Friday, January 23, 2009

Great News!!!

You all know I work in Wicker Park at a dinner service. I've posted pictures of some of the place I work and people I've worked with here (click on the yellow text to see the Amazing smiles of some of the folks I've met over the years.

A lot of you know I've also had a dream to have an art workshop for people who live outside.

Usually when I get to work I cook food and then wash dishes. Last night, when I got to the kitchen, Father Manny was there. Father Manny is my boss (and you know who his boss is) and I hadn't seen him in ages and he gave me a huge hug. He is the coolest person and I wish I was half as cool as him. Anyways last night I was put on hot chocolate duty. It was different because it was front of the house with the clients and it was a lot of fun. I had brought a huge bag with me last night, and I was glad to see Father Manny because this bag of stuff was for a different area of the building. I had brought a bunch of art supplies. I tell Father Manny this and ask where should I put them or if I can go right up to the art room area? He's like keep them in kitchen storeroom for now. (thats another wild job I've done there, completely sort and clean the store rooms and walk in fridges. Whole foods donates a ton of food for the kitchen).

Later during service I ask Father Manny about the art room and where the person running it is..he tells me quite a crazy tale and that the person has been awol. I blurt out..."I'll do it". AND "I'll also get art stores and manufacturers to give us supplies. I've already called some of them!, I can start tomorrow!"

He was surprised, but then he bounced back and said "alright. We'll talk on the phone tomorrow". Then, he said, "the area for art is filled with winter clothing donations". I kind of droop and then he says "You can use the chapel!"

So then I go back to focus on the clients who are piling through the door and get some hot chocolates rolling. I am so excited I kind of get tears choking up. My mind begins to race with all the things I've wanted to get going for such a workshop.

If you've ever visited or worked in a place that serves people who live outside, you might have seen art rooms or facilities. I've seen a lot of these places but most people don't think of art making when they think of shelters or facilities for the homeless. The major trend has been art therapy. (which is not the same as practicing art) I used to work at a literacy program in Toronto for street kids. My duties were basically to archive the books. There was an art room but in these situations there are few supplies and often amateur grade materials, and rarely stretched canvas. I've always wanted to get professional grade supplies and have comprehensive workshops available in such a situation. I am all for small works on paper, and brief art activities but often this format is due to lack of supplies, rather than a decision on the part of the homeless artist. It' s one thing that I may work with recycled materials and found things...but part of art making is deciding what to use and what not to use. I believe in making stretched canvas as available as recycled paper because even choosing materials is part of the process. On some level, only having paper and pastels and few paints available is suggesting no one takes the work seriously enough to invest in options. One of my pet peeves is the adage "beggars can't be choosers". I say why the heck not? The adage is for poor people, not people of means. Too many people use that adage as an excuse not to dig deep into their own pockets or energy.

I am so excited I was spazzing with Stagg last night. My daughter was texting me asking what I was gonna do. On the way home on the bus my mind was racing with all kinds of ideas. Even to get disposable cameras so participants could build up their own image bank, to get individual sketch books donated for participants to journal, sketch and keep...for recording ideas for work. We could also do a video workshop in the spring, if anyone has interest in filming or scripts and ideas!


I've already got some ready stretched canvases, rolls of drawing paper, brushes, some acrylic paints, all kinds of collage material and I'm making image books and collecting art history books, contemporary art magazines...and really the possibilities are endless. These are just some meager beginning ideas.

When you have people who want to practice art and make things and have an area with all kinds of resources from found objects to professional grade materials there aren't any limits! And most people who need to make things from their imagination already have a ton of ideas...in this situation they just need supplies and space! Plus, if any one wants to learn classical techniques, I can teach them.

Now that I have the go-ahead...I am so stoked. I will still work supper hour in the kitchen , as this art workshop would be in the daytime. Usually, "art programs" are once a week for a couple of hours. The problem with "programs" are that they are based on low level assumptions and stereotypes. One of the reasons my approach is different is because with enough art supplies and materials we could have a set up two or more times a week. The idea that art is hobby rather than a critical language in images has created elitism and a big business in "art therapy". The evidence of this cultural collapse with image-making is most obvious in the lack of the money and time we give art in schools and in homeless shelters.

I hope even a small step leads to more learning and more making...




Related Links:

-If It Feels Good
-Handmade Houses

17 comments:

mikedelic said...

did you just call god a boos?

Candy Minx said...

Heh heh...I was noting that my boss has his own terms. You of everyone must have hankered with the thought of "you gotta serve somebody"...heh heh...

