Tag: Center Forward

We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

As the year comes to a close, we are all to happy to thank everyone who has helped to make this year at C4 Atlanta such a success! Looking back, there have been many tremendous milestones for our organization, and we are so happy to be able to have the resources and support to continue our work in the Atlanta arts community. We’d like to take a moment and highlight some of these amazing people and organizations who have helped us get to where we are:

Hatch

This year we launched a brand new class initiative called Hatch. The focus of this program is learning the “soft” skills to work in community and public art. C4 Atlanta would be remissed if we did not first thank the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation who has financially supported and mentored this program from just a small idea into an important next step for our organization and the artist we work with. We also owe a lot of the success of our initial pilot program to our content contributors: McKenzie Wren from Clarkston Community Center, Emily Hopkins from Side Street Projects and Heather Alhadeff from Center Forward. In the new year, we are looking forward to the contributions of Jim Grace from the Arts & Business Council Greater Boston and documentary filmmaker Katina Parker. Our program quality would not have have been the same without the input of these wonderful arts leaders. In addition, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our pilot program artists for their participation in the process. These artists have graciously volunteered their time and energy to be a part of this initial education process, and we are grateful for their dedication, contributions and feedback as we continue to develop our curriculum. Our initial pilot program artists are: Jessica Caldas, Nick Madden, Michael Jones, Hez Stalcup, Angela Davis Johnson, Lauren Pallotta, Charmaine Minniefield, William Massey III, Scottie Rowell, Danielle Deadwyler, Kris Pilcher, Orion Crook, and Shannon Willow. Thanks for being such wonderful artists and individuals! – Audrey Gámez, Education Manager

Photo by William Massey III of Hatch artists in discussion regarding community and identity.
Photo by William Massey III of Hatch artists in discussion regarding community and identity.

 

Artoberfest

Back in August of this year, C4 Atlanta moved into it’s 6th year of incorporation. An achievement of this kind only happens with the help and support of many different people, specifically the individual artists who have taken our classes and advocated for C4 Atlanta’s mission since our inception. It seemed only fitting that C4 Atlanta host a celebration in honor of our 5th birthday for the people who helped to get us here. In October C4 Atlanta hosted an inaugural event, Artoberfest, to do just that. With plans already in place for a second annual event in 2016, C4 Atlanta wants to thanks all the people and artists who brought this event to life.

Wild Heaven Craft Beers was our host sponsor for the event, and thanks to their kind staff and fantastic beer everyone who showed left that evening filled the brim with joy.  Our Host Committee provided the funding, people, and manpower to bring this event to fruition. Without them it would have just been the C4 Atlanta staff standing around drinking beer, so special thanks goes to every individual that moved a table, donated money, or provided their expertise to make this event happen. And last but certainly not least, C4 Atlanta wants to thank each artists that came out and shared a glass with us, especially our entertainment for the night. Without the talents of Bad Sausage, The Marvels of Justice, and Gold Griffith Artoberfest would have been just another evening. Their music lightened our spirits and inspired us to dance into the night. – Chelsea Steverson, Operations Manager

Some of the many happy faces enjoying good music, great beer, and even better company.
Some of the many happy faces enjoying good music, great beer, and even better company at Artoberfest.

 

Friends, Mentors, Advisers, All-Around-Kick-A-People

I have so many people to thank this year. 2015 has been a tremendous period of growth for me personally and professionally. The first person I think of is Margaret Kargbo. I wish she were still around to see and share C4’s accomplishments. I have so much to say about Margaret but I might start crying at my desk. She is missed.

I also have to thank my staff. I really care about them. They are hard-working, smart people whom I am proud to know. They are also pretty funny–which face it, it is people who make the difference between a job and a passion. I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention my co-founder and friend, Joe Winter. He is my sounding post. He is a fantastic board member.

Speaking of board… C4 has a great board. People who really care about not just the arts but Atlanta as a whole city. They represent different perspectives and background, yet they share passion for our community.

I am thankful for two new partnerships this year with the College of the Arts at GA Tech and MOCA GA. We have so many partners in the arts but these are our newest program partners.

I want to give a special shout out to Georgia Lawyers for the Arts. Seriously. This is a great resource.

