Our Humans of ArtPlace series takes its cue from the famed Humans of New York project. This month, as our blog tells stories of “the people behind creative placemaking,” we asked the driving forces behind three ingenious ArtPlace-funded projects to give us some personal insights on work, life, art, and place. Doug Naselroad is a Master Artist-in-Residence at the Appalachian Artisan Center (AAC), where he oversees all aspects of the luthiery (stringed instrument) program.
This is the second in a series of guest posts by Judi Jennings called “Asking Tough Questions About Creative Placemaking.” Her posts highlight analysis and action ideas from interviews with some of the best minds in placemaking and philanthropy. How can storytelling transform public safety “hotspots” into community “bright spots”? How can mural-making elevate and protect the humanity of parents who are incarcerated? And: who is left out when creative placemaking seeks to improve public safety?
After a year of doing projects around the country, I am in Summit Lake (Akron) celebrating the League of Creative Interventionists year of work with the community. As the sun sets over the lake, it creates a picturesque view of a 200 person dinner filled with residents, leaders and, Knight Foundation and Reimagining Civic Commons Directors. I wonder, “ Why the f*#k am I not doing this work in my own city, in my own hood? ” I knew in that moment it was time for me to come home.
The words “artist” and “bureaucrat” can seem as opposite as the north and south poles. But poets, actors, musicians, dancers, and art-makers of all other stripes have been infiltrating our government’s ranks for years—and many are making great strides. In this story series, we’re visiting with accomplished artists who hold leadership roles in their cities about their dual callings, how their creative lives relate to their public service, and what the arts can bring to good government. Pete Muldoon is the Mayor of Jackson, Wyoming as well as a vocalist, keyboardist, guitarist, songwriter, and bandleader of the band Major Zephyr...
Peter Haakon Thompson is a Minneapolis-based artist and the Community Development Coordinator at Springboard for the Arts. For many years, he has initiated and participated in art projects that center community engagement—some while wearing his “artist” hat, and some as an arts administrator. We asked Peter to share some examples of successful creative placemaking ventures he’s been involved with, and to give us his top tips for making the most of every collaboration.
Amid the opportunities and stressors of gentrification, and facing an existential water crisis, new and longtime residents of bucolic Bozeman, Montana, create and experience public art that amplifies their stories and brings them together. In a rapidly growing western town, indigenous and non-indigenous artists collaborate with ranchers, ecologists, and activists in a poignant performance series about the local water scarcity problem.
When the place you live is a disorienting study in contrast—comprising great wealth and great poverty, soaring youthful hopes and debilitating structural realities, deep love and terrible violence—how can you find your voice, make wise decisions, stay grounded in the tumult? F R E E: The Power of Performance is a feature-length documentary film directed and produced by Suzanne LaFetra and David Collier that follows five teenagers who use dance and spoken word to transcend the traumas inherent in their daily lives.
What can the arts and culture do for our communities? A striking answer can be seen in Fargo, North Dakota, where residents came together with artists to show that civic and cultural improvements often go hand-in-hand. The City of Fargo, ND is located near the Red River, which floods seasonally. To manage this, Fargo has built storm water retention basins—as big as over a dozen football fields side-by-side—that take up a large amount of public space and physically separate neighborhoods.
This is the first in a series of guest posts by Judi Jennings called “Asking Tough Questions About Creative Placemaking.” The series will highlight analysis and action ideas from interviews with some of the best minds in placemaking and philanthropy. The interviews are part of the Creative Placemaking From the Community Up project, which is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Knowledge Building grants program.
When internationally renowned architect Sir David Adjaye was selected to design a building for an affordable housing nonprofit in New York City, people took notice. When the project included a children’s museum of art and storytelling along with a preschool—in addition to 124 beautifully appointed, permanent living spaces for low-income and formerly homeless people and families—it transformed any preconception of what supportive housing is “supposed” to be.