Thursday, March 31, 2016

Arts Education Flourishes...if You Can Think Outside the Box

Last year my daughter, Christine, sent me some photos of a visit she made to a wonderful outdoor art "experience," and she wanted us to put it on the list of things to do the next time we visited her.  So much color, so much art, so much fun...for free!  One of the things we have found encouraging is how there really are pockets of the country that support the arts, both in the school and outside of it.   Christine teaches middle school theatre arts - a full schedule - and has been in Texas about 7 years.
Christine on her first visit to the Hope Gallery, last year.
A few weeks ago we visited Austin over spring break, and spent part of a morning exploring the Hope Outdoor Gallery, in Austin, TX.  It is an amazing 3-story "educational art project," one of the largest outdoor galleries in the United States.  According to the website, "This project was developed to provide muralists, graffiti artists, and community groups the opportunity to display large scale art pieces driven by inspiration, positive and educational messaging."  The Hope Campaign was started in March of 2011, and seems to have a firm foot-hold.

When you initially walk up to this "empty lot," it doesn't look like much.  My eyes were drawn to the castle structure at the top of the hill, and I still don't have an answer to what it "is."  Christine said she was told this lot was once under development of some sort, but the project(s) fell apart and the lot was left with some walls and a semblance of structure until this Gallery was begun.  You can climb all over it, making sure not to disturb any artists, of course.  Daryl and I decided it looked a bit tricky for us, but Christine and the kids went to the top and gave us a nice photo op.

When they were climbing around, we walked the lower part and admired the world of some pretty dedicated artists creating their own stories.

Once the kids came down we looked for their favorite art, and each were able to make a selection.

The kids wanted Christine to paint their names on a wall (you have to be 18 to use the spray paint), and we quickly found out that this time of year most of the space is reserved for "real" artists.  Part of the year anyone can spray their art, messages, etc., on the walls, but right now is not one of those times.

That would explain the number of sketch pads and laptops we saw at  many of the work sites.

One rather interesting event that was happening was a film crew was following an artist around as she went from sketch to finished product.  Today they were filming her as she looked at the space she would be using and made some preliminary sketches.  From what we could tell she was going to be featured on some program, promoting the arts/the Gallery.

 Everywhere you looked was decorated space.  Watching the activity was a wonderful way to pass the  morning, give the kids some exercise, and discover that the arts are indeed alive and well!  Let's keep the movement growing!

What a welcome respite from Michigan winter!  

1 comment:

Jeanie said...

How cool is this! You know this gets me in all my sweet spots! I don't think I've ever seen anything like it before -- but then, it's Austin! They always do amazing things there! What a fabulous experience!