I also want to thank the people who take my phone calls or sit with me over a cup of coffee.  Or they have supported me in ways that I can’t repay. These people go the extra step because they believe that the arts make a difference and they believe in me–which is humbling to say the least (in no particular order): Kurt Ronn, Heather Pontonio, Beverly & Jeff Winter, Jennifer Kimball, Heather Alhadeff, the M Rich Staff, Melonie Tharpe, Lisa Neidermyer, Bill Gignilliat, Alexander Acosta, City of Atlanta Council member Kwanza Hall, Jay Tribby, Debbie & John Holland, Jim Tolbert, my family, Shelly Elman,  Jessica Caldas, and to my husband, Spencer Holland (the silent C4 partner).

To our donors, funders and sponsors: we can’t do this with out you. That’s the truth. Thank you.

And lastly but not least: thank you artists and arts administrators who choose to call the greater Atlanta region your home. We are better for it. You inspire me. Everyday. – Jessyca Holland, Executive Director

with-kwanza
C4 Atlanta team with Kwanza Hall

Planning + Art(ists) – Hatch Artists’ Blogs Part 3

Part of the ongoing Hatch blog series, today’s blogs are reflections by our Hatch artists on their experience from the previous weeks’ class by Heather Alhadeff and Allison Bustin from Center Forward. Staff recaps of the session is available on our blog.

For this class, we ask the artists to reflect on the following thoughts:

  • Where is the work that you do most applicable in the planning process? Could it be incorporated in multiple steps?
  • Could you see yourself doing this kind of work? Why or why not? What kinds of projects WOULD you like to work on, regardless of whether they are “planning” related?

We hope you enjoy their thoughtful responses!

Angela 2
Angela Davis Johnson in a recent performance of “Between the Created and the Is: Procession with Ancestors” at Downtown Players Club

Artists are connectors. Typically through my work I strive to find ways to bridge seemingly disparate people and places in order to create unity and I think this mind-set can be a valuable tool in planning. For a few years I worked as a librarian, where much of my focus was on public service and programming and that experience greatly influenced my art practice. Armed with these skills, I see my art approach as a way to bring fresh and innovating ideas to connect communities in the decision making process. I believe my talents would be best suited in the planning process during the initial stages such as visioning, data collection, and assessment of conditions but in particular, community engagement. There are so many approaches in creating a way to make community meetings more accessible to the neighborhood residents; pop up shows to potlucks. During the session a wonderful idea of having neighborhood curator design creative spaces to gather would be an exciting way in engaging the community.

by Angela Davis Johnson

This summer I was in Boston seeing family. For the first time in three years, I felt nostalgic for my home in Atlanta, because I realized as I walked around Cambridge and Boston, there was hardly any street art. I found myself saying to friends, “In Atlanta, there would be a mural on this building,” several times as we were walking in Central Square, the hip and diverse neighborhood that connects Harvard and MIT.

I’ve gotten used to living in a city where the burgeoning arts scene has made such an impact that I feel its absence when traveling to cities without one. While Boston is a great progressive city with amazing culture, it made me happy to claim Atlanta as having something Boston didn’t: a colorful public realm.

Lauren Pallotta signs her mural "New Heights", located along the Wylie Street Corridor in Cabbagetown.
Lauren Pallotta signs her mural “New Heights”, located along the Wylie Street Corridor in Cabbagetown.

As Atlanta continues to bolster its placemaking prowess, we can be motivated by Heather’s slide that was headlined “People are DESPERATE for fun.” With the momentum we’ve gained through our city mural projects and programs like Elevate, it is the right time to be an artist in Atlanta who can get involved with sustained projects that boost revitalization in a mindful, engaging, colorful way.

Personally I think it’s important for an artist to be present and involved in all six stages of planning –Visioning, Data Collection, Assessment of Conditions, Recommendations, Public and Client Approval, and Implementation–so that the end product is a proper summation of its parts.

As a Creative Consultant, an artist can be an effective bridge between the planning group and the beneficiaries of said planning. An artist can offer fresh perspective and ideas to get more people engaged in their neighborhood meetings, the participatory process of planning. As we’ve learned in other sessions, an artist is a conduit through which a neighborhood’s ideas and voices is channeled, deconstructed and reconstructed into a vibrant and FUN public space.

I would love to be involved in urban planning. I feel as though it is a place where my creative and professional assets– cultural competence, painting, illustration, graphic design, education, non-profit management, strategic planning, outreach– intersect.

by Lauren Pallotta

 

Planning + Art(ists) – Hatch Artists’ Blogs Part 2

Part of the ongoing Hatch blog series, today’s blogs are reflections by our Hatch artists on their experience from the previous weeks’ class by Heather Alhadeff and Allison Bustin from Center Forward. Staff recaps of the session is available on our blog.

