Bihl Haus Arts brings healing and change

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That’s how Kellen Kee McIntyre, executive director and co-founder of Bihl Haus Arts, described her first interaction with Army veteran Dan Gamez.

However, within months, McIntyre noted “remarkable progress” in Gamez, who initially struggled to hold a paintbrush due to trauma he suffered in the military.

“He wasn’t shaking the same way, and after a year and a half he’s become a really competent performer,” McIntyre said.

The time in the gallery inspired the ex-soldier to pursue a bachelor’s degree in art and teach others his new craft.

Gamez is one of many people whose lives have been changed working with Bihl Haus Arts, and without McIntyre the organization would not exist.

Driven by her passion for art and community, McIntyre rises to the challenges of leading a nonprofit organization while putting the needs of others before her own.

Born in El Paso, she earned an undergraduate degree in education and fine arts from the University of Texas at El Paso. McIntyre worked as a public school teacher for a few years before deciding to continue her studies at the University of New Mexico. There she pursued her master’s degree and eventually a doctorate. in the history of art. Additionally, McIntyre taught art in Albuquerque for nearly a decade, and during that time met her husband, Eric Lane.

Upon her return to Texas, she and Lane settled in San Antonio because of its architectural diversity. They put their bags down near Fredericksburg Road, where they discovered the Bihl house on the premises of the Sorento senior apartments.

“You never know what’s around the corner,” McIntyre said. “And the Bihl house was literally just around the corner.”

The historic structure is said to be the only authentic German stone residence remaining on Fredericksburg Road. Using stones from an old military barricade that protected the Alamo, George David Bihl built the house in 1920. The structure has passed through several owners and has served a variety of purposes. Eventually it fell into disrepair and after years of neglect and vandalism its fate was uncertain.

“A ‘for sale’ sign had been posted on the property,” McIntyre said. “There were people who wanted to tear it down, and as an art historian I could see its historical value and that it was worth saving.

“We went to a neighborhood meeting to talk about it and that’s when I brought up the idea of ​​a gallery. Six months later, they gave me the keys.

That was 17 years ago, and since then McIntyre has held over 100 art exhibitions and other programs at Bihl Haus Arts. She credits Lane, who serves alongside her as the organization’s president, with much of the nonprofit’s success.

Yolanda Leal, chief guide emeritus, has been with the organization for six years.

“You feel very comfortable with everyone here,” Leal said. “You feel welcome and you feel like you belong.”

McIntyre’s path to art was born out of loss.

“I had a number of deaths in the family,” she said. “When I was stumbling, trying to decide what to do after high school, art gave me great relief, focus and direction that I didn’t have.”

She views art as therapy and thinks it’s the best way for people to recharge and relax, so when she was approached by someone who wanted to take classes, McIntyre saw an opportunity. to make a difference. She noticed that the senior community was underserved, and they became her primary focus.

“Retirees and even veterans can be isolated in homes,” McIntyre said. “Comforting them through difficult times and using art to help them heal is an incredible sense of accomplishment.”

Although she plans to retire soon, she is still considering what is best for the organization and its artists.

She hopes whoever replaces her will also recognize the importance of Bihl Haus Arts and remain dedicated to its growth.

“You can tell the health of a city by looking at the health of its arts community,” McIntyre said. “If your arts community is thriving, then your city is thriving. Art heals. Art saves lives.

Airman Kendall Stuckman, from NATO Headquarters Belgium, was part of a team with Airman 1st Class Lauren Cobin from MacDill AFB, Fla., Senior Airman Amanda Flower-Raschella from Hurlburt Field, Fla. Airman 1st Class Jacob Wood of Royal Air Force Lakenheath, UK, and Tyler Prince of JBSA-Randolph.

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