What If the Arts Were Truly Visible in the Community? 7

What if the arts were truly visible in the community?
What if there was an artist-in-residence in every school?  (I’m talking city schools and not just the private schools or set-aside places like the Boston Arts Academy.)
What if there was an art gallery in every school with shows of community artists and of staff and students’ work?
What if a store front across from Franklin Park on Blue Hill Ave., and another storefront in the center of Mattapan Square, and a storefront in the Dudley Business district had a gallery and visible working studio?
What if every public transportation hub had a gallery?
(Shout out to the former Green Street Studios and its successor Axiom
at the Green Street Stop on the Orange Line in Jamaica Plain for doing this.)
What if there were storefronts like Stitch House in Dorchester and Sew Easy  in West Roxbury in every community and you could walk by and see the progress of sewing, knitting, and crochet projects from start to finish?  Think about what it would mean in today’s world for children to see sewing machines and knitting machines, which for too many of them are relics of the past.
What if every child had art classes and other outlets for creative expression in each grade throughout school? (It used to be that way – now only certain schools have it.

What if there were a space where we could see Ekua Holmes creating her masterful collages using repurposed paper that the community donated?

What if we had a dialogue with a photographer like Derek Lumpkins’ in a public space where he would mount his photos and the public would discuss them in real time? 

What if a jewelry artist were to create works from broken and cast-off baubles brought to her from out of the backs of dresser drawers where so many of them lay neglected?  I can see huge glass jars filled with beads disassembled from all of that jewelry gleaming in a store-front window.  I can see an artist showing the process of designing and creating jewelry.

What if there was a bakery in every neighborhood? Some neighborhoods like the South End, Cambridge, and JP are filled with bakeries.  Others don’t have one (unless you count Dunkin Donuts which is not the sort of bakery I mean.)  In Dorchester there is a plant that provides cakes to supermarkets (DutchMaid) but it doesn’t have a bakery store or outlet.  I actually researched it on the internet to see what it does.

What if Laurence Pierce’s African Winter Gallery could come out of the  basement, lovely though it may be, on the side street where he lives that gets little traffic,and enliven the long-barren space that used to be  Ma Dixon’s in the center of Grove Hall?  Think of all the traffic that goes by that storefront that wraps the corner with Washington Street on one side and Blue Hill Avenue on the other!

What if there were a public ticker tape of a poet’s words or a short-story or novel in process that was updated weekly on T cards on MBTA vehicles?

What if art in public spaces showed not only the work but also a photo and bio of the artist?

What if every school in the neighborhoods of Boston had to visit the MFA and the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists and Mass College of Art, etc?

What if there were public salsa, double-dutch, slide, tai-chi demonstrations/classes outside throughout the city when the weather allowed?

The power of art must be unleashed in our communities similar to what Rick Lowe of Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas has done.  Art must not be kept hidden in spaces that you have to know about to find!

Why?  Because I believe art just might help heal the world.


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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7 thoughts on “What If the Arts Were Truly Visible in the Community?

  • Ekua

    Amen. I believe as you do that art may heal the world. In my personal journey it has allowed me to connect with and have communion with people who I may never have never met. Art – music, dance, craft, theatre, and visual art expression in its many forms is a great wide bridge that gives us access to each others roots, hopes, dreams, even fears. Through this sharing, we come to realize that we are more alike than different and we come to appreciate and celebrate the differences that we do have rather than to fear and suppress them.

    After the scenario you describe, imagine thousands of people arriving at work with stories of color and passion and harmony to share.

    It puts a smile on my face to think of it.

    Thanks Candelaria

  • Jim

    I love your ideas and energy for this! This is entrepreneurial art that seeks to propogate itself and encourage a heightened level of activity that makes the whole pie bigger. Art in the schools, yikes. How radical, next thing you know people will be suggesting physical education classes.

  • Candelaria

    Arts, homeeconomics and phys ed were part of my inner-city public school years in St. Louis, Missouri. Now these things are treated as if their only for students in private schools or more affluent schools.
    We’ve been hoodwinked into not demanding more for our children.

    Thanks for your comment.

  • DL

    I heard you read this live at the Nature’s Gems exhibition and I was inspired then. I wish art would be unleashed upon the community, but it’s also not too late. The artists are here, as are the art appreciators and the places to display art. What’s holding us back?

  • Can-Can

    Two big things holding people back in my opinion: money to rent or purchase space and someone who will lead the charge to get it done.
    Why not you, brothuh?