For this class, we ask the artists to reflect on the following thoughts:

  • Where is the work that you do most applicable in the planning process? Could it be incorporated in multiple steps?
  • Could you see yourself doing this kind of work? Why or why not? What kinds of projects WOULD you like to work on, regardless of whether they are “planning” related?

We hope you enjoy their thoughtful responses!

In hearing about the history and implementation of City Planning from Center Forward, I enjoyed the breakdown of what constitutes all the steps in the planning process because I could see that in some facet or another I had experienced almost all steps in some form. I think since most of my work has been made through Galleries or other organizations, the vast majority of my experience falls into the Visioning and Implementation categories. In short, I have an idea, describe it, then create it.

Hez Stalcup, far right, with other dancer colleagues at Elevate Atlanta.
Hez Stalcup, far right, with other dancer colleagues at Elevate Atlanta.

While the process of submitting proposals for projects has included some of the other planning stages, I think working within a team seems to be the most efficient and sustainable way to implement all the steps. I would be excited about creating stages of a project that could involve the elements I am less familiar with. I love the idea of a public Museum – cataloging and curating that amazing stories and everyday moments, places, favorite trees, reading spots, etc. on the same level that we would curate precious artifacts. I think the idea of creating mobile town halls, potlucks, art based advertising to spread the word – then using the information to re-visit the original stages of visioning and build RFPs in accordance, would be entirely within a realm that could be adapted to the skills of many artists.

I believe that there are creative ways to make each phase of the step a public art work in and of itself and am very interested in creative solutions to practical problems as another expression in the arts. I think the public forum can often be dismissed as being of less critical value than artworks held within the gallery world. It would be lovely to re-envision the impact that large scale works and public interventions can have, in the valuing of the everyday and elevating it. Whether that be the humans themselves, their history or the nuance of the small places and rituals connecting a neighborhood, community or city.

Some of my favorite examples were public spaces that were simply given attention. The daily activities that were celebrated because staircases, crosswalks, lunch spots and benches were treated as worthy. Can we as artists bring ideas that can be malleable enough to be directed by a group, by other lives and create something that excites and fulfills the people interacting with it? I think it is important and revolutionary work, even when it is very simple.

by Hez Stalcup

Orion
Artist Orion Crook.

As a therapist a big focus of mine is on the process. Even in building a recent therapeutic residency for artists, there is heavily focus on trusting the process and building a safer container for that process to happen within. When we go into community, it is great to have a list of ideas on how to think outside of the box, activate spaces, and engage with people in meaningful ways; but we also need to listen and make room for the unknown. Part of my work as a therapist is to listen for what is not being said, to wonder how I can provide an experience for this individual that is unlike their history, and to check in with myself in order to use my body to collect data about what the other person is experiencing.
For me the scope of these projects are a little large, I tend to be an artist that is fairly comfortable with art being a space for expression in my life. For me this means, I am not focused on making a lot of money or making it my career (although I do identify Therapy as an art form..) and there are some other notions here that are at odds with some of the RFD range that I am still trying to put words to. I have a few art idols in the city and they are less in the public eye (or fight less rigorously to be there) and more personal with their work. It is at times almost like they are happy with where they already are in the art word and make their art because they enjoy it and less so to build a resume. I respect their pacing. Sometimes I do dream big, and would love to install my living sculptures with lots of planning. However, the work is would take to sustain living art is whelming at times. In some ways I don’t see these processes as safer space for artist, but again maybe I just work on a process orientated level and they work on an outcome focused system.

By Orion Crook

Planning + Art(ists) – Hatch Artists’ Blogs Part 1

Part of the ongoing Hatch blog series, today’s blogs are reflections by our Hatch artists on their experience from the previous weeks’ class by Heather Alhadeff and Allison Bustin from Center Forward. Staff recaps of the session is available on our blog.

For this class, we ask the artists to reflect on the following thoughts:

  • Where is the work that you do most applicable in the planning process? Could it be incorporated in multiple steps?
  • Could you see yourself doing this kind of work? Why or why not? What kinds of projects WOULD you like to work on, regardless of whether they are “planning” related?

We hope you enjoy their thoughtful responses!

Artist Michael Jones (right) with his artwork from a recent exhibition at Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery.
Artist Michael Jones, left, with his artwork from a recent exhibition at Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery.

