Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District

An arts district is the artists who live and work in it!

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 An arts district is the artists who live and work in it!

IMG_2762This has been our guiding motto as we wrap up more than a year of programs to bring attention to the producing artists of our arts community. To celebrate the core creative ones, Art Lives Here kicked off a series of free photo shoots in July for Gateway Arts District (GAD) artists, defined as individuals who live or work in the GAD. Initially, we called it a “cattle call” as we were literally attempting to corral the numerous artists we had met throughout our Art Live Here journey (whether they applied for funding or showed up at an event). We even put a cow on the front of the postcard we distributed to organizations throughout. The response was thin. Then we called it a “Portrait Day”, playing off of notorious school portrait days from elementary and middle school years. Still, the dates were inching closer and the artists were not signing up. We finally settled on calling it, rather wordily, the “Art Lives Here FREE Artist Photo Shoot” and on our blog, invited artists to come out, get a portrait done, and bring their creative touchstone, whether a piece of art, tools of their trade, a certain outfit, whatever inspired them. Artists would receive multiple high quality digital images.

Using the free online software “Slottr” we filled our first two photo shoot days within a week. The first day, July 16th rolled around, and we waited anxiously. Photographer Marketa Ebert had set up in Joe’s Movement Emporium’s theater, the lights were set to perfection, the photo release and info forms were laid out, chairs for waiting artists set up, we just needed the first artists. And boy did they come rolling in. Touting instruments, paintings, costumes, jewelry, paintbrushes, pens, moleskin notebooks, books, antlers, and more, they rolled in to our photo shoots where they smiled, frowned, moved, grooved, grinned, laughed, and expressed themselves.

 IMG_2569The artist response was overwhelmingly positive. “This is so great that you’re doing this,” “Thank you for this,” “This is such an amazing service,” “Do more of these!” Due to the popularity, additional shoots were added at different arts venues including Art Works Now, Brentwood Arts Exchange, Mount Rainier Artist Lofts, and Vigilante Coffee. The project involved six photographers who also live or work in the Gateway Arts District: Matt Carl, Marketa Ebert, Evan Wilder, Krista Schlyer, Valerie Philips and Charles Steck. We’ve met and documented 150 artists, some who have recently moved to the area, some who have been residents here for years. They range from mid-career to just starting out artists. We’ve met aerialists, writers, poets, opera singers, teaching artists, painters, sculptures, dancers, crafters, glass blowers, metal welders, the list goes on. 

The output will be a final Art Lives Here magazine, a poster of the images by collage artist Matt Carl, a banner of artist images on an upcoming development property, and a slide show to be shared online and at events to demonstrate the breadth of artists that are the foundation of our arts community. 



About neenajoe

Joe’s Movement Emporium is a cultural arts hub that acts as a catalyst for creativity and economic opportunity for all through productions and programs in education, artist services and work readiness. Located in the town center of Mount Rainier, Maryland within the Prince George’s County Gateway Arts District, the organization supports and promotes creative projects of local artists and community groups. For additional information on programs and events, please visit

2 comments on “An arts district is the artists who live and work in it!

  1. ellynweiss
    November 28, 2014

    Neena, this was such a fabulous project. Thanks to you and all of those who made it happen. I am so looking forward to the poster.
    Peace and love

    • neenajoe
      December 11, 2014

      Matt Carl has sent us some pure awesome-ness, looking forward to being able to share!!!

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