Art Stop instructor Gina Dunn helps children, including her son, Mack, with an art project during class at the Preston Hollow studio. Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

Art Stop instructors envision a world where children recognize not only local sports stars but local artists, too.

“Everyone knows about Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks,” says studio owner Kathleen Alexander. “But can you imagine if kids could name their local artists?”

An upcoming, juried exhibit aims to remedy this. Art Stop, a private studio in Preston Center that serves neighborhood children age 3 through high school, has teamed up with Rising Gallery for “Inspired,” presenting student projects alongside the work of the professional Dallas artists who inspired them.

In their own ways, toddlers, tweens and teens reinterpret printmaker Debbie Klein’s color theory, sculptor Tyler Aiello’s use of negative space and painter Frankie Garcia’s abstract shapes.

“We’re teaching the basics of art,” says Gina Dunn, an Art Stop instructor and working artist. “You know that the majority of kids who come through here are not going to grow up to be artists, although they could be. But they leave with an appreciation for art.”

The show also helps build up Dallas’ professional art scene, humbling artists like Garcia.

“It brought tears to his eyes to know that kids are studying him,” Dunn says.

Alexander opened Art Stop 13 years ago, and it’s the oldest private art studio in the city. She previously taught at Christ the King School.

“I thought there was a need in the community for a children’s art school,” she says. “I believe art is in every heart.”

Judges for “Inspired” include Dunn, a professional visual artist; Margie Sibrizzi, early childhood education specialist at the Museum of Nature and Science; and Taber Wetz, co-owner of Rising Gallery. The three top students will receive an Art Stop scholarship for additional classes. Alexander says she’s always open to helping families pay for enrollment at the studio. “I have people who come by and say ‘Oh, I can’t afford this.’ I say, ‘Can you get your child here every week? Then, you can afford it. We’ll find a way.’ ”

Art Stop’s exhibit “Inspired” runs April 15-24 at Rising Gallery, 800 Jackson. The opening reception is 5:30-7:30 p.m. April 20. For more details, visit or

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