Last session was information overload for me. Applying my skill set to planning development could be best suited in the planning process or in the execution stages. I tend to have ideas on how to make things flow smoothly and admire the steps it take to achieve a finished product. I also have a diverse range in art disciplines which would bode well in the actual execution of some art applications. What intimidates me about the planning process is the paperwork and logistics of working with city planners that do not know the artists’ way of working. I guess that’s why it’s a good idea to bridge those gaps. The benefits, of what each side brings to the table is ideal in creating a well rounded project since both sides can take advantage of the assets they bring to the project. I’m not sure if it’s something I will pursue, but if the opportunity was to arise I would consider it, knowing what I’ve learn in these last few sessions.

by Michael Jones

“What would you like?” is a question that has resonated with me since our last Hatch session on planning. Some of my process can be reactionary at times and not idyllic or seeking to create an utopic experience/process/product. Morphing a “now” experience into something more ideal has been influential in my creative process. “how do I impact what is already present?” is more my query. “How do I work with what I have?”

Fight Still
Danielle Deadwyler (left), in performance.

“What would you like?” calls for creating or recreating from a clearer palette (though this is not the case when discussing redevelopment). I’m not wholly sure if planning is an avenue for my work. Performance art, my realm largely, is not leaving a tangible footprint behind on a community or on the aesthetic of a community/city (oftentimes). My imprint is more of a memory.

If I were to be a part of planning I’d be interested in upholding memory and history. The Mel Chin example of art in planning structure was impactful as well- how do we hold history on a pedestal, or as a valued relic in community? Therefore, connecting to the community engagement aspect of the process appeals to me. Community members are gatekeepers of what should be remembered (what has stuck) and what has influenced the journey of their specific place. Encouraging and supporting the question “What would you like?” could be explored via my medium. Here is a way to incorporate art in the process and not in the product making. Through performance art, an artist(s) and community members could begin to dig into imagine futures, assess the past, connect the present, via movement, video, any myriad ways performance art is expressed. It can get planners and community members and artist(s) out of their own minds and into the process of others. And performance art is not a product always, the process is key in building for a singular, or many singular moments. This could be ideal for really engaging community thought processes, “languages” in the community, emotional impact, historical/social ramifications/goals. Planning, in this manner, becomes process art making rather than obligatory processes for dodging history’s challenges.

by Danielle Deadwyler

Hatch Session #4 Recap – Planning + Art(ists)

Heather Alhadeff, President of Center Forward, shows our Hatch artists how desparate Atlanta is for FUN!!
Heather Alhadeff, President of Center Forward, shows our Hatch artists how desperate Atlanta is for FUN!!

Our last Hatch session provided perhaps the most insight into areas in which our artists had not previously worked, but could potentially be a great asset. We were joined by planners Heather Alhadeff and Allison Bustin of Center Forward who had a lot of great thoughts and information about how artists could be valuable in the city planning process.

Why do we even need to plan cities and public spaces in the first place? Firstly, planning provides us with a neutrally informed set of data that we can then use to make long term plans, prepared for the future and adjust for changing needs. It is, in essence, a way of thinking about the interrelatedness of different causes from a micro/macro context (how does one small decision affect the larger whole?). Communities can use and often need different types of plans when looking at overall sustainability and building quality of life within their jurisdiction. Planners often also interact with other disciplines including architects, engineers, city officials, developers, urban designers and public health officials.

Hatch artists digesting the history of city planning.
Hatch artists digesting the history of city planning.

A catalyst of city planning originated out of a need to plan cities because of public health. By planning how and where resources and housing was located, cities could hope to avoid large outbreaks of illness and plague. Through planning, we can anticipate and mitigate issues before they even arise. We can also protect private property rights as well as public expectations with a shared vision for the entire community.

There are six steps in the planning process – Visioning, Community Engagement, Assessment of Conditions, Recommendations, Client and Public Approval, and Implementation. Each step requires a collaborative effort among the planning team along with the community in order to achieve a shared vision. Proper due diligence and communication is imperative to creating a shared, sustainable vision for the community.

Artists can be a boon to planners and city developers in that their skill set helps to unite people and break down barriers. Artists can also use their skills to activate spaces that are vacant or might otherwise go unused. Heather stressed that artists can be an important part of any step in the planning process in a variety of different ways because of the creative problem solving skill set that is essential to their work. In Heather’s opinion, traditional city planning did a poor job of activating and engaging people in public spaces. This is largely as a result of trends in planning and space that led to lots of large unused public spaces and elaborate indoor environments. Because of this, we discussed several case studies where artists had been utilized during the planning process with very successful results. In particular, the creative skills that are artists have in spades are highly sought after already by the business community because of their problem-solving applicability. The economic impact of artists on the business community combined with recent cultural changes and qualities people associate with place make artists an ideal addition at any point in the planning process. Most interestingly, Heather had the artists brainstorm projects in the public realm that related to the specific skill sets they had to offer. Jessyca Holland has written a blog pertaining to this brainstorm activity. Her description of the artists’ contributions is available here.

