DDWC Co-Manager and GDAC board member Jake Laughlin birthed the idea of adding fine art exhibits to the DDWC. When he proposed the concept to GDAC several months ago, he was met with enthusiasm, but also a wall. GDAC did not have funds to bring it to fruition.

“Jake took it upon himself to secure the support. That’s where AccessBank Texas came in,” Ngozi explained.

AccessBank Texas was founded in Denton on the premise that the needs of the community are a bank’s first concern. Jason Adamson, Senior Vice President of Commercial Lending, says AccessBank Texas seeks to honor this commitment through community partnerships.

“When Jake approached us about being a partner with GDAC, we were honored and eagerly accepted the invitation,” Jason said. “Showcasing local artists and their unique creations is a privilege and should be celebrated and explored for the social relevance of its day. We hope to generate insight into and enjoyment of local artists in Denton through the Discover Denton’s Access Art Alley.”

Kimberley Dietrich poses in front of her art during the AccessBank Texas Art Alley Ribbon Cutting Friday, June 1. (Photo by Isabel Deniz)

Jenny Bates is GDAC’s Exhibits Coordinator. She reached out to local artists through GDAC’s members and those of collaborative partners Artists Enclave of Denton County and Denton Gallery, an online, virtual exhibit space. Criteria is loose but limited to 2-D works of neutral topics appropriate for all audiences and complimentary to the DDWC’s vibe.

“Kimberley is not an artist by profession. She’s an accountant. She pursues art on the side, which I think is important because it represents Denton artists really well. There are a lot of people who do two different jobs here: the thing they are passionate about and the thing they do for a living,” Jenny explained.

She went on to say that she thinks everyone in the community cares about the arts in some form or fashion. “We want to show what Denton is: an arts community. That’s what’s great about AccessBank Texas stepping up and taking the initiative to put this together.”

In one of the best elevator speeches I’ve ever heard, Jenny summed up the ultimate goal for Access Art Alley along with her vision as the ongoing exhibits coordinator for GDAC and the DDWC space. “Art is a way of communicating ideas that people may not be comfortable talking about in any other capacity. I’ve come to realize that art is a platform for discussion. What story is the artist trying to tell? What do people want to know? What story does the community need to hear right now?”

Find out in the Access Art Alley, open whenever the DDWC is open, seven days a week.