The ‘building nobody wanted’ is now a piece of ‘art’
Randy Garcia, Pam Jackman and Dort Goodman, all of Sabetha, are the minds behind Urban Hood, which is a place for local artists to display their artwork. Urban Hood is located at 917 Grant Street in Sabetha. According to Garcia, Urban Hood is the “building that nobody wanted” after the original building’s brick wall collapsed in spring 2021, during Midwest Ready Mix’s building demolition.
Garcia reached out to the City of Sabetha, specifically City Administrator Doug Allen and Assistant City Administrator Bill Shroyer, about taking over the building, so the City wouldn’t have to tear it down. According to Garcia, after he talked with the city, city crews came in promptly and cleaned up the collapsed wall.
“I am so appreciative of all the help we received from the city on this building,” Garcia said.
Garcia pursued the building because he has memories of being in there with Al Brey. Therefore, with a mind for repurposing, he decided to turn it into a building which can be used for multiple purposes including displaying local artwork and storing cars, as well as providing produce to those in need.
While the outside of the building has been repaired, the inside is still a work in progress. Currently, Garcia plans to add in spray foam insulation and put up tin and other materials he already has to create the walls on the inside.
As for the name, Garcia said he came up with the name Urban Hood from when he was in a furniture store and saw the name Urbanology on a style of furniture. Also, with the majority of the materials in the building being reused, it gives the building an “urban” feel.
According to Goodman, Urban Hood offers a perspective of the artist in mediums not often attributed to art.
“Art is often seen as painting or drawing when in fact, as we discovered, that origin of the word ‘art’ meant ‘practicing something till you are good at it’ and ‘weapon,’” Goodman said. “Soldiers actually had their stamp on that word. In the 18th century, art began to include painting and drawing.”
Garcia wanted to open a space that invites any kind of artist to display their art no matter what medium they used, including metal work such as welding, blacksmithing, steampunk style, leatherwork, fabric-textiles and woodworking, as well as traditional types of art.
All of the art that is on display is for sale, and all proceeds go directly to the artist.
“Repurposing what many would call valueless items into something unusual and uniquely designed is Randy’s particular delight,” Goodman said.
Goodman said in choosing to use Garcia’s building, they were looking to amp up display design as well.
“People want to buy art but don’t necessarily know how to display it,” Goodman said. “So we decided to showcase all kinds of artistic talent within the framework of an old mechanic’s building. We ultimately wanted to create an event that benefited all our local businesses and visually seed creative talents in those who dare to try their hand at creating something.”
Urban Hood’s first day open was Saturday, June 11, during one of Sabetha’s busier weekends. The weekend included Twisters Car Show, Garrett County Mart’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and the Sabetha Swim Sharks first swim meet of the season.
According to Goodman, during the June 11 show, there were a number of foreign art pieces that were called “street” artists’ work, as well as some older originals. Goodman also did a demonstration of a charcoal drawing.
Artists who were also on display are:
• Rod Gilbert with Scoutsridge Metal Works: Gilbert grew up in Sabetha. He is a welder by career choice, but delights in the beauty of rural areas and designs around those elements in his metal work.
• Debbie Grigsby with CustomLife Co.: Grigsby has a graphic design ability and delights in adding a unique approach to her work.
• Rod Sanner with Sanner Creations: Sanner builds steampunk design lamps that are solely for fundraising efforts, but is now encouraged to do more.
• Ethan Young with Timber Tradition: Young is well known for his woodworking talents and designs, often helping in fundraising events with his work.
• Natalie Deters and Nikki Heiman with 2 Sisters Pottery: Deters and Heiman build sweet and unique pottery designs.
• Tom Suppa with Suppa Leatherworks: Suppa designs purses and leather jewelry.
• McCoy Blacksmiths: They have brought blacksmithing into the 21th century, showcasing the metal element designs that we can still use daily.
• Samantha Arnold: Arnold – our youngest artist and high school student – is the daughter of Toni and Glen Arnold. She may be just beginning her artistic journey, but oh how well she does it!
• Ben Argabright with Argabright Welding: Argabright did the metal heart sculpture.
Goodman said going forward, they would like to open once a month for the summer “to see how the communities welcome the concept first.” The next planned event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 16, during the Northeast Kansas Rodeo weekend.
Coming up, Urban Hood will feature two artisans – Sierra Thomas and Natalie Deters – who will be doing art demonstrations on July 16.
How to get involved
Goodman hopes to get more artists involved and would like to encourage people to own original artwork.
“We encourage people to think about owning originals instead of copies, and local artists are a great place to start collecting,” Goodman said. “We’ve had a great art teacher at our high school, Mrs. [Connie] Herbster, that has encouraged and developed beautiful art talent over the years. We would love to see that continued as the kids grow professionally. Any artist, amateur or not, is invited to display their work, sell their work or even demonstrate their work. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-285-1977.”
When the building is not being used for an artist event, Garcia uses the building to store his cars. The building also houses Poe Construction, who helped revive the building. In addition to the building being used for many purposes on the inside, the outside also serves a purpose – to help those in need with a community garden.
With the help of Sabetha Greenhouse, who planted the planters outside of Urban Hood, Garcia also was able to plant multiple tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, cantaloupe and sunflower plants for a community garden.
“It’s not a lot, but there’s limited space,” Garcia said. “I just want to help provide for those in need, and a community garden was one way to do that.”
The produce is available to anyone who needs it and Garcia is grateful the materials for the community garden were donated by Sabetha Greenhouse.
“I really appreciate the Sabetha Greenhouse donating the plants and labor for planting the flowers in front of the building,” Garcia said.
For more Information
More information can be found at the Chopper’s Urban Hood Facebook page. When asked how “Chopper’s” was added to the Facebook name, Goodman said it was for many reasons.
“Randy had already had a sign – Urban Hood – made for his building as it fit how he sees design, art and old buildings,” Goodman said. “Sabetha is known for the industrial design and they have a heart as their city sign. They are smack dab in the middle of this country in Kansas. So, it fits that Sabetha follows in many ways the story of Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. When he searches for his heart, he finds it. Nic Chopper was the Tin Man’s real name. It seemed appropriate that as we tried to gather the artisans around a central theme of displaying what they passionately love creating in any medium, that we call the event ‘Chopper’s Urban Hood.’”
About Randy Garcia
Garcia was born in California and grew up in Colorado. He has also lived in upstate New York and has traveled a lot of the United States hauling cars. Garcia moved to Sabetha approximately nine years ago and is currently the Sabetha VFW Quartermaster. Garcia is a United States Navy veteran who was in Desert Storm. He is also a bronze star and combat action ribbon recipient.