Working with planners = working with people who think of everything! Our notes and handouts were incredibly thorough!
Working with planners = working with people who think of everything! Our notes and handouts were incredibly thorough!

Lastly, Heather and Allison gave the Hatch artists a crash course in best practices for RFPs and RFQs. We looked through all of the components that make up a good RFP/RFQ and how to derive as much information as possible from the posting. In general it seems as if the best projects generally have the most detailed RFPs, because the organization involved has a very clear idea of the project scope and what they are envisioning. The less detailed posting can sometimes indicate that the organization does not have a good grasp on what they need/want. Above all, it was emphasized that in each stage of the RFP proposal process, following all instructions and guidelines down to the letter was paramount. Typos, sloppiness in appearance, being even one minute late with your proposal, and not following directions are all very easy ways to self select yourself out of the process because of carelessness and lack of attention to details. Proposals often come from groups of people with a variety of backgrounds. Although projects may not be specifically art based, the skills of artists can still often be utilized. Therefore, artists should consider not just proposals related to the creation of a specific work but also those that deal all aspects of the public realm. Best practices for the interview process were also considered. Who presents is important as that person(s) should present clear messaging and possess sharp public speaking skills. We closed out the end of the day by thumbing through several sample proposals that were both good and bad to look at examples of the process.

C4 Atlanta would like to see artists engaged at every phase of planning in the city of Atlanta.

 

Artists and City Planning

This past Sunday, the Hatch cohort was joined by Center Forward’s Heather Alhadeff and Allison Bustin.

MARTA Improvement rendering, Midtown Alliance
MARTA Improvement rendering, Midtown Alliance

Heather and Allison are city planners. Heather is the founder of Center Forward and her work history as a planner is quite extensive. Audrey Gámez, C4’s Education Manager, will recap this past Hatch session in a later blog, but I wanted to take a few moments to capture a brainstorm that came out of this lesson. Heather asked the artists if they could see themselves in the various stages of planning. Those stages include:

The Planning Process. Image by Center Forward
The Planning Process. Image by Center Forward

For posterity sake: I want to capture the brainstorm. Also, I hope that these ideas will one day come to fruition. Some are bigger than others but we need to dream big…and fund big. The community has an opportunity to really be more engaged in the city’s civic life. Artists can make that happen in Atlanta. Artists can help planners with:

Visioning & Goals

“Laugh Track” – a sound installation in MARTA that plays the laughs of people in the community – bringing joy to transportation
Gallery curation of unfinished art – artist discuss the art process – “demystify” the artistic process
Clean neighborhoods – theatre, murals, performance art that excites residents (see opera example below)
Public museum – community space – connecting neighborhoods

Data Collection

Mobile Town Hall with artists/create asset map for the community
Sketch Up and Google Maps layered on asset map
City-wide or neighborhood wide art geo-cache
Snapchat feeds of citizens at community gatherings

Assessment of Conditions

Street Curators – Give an artist team to fill with art (with community members)
Tour map for residents to discover art – residents could collect info about street conditions between art points
Graphic novel presentation of plans
Waze for sidewalks – people input info about sidewalk issues

Public & Client Approval
Mobile Town Hall – Artists do the asking using art
A street potluck with art
Food, Not Bombs Potluck (family dinning for the whole community)
Community gift trading, gifts can reaffirm the project goals
Artist created brochure that uses images to convey data findings, etc.
Public meetings announced by art in MARTA
Babysitters at community meetings – arts & crafts with kids
Speed meet & greets  with elected officials (2 minutes tops to voice concerns)

Implementation 

Play Me, I’m Yours – Street Pianos 
Mobil Shower – Art piece incorporated
Artists interacting with kids, seniors, and other riders at MARTA stations. They capture stories.
People as airline-like stewards on MARTA: hand out towelettes, etc.
Black Feminist Opera like the one in NOLA – residents made sure their neighborhoods were clean when they knew the opera would be there
Public facing artist database that connects the public to individual artist’s works with street map
Potholes covered with mosaic tiles
Curate a pothole
Theatre babysitting night

Of course, these ideas may be moved from category to category. The visioning & goals phases could simply utilize the imagination of artists to problem solve. There are so many possibilities. Cities in other states are starting to recognize the contribution artists can make to the planning process. My hope is that Atlanta will also lead in this area.