On Thursday February 27, the participants of the 2014 Art Lives here programs were announced by Joe’s Movement executive director Brooke Kidd at Urban Eats in Mount Rainier, MD. Kidd introduced artists Tamara Wellons, Becky Boland, Artis Moon Amarche and Greg Slade who spoke about their individual projects.
Tamara Wellons’ powerful acapella gave the audience a brief teaser of what crowds could expect from her upcoming performances. Next, artist Becky Boland discussed her proposed “guerilla seed” project which seeks to beautify vacant lots along Route One with various flowers and plants.
Artis Moon Amarché discussed the interactive quality of her structured improvisation program which will take place at several locations through the Gateway Arts district this summer.
Lastly, painter Greg Slade, a Mount Rainier native, will offer workshops for youth and seniors at the Brentwood Arts Exchange. Slade will then gather the artwork produced in these classes and create an arts installation that will simultaneously compile and juxtapose the work of students from opposite sides of the demographic pyramid.
Also in attendance were Gateway CDC executive director Carole Bernard, Hyattsville CDC’s economic development coordinator Justin Fair, Brentwood Arts Exchange acting director Phil Davis and Art Lives Here project manager Neena Narayanan.
Art Lives Here is funded in part by an ArtPlace America grant , the same organization that funded Deanwood X Design and LUMEN8ANACOSTIA in 2012 via the DC Office of Planning. Other Art Lives Here participating organizations include the MNCPPC, the Gateway CDC, Joe’s Movement, Red Dirt Studios, the Mount Rainier Business Association, the Prince George’s African American Museum and the Prince George’s Arts council.
Here is the full list of grant recipients and their proposed artistic programming (descriptions courtesy Art Lives Here):
Visual Artist Kenny George seeks to “connect the residential history of the Mt. Rainier neighborhood to it’s current state while addressing values of craftsmanship, pride in ones home as an expression of their successes” through his repurposed Americana-style “functional and aesthetic objects that make use of traditional and contemporary building materials” from the likes of local favorite, Community Forklift. George’s work will be on display at the Mount Rainier Better Block on April 25th.
Lesole’s Dance Project (LDP) is a “professional dance company grounded in Southern African heritage who uses innovative choreography and an indigenous/contemporary movement vernacular to engage cultural exchange through touring, education and performance.” LDP will create a series of community engagement opportunities leading up to, during, and after Mount Rainier’s Better Block on April 25th including dance and drumming workshops, a parade, and local music by Adinkra Cultural Arts Studio.
Mount Rainier local photographer and environmentalist Krista Schlyer seeks to change a community’s sense of, and responsibility for, the place we call home on the Anacostia watershed. Through a series of pop-up gallery shows and educational artists talks around her striking photographs of the plant and animal life in and around the Anacosita watershed, Schlyer hopes to grow the heart of the community to begin, through knowledge and understanding, to take actions to heal the damage done by pollution and neglect of this ecological asset. This traveling exhibition opens at 39th Street Gallery in March.
Daydreams + Nightmares Aerial Theatre (DNA Theatre) demystifies and invites the community to experience the magic of aerial dance through The Aerial Experience. On May 10th during the Gateway Arts Districts Open Studios Tour DNA Theatre artists will rig Joe’s Movement Emporium to give anyone of all ages a chance to fly whether 8 or 80.
Dance a Home is a daring new project organized by Maida Withers Dance Construction Company’s team of improvisers and choreographers. Using the “homes tour” concept as a jumping off point, the Dance a Home project seeks to reconstruct the idea of place by bringing the artistic experience into the home, whether the home of your average citizen or an elected official. Dance a Home will take place during the spring, the community will be solicited through a lottery process to host a dinner party during which a Dance a Home choreographer will create an improvisational, audience integrated piece.
Red Dirt resident artist and Art Works Now arts education instructor Leslie Holt creates meaning within the mundane with her Laundry List project. Spring workshops Saturday afternoons will invite Bunker Hill Laundromat customers to take some time during their wash or dry cycle to pause, consider and create. By inviting customers to turn their “laundry list” or to-do list into poems and inscribe/illustrate them on a laundry bag, Holt seeks to activate a space meant for chores with creative energy. Images and poems generated from the workshops will inspire a final permanent piece to be installed in the Laundromat come fall.
On May 3rd singer, songwriter, performer, and educator Tamara Wellons will fill the Gateway Arts District with her “hypnotic blend of soul, jazz and soulful house varieties” with six hours of continuous half hour performances throughout local beauty and barber shops. This pop-up performance series, Beauty Built on Love, is meant to spread the concepts of “embracing love, celebrating each other, and being confident in who you are” and includes a give-away card that allows customers to download Wellons most recent album.
Improv Arts, Inc. will bring “Acts of Arriving” to Mount Rainier, a multisite project that invites individuals to “reflect on their connection to place by exploring the questions ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘Where are you now?’ through movement, music, text, visual art, and video.” This two-part experience will begin with a spring workshop of drop-in activities including the creation of a neighborhood map, group dance sessions, and an aspiration wall for the community, plus interviews about connection to place. The second part pulls together the creative collateral from the first for an interactive performance that gives audiences a better “understanding of place, connection, and community.”
