Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District
Art Lives Here is excited to get to know it’s Gateway Arts District (GAD) artists! We define a GAD artist as someone who “lives, works or plays in the Gateway Arts District.” We’ll be bringing you interviews from artists and arts managers to allow you to get to know our team and the incredible creative people that inspire us.
Meet artist Kimberly Keyes. From neighboring Greenbelt, MD she’s watched the Gateway Arts District transform over the years and even feels Greenbelt has had it’s own “artistic renaissance”, perhaps inspired by the celebration of artists happening in the GAD. She’s been drawing from a young age and plays in all sorts of traditionally “craft” mediums such as crochet, polymer class and even Shrinky Dinks!
Check out her interview on what drives her, what challenges here, and why she would have encouraged her younger self to not listen to the naysayers and believe in the power of arts education.
I started creating in my childhood. I had my parents and other adults tell me that I started to draw as soon as I learned how to hold a pencil in my hand. Drawing has led me to painting (originally in acrylic but I recently had some watercolor lessons through a series of Sunday afternoon workshops that are currently being held at Makerspace 125 in Greenbelt) as well as other forms of arts and crafts. I was taught embroidery at 7 and, in time, I learned how to do all kinds of crafts ranging from crochet to knitting to polymer clay to Shrinky Dinks. I’m always interested in taking on a new challenge that helps me grow as an artist.
An artist is someone who is always taking a creative approach to solving a problem or come up with an idea of what to create. Being creative on a regular basis is important to me because I’ve gone through periods of more stress and depression whenever I give up on doing any kinds of arts and crafts for a while.
I’ve lived in the area for a number of years and I’ve seen the transformation that it has undergone ever since the Gateway Arts District was created. Even though my current hometown of Greenbelt isn’t part of the Gateway Arts District, it’s located close enough to spur a bit of an artistic renaissance there, especially in Old Greenbelt. Roosevelt Center has the New Deal Cafe, which hosts a variety of live performances of all kinds (ranging from musicians to belly dancers to spoken poetry to open mike nights); Makerspace 125, which is a STEM technology center that is teaching a variety of creative things ranging from art classes to computer coding; and the recently refurbished Greenbelt Theater, which has become a non-profit cooperative that is dedicated to showing a variety of art films, documentaries, and other types of movies that tend not to show up at the bigger multiplex. Near Roosevelt Center is the Community Center, which offers a variety of classes in arts and crafts and is also the place where the Artist Afternoons are held on the first Sunday of the month.
I would tell my younger self to not let other adults discourage me from pursuing an art career like I actually did. I let other adults pressure me into taking typing classes instead of art classes because it was considered more “practical” while being told that I would starve as an artist. I also regret letting adults discourage me from even considering art as a major or a minor. (I ended up majoring in journalism with a minor in government and politics.) Even if I wouldn’t make it as an artist, I could’ve parlayed an art degree into fields like teaching or working in an art gallery or being a writer for an art publication.
I’m always having ideas on what I could do next and I have this desire to experiment. It seems like I’m at my best when I’m doing something visual and I even tend to get more attention whenever I’m carrying a bag that I designed or wearing a piece of jewelry that I made or something similar. I had a now-deceased friend who was very talented at painting landscapes and cityscapes but he had a hard time getting galleries to notice him. Fortunately for him he was talented at other non-artistic things so he got a job with the Federal Government in order to support himself and his family. I envied him because it seems like my abilities in arts and crafts are the only things that I’m really good at. Without my arts and crafts, people tend to overlook me and not take me seriously. I haven’t found anything else that I’m equally talented at that I can take advantage of to find secure paying work that would help offset the lean times between a major craft show or an art exhibition as well as the problem I’ve been having with making enough money in the arts to pay all of my bills in recent years.
Getting people to buy my stuff in tough economic times. I’ve had so many people tell me that they would love to buy my art but they are too worried about whether they will continue getting paychecks to do so. I’ve also had plenty of people asking me if I could lower my price to one that is so low that it wouldn’t even cover what I paid for the art supplies used to create that piece in the first place.
Visit her online at: sagittariusdolly.wordpress.com.
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All images courtesy of Kimberly Keyes.