Sunday, April 22, 2001

Program brings art to damaged market




By Nicole Hamilton
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For almost a week plain plywood boards covered the broken windows of stores at Findlay Market like bandages over wounds.

        But on Saturday, a team of teens, art students and art professors changed that. They used the plywood boards as canvasses to paint messages of peace, part of the Art in the Market program.

        “This is a great opportunity to experience the power of art ... This is totally organic,” said Dr. Flavia Bastos, a professor of art education at the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning (DAAP).

[photo] A team of teens, art students and professors use the plywood boards covering damaged Findlay Market stores to paint messages of peace.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        The year-round program links students from her community-based environmental art class with teens from the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative. Together, they plan and create public art for the historic market.

        Last year the program produced hand-painted signs, totem-inspired sculptures, decorative benches, a colorfully painted playground and murals for the windows of a nearby building.

        Frank Russell, director of Art in the Market, says the teens learn more than just art skills; because it's their summer job they also develop responsibility and time management.

        It also helps business at Findlay Market.

        Mike Madison, one of a family of growers who sells coffee and organic produce at the market, said he can't use part of his store because it was heavily damaged by fire in last week's riots. The artwork helps balance his surroundings.

        “When people come back, you don't want them to see the damage that has occurred” he said. “Anything that can be done to lessen the impact is great.”

        Long before the riots, better race relations and the need for social change were already themes of the summer's proposed project, Dr. Bastos said.

        “In my class I quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, "I have a dream.' And dreams come from visions and images,” she said.

        Members of another arts initiative, the Contemporary Art Center, came to the market Saturday to show their support. Art can't heal all wounds but, “it's the great equalizer,” said the center's director, Charles Desmarais.

        Vincent Clark, a 17-year-old Art in the Market participant from Winton Place, said the boards he painted conveyed his message:

        “Skin color doesn't mean anything. Everyone's equal. No one's better than anyone. We're all here on this Earth together, so we got to share it.”

       



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