I’m excited to see 3 very cool southern (yep, i’m including TX in this one) projects selected for 2010 Black Rock Arts Foundation Grants!! (Full disclosure: I won a Black Rock Arts Grant in 2005 for my public art/restorative justice project, ArtCarTraz). Needless to say, BRAF funds some cool stuff and I’m happy they are here!

Community Art Makers

David Umlas, Marrilee Ratcliffe – Austin, TX

photo by Ira Weinschel

‘Community Art Makers’ are Austin, Texas based community leaders offering work and meeting space, guidance and assistance to artists endeavoring to engage our community. Former notable projects have inclulded recently showcasing the 32 foot tall fire tornado from the BRC ‘Fire of Fires’ Temple for a public audience of thousands, and the fist public burn night on NYE, 2009 of the Resolution Clock in the center of Austin, Texas for 100,000 people. Attached photo by Ira Weinschel.

BRAF’s infrastructure investment will allow the Community Art Makers to build upon current resources and offer more structured, resources and work space for artists. Their upcoming projects are focused on artist empowerment and community building. Some of these projects for 2010 include partnerships with the City of Austin Library, Parks and Art in Public Places Departments, ‘Art Outside’ and ‘First Night’ pieces that showcase interactivity to a public audience and hands on classes and training for trained and aspiring artists.

The Music Box

The New Orleans Airlift, featuring Swoon – New Orleans, LA

The Music Box will be an interactive environment built from the remains of an 18th century derelict cottage in New Orleans. This imaginatively reconstructed, and ultimately livable “house”, will become a musical instrument to be played by visitors. Instrumentation will range from the rudimentary banging of wooden boards to more elaborate sounds mechanically triggered by opening doors or pulling levers. In addition to visitors, a range of local and national musicians, including a regional high school marching band, will be invited to play the house for the project’s Block Party series, which will be free and open to all.

The installation will visually resemble works Swoon is best known for – a series of intricate handmade boats that have floated the Mississippi, the Hudson river and most recently the Adriatic Sea and the canals of Venice, Italy during the 2009 Biennale. As with these floating crafts, the focus for The Music Box is on found materials, artistic and community collaboration, functional environments and interaction that involves sound and performance.

The New Orleans Airlift is a multi-disciplinary arts organization that produces and facilitates innovative artistic opportunities for New Orleans-based artists locally and around the globe. Bringing influential artists like Swoon from abroad to participate in cutting edge collaborations with local artists at home in our own community increases exposure, amplifies resources and aids the creative development of our city’s unique and irreplaceable creative community that still struggles for sustainability in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The Music Box is the first incarnation of what will become a permanent performance, exhibition and residency space for he New Orleans Airlift.

Reclaimed Art: Community Art from Recycled Materials

Wayne Andrews – Oxford, MS

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, working with students from the University of Mississippi Student Art Association and volunteers from the community, will host a series of community art days. The purpose of the community art days is to reclaim materials from a 1928 building, transform them into works of art, and utilize the work of art to create a focal point around the building the materials where removed which is be renovated into a community arts center.

“We are excited that we have been able to reach several community goals with this project”, shared Wayne Andrews, Director of the Arts Council. “ The project will provide a demonstration of how art can impact a community both by providing beauty and economic development. The art, artists and volunteers will transform an industrial building into a community center with the “undesirable & unwanted” elements repurposed into a piece of community art.”

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