Neighbor, make it happen!

It’s nice when someone famous or powerful assists in making things better locally.

It’s also nice when others get involved and not wait.

I volunteered at the recent (e)merge Art Fair in Washington DC. As an artist I wanted to experience meeting other artists in exhibition mode. How artists come across to the average buyer or browser and maybe learn something more about the dynamics of social interaction.

Since I was a volunteer, I got to know as many artists as I could and got them to explain their work. I did this in order to point people to their respective booths when asked.

One of the booths I went to was occupied by Beth Hansen and Ann-Marie VanTassell, together with other members of Pleasant Plains Workshop.

Their enthusiasm was indeed infectious as they invited a number of people to take part in their screen printing demos. I did a demo and got to keep the screen printed scarf they helped me make.

It became a nice gift for my wife.

After the Art Fair, we kept in touch by email and I found out that we also have the same interest: children.

I teach children in church the Bible and they teach children and others in their neighborhood art program.

I also found out that the two ladies had met at the Corcoran College of Art + Design in 2007.  Beth had studied printmaking and Ann-Marie photojournalism.

After working for a few years and trying to make art in the city, Beth and Ann-Marie both began to feel the struggles that many young artists face.

Ann-Marie said: “We needed studio space, but we could barely afford rent.  We also missed the sense of an artistic community that we felt while in school.  One day we just decided to band together and make things happen!”

She continued: “We started The Arcade, which is a non-profit dedicated to keeping the arts accessible in our neighborhood.  We do a lot of pop-up workshops with different after school programs focusing mainly on print mediums, but some painting and sculpture gets mixed in there, too.  We are most proud of our after school art program we started with DASH (District Alliance for Safe Housing)”

Beth reminded me we also feel passionately about preventing domestic violence.

On the platform of life we all find ourselves, it’s good to meet like-minded people.

Check out these game-changers, Beth and Ann-Marie here:

Published by Ken Gwira

Ken Gwira is a self-taught artist living in the USA. Aside from wood sculpture, he uses words and images to help people see life through a different lens [o].

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