Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District
In the winter of 2012 I was approached to be a part of Art Lives Here. Stuck in a lonely office doing database entry for a worthy, but not arts-related, non-profit I jumped at the offer. In January 2013, Art Lives Here launched.
Art Lives Here has allowed me the privilege of getting to know a few of the great minds and creative talents that make the Gateway Arts District (GAD) tick. I’ve been in artists homes & studios, lingered in administrative offices of community development corporations and arts organizations, attended meetings, presentations, reflections, coffees, happy hours, openings, receptions, and more. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of incredible arts opportunities the GAD offers.
Out of the hundreds of artists and organizations that live and work in the Gateway Arts District, Art Lives Here has only been able to touch a small section. There’s so much more Art Lives Here has yet to touch. However as the momentum continued, more and more artists and organizations began to seek out Art Lives Here and become a part of a powerful brand which is owned by all of us.
At its most basic, Art Lives Here sought to fund and assist artists with powerful ideas to enact change in their hometown of the Gateway Arts District through their work. Through a request for proposals process, we had the opportunity to see just how big these artists can dream. Some proposals were for small changes that would create big impact, others sought to fulfill a big picture vision with little thought to executive details. At the end of the day, projects were chosen by a panel of representatives based on artistic merit, sustainability, and viability.
Art Lives Here also funded a small but powerful communications team, led by Michelle Lee of Mingus Communications who first suggested “Art Lives Here”. Under Lee’s direction, a recent graphic design graduate, Justin Bost, was hired to create the Art Lives Here logo and style guide. Colors, fonts and arrow styles and sizes were chosen with a careful deliberation to represent the powerful grassroots movement of artists who were dedicated and inspired to do their work in this community of the Gateway Arts District.
Throughout the next two years, Lee leveraged resources and worked with the creative minds of the Gateway Arts District to come up with and execute some pretty spectacular brand strategies. These included, but were not limited to, developing a style guide for the brand, setting up free artist photoshoots an creating a robust and active social media presence.
One of the most rewarding experiences during my time with Art Lives Here was organizing and participating in the Gateway Arts District photo shoots. In an effort to celebrate the core of the GAD, our creative ones, we kicked off a series of free photoshoots in July of 2014. What started as a thin response turned into a torrent of incredible artists. 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. Local photographers Matt Carl, Marketa Ebert, Evan Wilder, Krista Schlyer, Charles Steck and Valerie Phillips helped us photograph over 125 artists in locations throughout the GAD. After each photoshoot we were able to share the high-quality digital portraits with the participating artists for their use.
Arts-friendly local development company, Landex, partnered with Art Lives Here to display many of these portraits in a fence-wrap on the site of the future Studio 3807 located next to the Gateway Arts Center on Rhode Island Avenue. Tweets, Facebook posts and emails came rolling in with photos of artists posing with their larger than life portraits. Artist and photographer Matt Carl used the portraits to create a mosaic poster and Lee and local graphic designer Courtnye Koivisto included all the portraits in the Art Lives Here magazine.
I am proud to present the result of months of work, planning, meeting, and detailed work: the Art Lives Here magazine.
Please download the PDF here: https://artlivesheremd.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/alh-magazine-final.pdf
Many of the articles and bios were shortened for the print publication, you can read the in-depth versions here: https://artlivesheremd.wordpress.com/alh-report/
By Neena Narayanan, Art Lives Here Coordinator