Guests walking into Amber Rager’s True North art gallery find light-colored walls, music wafting through the room, children digging their hands into sculpting sand, and an ocean theme.
True North, located at 925½ N. Kansas Ave., is filled with art pieces depicting sea animals, pictures of the beach and an interactive area for people of all ages.
Rager, who opened the gallery in February, said she finds the ocean mysterious and peaceful and is inspired by it.
Her gallery has three interactive areas: a coloring wall, a sand sculpting area and a table with multiple paint brushes for people to test. She said the idea for creating an interactive space came from people asking her over the years if she would give their children art lessons.
“I wanted a space where kids could come in and explore that side and I can help them in a more relaxed atmosphere,” Rager said.
Since the gallery's Feb. 23 opening, it has featured Rager's art and that of 20 other artists. Although the gallery features an ocean theme, Rager doesn’t require the artists to follow it. They are allowed to display any art that is child-friendly.
“What my true north is, what my inner compass tells me to do, is not what someone else’s tells them to do,” Rager said.
Since opening, she said, business has been good and she has had children show up at each First Friday Art Walk.
Rager also runs a program out of her studio called Every Child Is An Artist that benefits children in area hospitals' pediatric units. She launched it when she opened the gallery.
Through the program, people can donate art supplies that Rager will take to a hospital.
Stormont Vail was the first recipient of supplies, and Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., will be next, Rager said.
“Art has a way of helping people of all ages cope and get through difficult times,” she said.
The art supplies go home with the patients for sanitary reasons, Rager said.
After hearing positive feedback from the community, she has decided to include Ronald McDonald Houses and domestic abuse centers on her list of art supply recipients.
She also plans to start a new line, called “Protectcean,” of T-shirts, tank tops and reusable bags. Ten percent of purchases will go toward ocean conservation, she said.
Rager said she hopes her studio inspires people to chase their dreams.
“True north should apply to everyone,” Rager said. “We have our own unique and individual compasses guiding us in life, and if we all pushed toward our own dreams, that’s something we would have in common.”