Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District
What’s been going on?
Art Lives Here’s successful creative placemaking events such as Better Block project, a series of pop-up galleries and performances, Mount Rainier Interactive, a story collecting platform set up within the community, and Storytelling with Saris, a performance intervention, has led to increased interest in the project. The marketing director for The Shops at Queens Chillum, a small strip mall in our community, approached Art Lives Here leaders about coordinating placemaking projects in and around the vacant spaces at their multi-use shopping center. The Shops at Queens Chillum are funding these programs and events, which directly support local artists and showcase the talents of Gateway Arts District (GAD) artists.
John Paradiso and Tim McLoraine, two GAD artists, transformed the former Fleisher’s Jewelers into a pop-up gallery entitled, Jewel Box. After careful budgeting and generous contributions of lights and wood from other arts organizations and local non-profit, Community Forklift, the result is a large, open, light-filled temporary gallery space showcasing the work of 18 artists from the region. Opening night saw over 150 people pour through the doors, many exclaiming, “I had no idea there was art here!”
Nearly 75 individuals, kids and adults alike, filtered through the pop-up gallery Saturday September 7th for the kick off of the Creative Saturday series. Every September “Saturday Art Lives Here” is providing an afternoon of family friendly events for local shoppers. Local Arts Educators Nehemiah Dixon III and Abigail Lafertte are hosting open, hands-on craft activities; participating artists will be available to speak about their work; Joe’s Movement Emporium provides hour-long movement activities including yoga, jump rope and hula hooping; and several local musicians end the afternoon with a free, live performance.
“The Shops at Queens Chillum is an anchor commercial center for the Mount Rainier, Adelphi and Hyattsville communities,” said Carole Bernard, Executive Director of the Gateway Community Development Corporation. “It is our hope to bring placemaking initiatives to this area in an effort to not only support the major stores located there, such as CVS, Payless Shoes, Radio Shack, Dunkin’ Donuts, and others, but also to highlight the various talented artists who make the Gateway Arts District a unique destination place in Prince George’s County.”
What are we learning?
Bring the arts to the people. Art Lives Here has sought to bring audiences to numerous arts organizations; however it is when the event takes place in locations where individuals live, work, and shop that we’ve had the best attendance. The Shops at Queens Chillum has a constant flow of customers all of whom were exposed to Art Lives Here programming based on their shopping choices. Families stopping by to pick up Chinese food or shop at CVS were drawn into the space by the live music and stayed for the family friendly arts and events.