Two incredible organizations are coming together for and arts and musical experience that will culminate on April 25th during Mount Rainier’s Better Block. Beloved Community Mosaics will create two mosaic signs for the Cultural Academy for Excellence that will be featured on during the Mount Rainier Better Block. The project seeks to involve all members of our multigenerational and multicultural community in improving “neighborhood quality of life, encourage[ing] creative activity, fost[ing] strong community identity and a sense of place and contribut[ing] to the local economy by training youth in the skill of tiling, mosaic art, and project management.”
Shuffle & Stomp, Shuffle & Stomp:
Shuffle & Stomp is born out of “collaboration between traditional musicians and percussive dancers to develop and share a creative, joyful dancing atmosphere among themselves and with their neighbors.” By hosting social dances and lessons in vacant or under-used spaces, this group hopes to “foster a sense of fun, community spirit for the area, while also providing a venue for the artists to share their work.”
Boundless Synergy is a “pick-up collective of seasoned professional performing artists coming together for an improvisational, experimental performance that invites the public to participate”. Headed by Artis Moon Amarche the group includes Hermione Rhones, Latteta Theresa, and Marc Blackwood plus additional guest artists per show. These talented individuals will provide free performances across the Gateway Arts District that include elements of spontaneous audience collaboration and artist talk-backs.
Jonah Blaustein, Piano Reincarnation:
The Piano Reincarnation project seeks to empower local artists to harvest worn out, beyond repair pianos into art. Blaustein learned that one local piano moving company dumped 50-60 pianos in landﬁlls every year. This project seeks to celebrate the “sentimental value and beauty of pianos” by teaching artists how to dismantle and salvage the instruments and enable them to “transform (or reincarnate) worn-out pianos or their parts into something different.” Brentwood Arts Exchange will showcase the final piano pieces in their gallery in the Fall.
McDonough, nationally known visual artist, enlivens the Gateway Arts District with THE CHARD SPOT, a “holistic and multifaceted project that emphasizes the relationships between DIY local artisinal food economies, environmentalism, and progressive artistic practices.” Part of the Brentwood Better Block series, THE CHARD SPOT juxtaposes local food culture with contemporary art and educates the community about both.
Kleps will create a series of public art and art education for the Brentwood area. The intended series of art has a nature theme, but can be flexible based on the needs of the patrons. The inspiration for this project came from a desire to bring themes of nature to an urban area. Many residents in/near the Brentwood region love nature, but do not get to interact with it as often as they desire. This project would interject images of flowers, insects, animals, and other nature themes into people’s commutes that they might otherwise not get to see these themes on a daily basis Themes includes: Bugs and Worms, Ant Colony, Electric Landscape, Animal Jumble, and Hands.
Weiss will create visual snapshots of the state of mind of communities within the Gateway Arts District. She will select four colors, each representing a number on a scale of 1-4 corresponding to an answer to the question: “How do you feel about your future?” (Interestingly, research shows that colors affect mood but that responses are not uniform across cultures.) E.g.: the number 1 and its associated color will correspond to “pessimistic”, the number 4 and its color to “optimistic” and 2 and 3 to the feelings in between. We will make 4 groups of cards, one in each color. Each board should suggest, by the prevalence of the various colors, the collective “mood” of a neighborhood on a particular day. Depending on where and in what circumstances the project is repeated, the boards may reveal differences between areas and parts of our population. After the boards are completed, they may be exhibited in public locations throughout the district – libraries, town halls, fire stations, etc., with explanations of the intention of the project and its results. Our audience is not limited to the people who actually participated, but is the community at large.
Borlan will create a temporary public art sculpture, using tires either found or donated. She will create a screen like structure by cutting the tires in half and layering them on top of one another. The tires will be covered in astro-turf, a material that requires no maintenance but still alludes to an original topiary inspiration. She envisions the structure being 5’-6’ high and 12’-16’ long. The tires will be weighted to allow for climbing on the structure. Adults and children visiting the Brentwood Farmer’s Market will have the opportunity to stop and interact with the sculptures. Becky also set up outdoor public stations to create “seed bombs”: small balls of dirt that contain peat and seeds of local wild flowers. The idea is that people can help make and take these seed bombs and then plant them where they want in the community to beautify abandoned lots, traffic medians, or other blighted somewhat inaccessible spaces. People can create the flower bombs and access posters and other educational materials that show the kinds of flowers they’re planting, the best ways to use and ensure the flower bombs grow, and types of spaces where flower bombs can be used.
Glasser will serve as production coordinator for the Brentwood Better Block project. She will work with Gateway CDC to plan and manage the arts-related activities for the event, serve as point of contact for participating artists and craft vendors.
This local emerging artist will work with Art Lives Here partner Brentwood Arts Exchange, the North Brentwood Community Center, and the Gwendolyn Britt Senior Activity Center – all of them facilities of Prince George’s Parks and Recreation – to take a series of art lessons to Gateway Arts District youth and seniors encouraging them to document their the places and people that make this community home.
Local band Inner Loop teams up with Art Lives Here partners Red Dirt Studio, the Brentwood Arts Exchange, and Prince George’s Parks and Recreation’s Xtreme Teens for the return of the Southside Music Series with an additional skateboarding component. This three-part music series takes place during the summer featuring high-energy performances of jungle funk music by Inner Loop as a summer celebration backdrop to local skateboarding competitions. This project seeks to “honor the planners/builders of the Mt. Rainier Skate Park and the ideas of cooperation and compromise that are part of a skater’s code”.