Guest Blogger: Ilenia Pezzaniti
On December 15, 2018, from 12-3 p.m., members of the ArtsNow committee and neighbors around Park East gathered on the tennis courts near the Towpath Trail, between downtown and Summit Lake, to celebrate the holidays and create community connection through art, games, music, gifts, and photos with Santa.
While Christmas music played by DJ, artist, and poet Ace Apps, local children decorated ornaments with their mothers and grandmothers, participated in a community visual board, played a jingle bell game, and delighted in snacks such as clementines, pretzels, cheese sticks, and cupcakes.
Over 35 children and their guardians engaged in the ArtsNow activities. The decorated ornaments were put up on a Christmas tree in the park where residents could view their contribution through the holidays.
Nichole Epps, Park East Artist-In-Residence, created the idea as part of Phase 1 of the Park East Project, a partnership made possible through a grant form Mural Arts Institute. The Park East Artist-In-Residence program seeks to combine art and nature, leverage the arts to create a sense of community possibilities, and energize neighbors toward creating resolutions for common problems, as individuals or as a collective. The ArtsNow project management team Kat Wentz and Karen Starr assisted in the implementation.
The ArtsNow Park East Artist-In-Residence program is a two-phase project with four main goals. Phase 1 of the project focuses on the heart and soul of the Park East neighborhood, with the artist using creative experiences to engage residents in common civic spaces in and around the park. The second phase of the project will combine a Capacity Building Workshop with a final installation. The workshop will serve as a continuation of September’s mural making workshop.
The first goal of the Artist-In-Residence project is to engage the Park East neighborhood residents in taking control of changes to public spaces year-round. Secondly, the project aims to honor the importance of supporting the team and residents who will take on the work in Park East after the project has been completed. The project also strives to identify creative potential and/or civic pride in Park East and to foster and equip those individuals through the partnership with local artists. Lastly, the project will identify cultural assets in Park East including artist residents.