As a Richmond Arts & Culture Commissioner, I continue to see firsthand how art can activate, engage, and unify. As the arts face federal cuts, Richmond once again sets the standard. When leadership fails, the citizens must step in to fill the void, direct the moral compass, and change despair into creative action.
On Saturday March 11th, a fundraiser for water protectors and independent journalists arrested at Standing Rock was held at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center. There was an exhibit, music, poetry, and participatory art project. Money raised was to help pay the continuing legal fees of activists and reporters.
From Mother Jones: “The Standing Rock Sioux reservation sits in the Dakota Praire Grasslands, an endless sweep of elephantine hills once home to millions of members of the Lakota Nation. Today, it’s inhabited by fewer than 9,000 of their surviving descendants, and one of the few places in America where buffalo roam wild. In late July, the Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners informed the Standing Rock Sioux that in five days its subsidiary would begin construction on a section of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) next to the reservation. After that, members of more than 200 Native American tribes and their allies gathered to block what would be America’s longest crude oil pipeline. Their encampments of teepees, tents, and RVs were mostly ignored by the media until private security guards set dogs on protesters and a few journalists were arrested, sparking a national conversation about tribal sovereignty, environmental racism, and police brutality.”
Last Thursday, it was the Spring 2017 Art in Windows opening sponsored by Richmond Main Street and the Richmond Arts & Culture Commission. Artist Tony Tamayo, Ken Osborn, Ellen Gailing, and RYSE Center displayed photographs inspired by Richmond. The exhibit occupied vacant retail spaces in the BART parking garage. The reception was well attended with engaged and thoughtful visitors.
The goal of the Art in Windows program is to activate empty spaces in the community with art. From Richmond Main Street: “Art In Windows brings together artists, merchants, property owners, residents, and organizations from the local community to transform vacant storefronts into living, breathing art spaces that celebrate the rich legacy and history of Downtown Richmond, and to explore the relationship between art and community development…”
I’m Richmond proud. Two local events and examples of how positive creative resistance can engage residents. Small actions can promote change. My home is here and won’t disappoint. Just wait and see…