Candy Minx said...

And thanks...I fixed the spelling mistake...urp!

mikedelic said...

yeah i was just being a smartass. that's really cool though seriously.

Wandering Coyote said...

That's awesome, Candy! I'm really happy for you. Amazing how the universe comes through for us at times, isn't it?

I just had a piece of great news today, too, but I'll blog about it later!

Take care and have a great weekend!

tweetey30 said...

That is so exciting Candy. i am proud of you and I know you can do this. I dont know you personally but from what you write and such I know you can do this. happy painting and hope your clients have fun as well. I will call them clients. It makes it easier to say.

mister anchovy said...

sounds like a great opportunity...looking forward to hearing how it goes.

Candy Minx said...

Hey Mike Brown, don't worry I get your humour, it's like mine. And don't you know...when you get to Chicago I'm totally going to pick your brain and maybe you'll do a workshop...or play your guitar!

Wandering Coyote, yeah this was one of those times. I'll be over to your blog to check out your news shortly.

Tweetey thanks I'm so excited.

Mister Anchovy, I think it is a great opportunity it will really be a path to what else can be done. I think I'm going to learn a lot. I'd love to have a whole facility. Of a casual open kitchen concept (soup always on!) with some cooking skills taught and a studio with workshops for art.

Gardenia said...

This is one of your dreams beginning!!!! You think? I am so excited I can hardly stand it - Candy, you are brilliant - this undertaking is huge is so many ways - but a pioneering effort it will be - I am just telling Chuck what you are doing - he is impressed to say the least - everything you say makes so much sense - I've always been intrigued by the thought of art therapy, not really knowing how it is put out there - you've changed my thinking.

I've noticed when there are "budget cuts" art is the first "program" usually to go in the schools - this explains it a bit - ("hobby") - -

So the door has opened - "its your time in '09!" It takes a small step to get where ever you are going.

Candy Minx said...

Oh thanks Gardenia, I see it as a door opening too. Now...I am not against art therapy. But I am concerned that an high school art teacher...(is there still such a thing?) gets so little pay. Meanwhile...people get the idea once someone is broken...oh they need "art". And it's not the fault of the therapist, and god love them everybody should make so much money...but...

Why not have comprehensive music and art courses BEFORE people grow up and become bitter or worse...broken?

(and I do understand, that music and art can open dialogue for people in pain...thats PART of the reason it is a natural activity and should be an option to practice for everyone)

Why does art have to become medicalized?

Thats like saying water should be medicalized.

Someone somewhere has turned it corporate because the value of human life isn't worth anything on it's own. Medicalize human consciousness and then we can put value on it.

Ouch.

tweetey30 said...

Just make sure you have enough time to call or blog from time to time though with friends on how this is going... LOL.. Take care and hugs..

S.M. Elliott said...

That's incredible and such a great opportunity! There's an art program for homeless teens in Edmonton called iHuman that I think is one of the best things anyone has ever done in this city...the art made by the kids is amazing, and without people like you to facilitate, it would never have existed. There's so much creativity and talent out there - it just needs a place to go!

Jason Messinger said...

Cool stuff, I'll keep on eye out in My studio building, often when people leave their spaces they have perfectly good art supplies and/or furniture that they aren't going to use. If you have a 'wish list' it can help see wht you'd find of value for your group. Keep up the Good work!

Cheers, Jason Messinger

tweetey30 said...

Now SME that also helps keep the kids off the street and out of trouble. I have no art abilities in me what so ever but there are lots of things kids could do..

Candy Minx said...

Tweetey, oh I'm around don't worry!

SME, that sounds very cool. Vancouver has an amazing facility called "The Meeting Place". Of course it's still not enough for the huge population that needs it, but it's great because they serve three meals a day, have showers and a gym.

Jason, wow , that sounds fantastic. Any brushes, or paints...better make it acrylic for now though...ANYTHING! And hey...wonderful to see you...we should meet up for drinks soon!

Gardenia said...

Its money - its greed - medicalize it and then Big Pharma gets its money. Everything is a medical condition now.

Our grandson has an awesome art program in his school! In fact when I go up there to pick him up today, I will get a picture of a ceramic wall the students made. They have an art fair coming soon - wish you were here for it! Last year I got to demo - and it was awesome watching the kids' eyes gleam - and then their delight when I let them paint if they wanted - the school is been blessed with some awesome fund raising folks so they can keep their art program going....

Janet said...

I love seeing you so excited!!!