Columbia artist finds art in cosmetology, expands salon to include gallery and event space – Columbia Daily Tribune

Elizabeth Jordheim releases beauty into the world. She once did so a painting at a time; now she practices her art one person at a time, sending someone out her door looking — and most importantly, feeling — better than they did the day before. 
A year ago, Jordheim opened Serendipity Salon and Gallery in the North Village Arts District. Her story isn’t simply one of a small business surviving a pandemic year, but of a person learning to see art everywhere, in everyone. 
For years, Jordheim moved through Columbia as an artist and educator. Her paintings often integrated color, spirit and sculptural elements. When a health issue prevented her from returning to the classroom, she looked around for next chapters. A friend suggested cosmetology, a field Jordheim never considered.
While not exactly a dream come true, the pivot felt natural right away. Jordheim never sensed herself stepping away from art, but embracing one of its many facets.
“I feel like I do it all day long,” she said. 
Jordheim cut and textured hair out of other people’s salons for around five years. When the pandemic arrived, she sought a means to two related ends: certainty and control. 
Not knowing how many waves of lockdowns might come, she wanted to know where she’d be working. And stockpiling her experiences, she felt she could create a safe, welcoming environment for clients in the middle of an unpredictable time. 
While she cherished working in others’ spaces, she resolved to carve out her own. In August 2020, she opened a first iteration of Serendipity underneath Artlandish Gallery, adjacent to Fretboard Coffee. Her focus was small and specific — one customer at a time. 
This intimate design offered clients unspoken peace of mind. One client and one stylist in the salon at a time, with little room to wonder about every degree of contact carried in by a room full of people. Jordheim also could exert control over air quality, frequency of cleaning and other factors affording degrees of safety.
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After about six months, Jordheim realized Serendipity wasn’t just holding steady, but growing. She seized the chance to move across the street to 1020 E. Walnut St., a space formerly occupied by concert venue The Bridge and PACE Youth Theatre.
With the move, Serendipity became a three-in-one business: salon, art gallery and event space. But Jordheim still sounds unfazed, drawing on her personal history and leaning into her community.
When you walk in, a consignment gallery of small works features around 20 artists. Moving through the space, you encounter the salon, framed by impressive paintings. Jordheim plans to move these larger, dedicated shows through the space every two months or so.
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This month, Kansas City artist Kevin Ritchie’s ample but detailed paintings fill the room; in September, local creator Amy Enderle’s work will move in. 
At the back of the room is a stage Jordheim inherited from previous occupants. She dialed up the wisdom of musician friends to help her select a piano, which now graces the platform, and consider lighting and acoustics. Serendipity has hosted a voice recital and guitar concert, and will open its doors to more happenings in the near future.
But the salon remains the main thing. It didn’t take Jordheim long to study a client and see the art ready to be released. The form has changed, but the same elements present themselves for consideration.
“Hair is all about color and line and form and texture and pattern,” Jordheim said
When Jordheim entered cosmetology school, she quickly found herself a “mother hen” among 18-year-olds, she said. Many of the students didn’t feel comfortable calling themselves artists until they mastered certain techniques, Jordheim observed. She started from a sense of self, then branched into skill. 
“So I did it kind of backwards,” she said.
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Jordheim never could have planned her current station, but now sees a culmination of many years and lessons absorbed. Each time a client enters, sits, then floats back into their daily life, she understands the difference between taking a piece of art home and carrying your body — one you’re truly happy with — wherever you go. 
“Their demeanor is different when they leave. … They just feel lighter and more peaceful. That’s huge to me,” Jordheim said.
Aarik Danielsen is the features and culture editor for the Tribune. Contact him at adanielsen@columbiatribune.com or by calling 573-815-1731.

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