It’s happening across the country. Whether it’s the WALK (Window Art Local Knowledge) Gallery transforming vacant storefronts on King Street in Charleston, or THE AWESOMEST ART THING EVER that has rejuvenated twelve vacant storefronts in Hartford, artists are coming together to fill windows of neglected city properties with images of hope and possibility. The stated goals of AATE are typical of many of these projects:
Cultivating a new appreciation of the downtown area, encouraging pedestrian activity and engaging the urban environment in a creative dialogue.
I join the DLA and Tipping Paint Artists in holding this vision for Raleigh, and even something more. As residents, we walk by these windows every day and wonder how we can support not just the Raleigh arts and business communities, but create a means of communication and empowerment to Raleigh’s residents of all ages and backgrounds. Given the chance to share their words and images, what would they say?
Artist Candy Chang asked that question in post-Katrina New Orleans when she created a 32-foot long chalkboard wall on which she repeatedly stenciled, “Before I die ________.” Passersby picked up chalk and filled in their answers, which were archived for public record. WebUrbanist favors using everyday materials to create art, for instance covering entire walls with murals made from sticky notes. Possibilities for some downtown Raleigh windows may be as simple as assembling collage pieces with school children or setting up a Moore Square collection station for sticky notes pertaining to a specific theme. Others sites may invite art installations by local artists, or perhaps accommodate movement, videography or music.
Do you remember as a child, the feeling you had when your penmanship paper or finger-painting was posted in the school hallway? There’s something in all of us that feels the pride of ownership when we’ve been invited to leave our mark. Downtown is our front yard. It’s where we meet our neighbors and in some ways, how we define ourselves as a city.
Are you an artist, teacher, or community volunteer, who shares a vision for residents creating community through creativity? Do you own a downtown property that is ripe for a face lift? Add your comment to let us know who you are.
Together we can transform sidelined windows into magnets for inspiration and activity!