“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” – Albert Einstein
ThoughtMatter recently hosted ST(ART) BRAVELY, our first-ever Summer Salon evening. More than 50 guests joined the TM team at our studio to hear three speakers from the New York City area talk about education, community and diversity, and how art as a common denominator helps them all flourish.
Darcy-Tell Morales of the Met Museum’s teen education programs discussed the importance of connecting diverse youths to the arts and to each other. By channeling her own roots and the lessons she learned coming up – she’s from the South Bronx – Darcy-Tell has been able to build bridges to kids from similarly challenged backgrounds. Thanks in part to her efforts they’re less intimidated by the museum, more able to enjoy their time there, and in some cases even ready to try doing art of their own.
Natalie Raben of the Lower East Side Partnership talked about the organization’s involvement with the 100 Gates Project, where storefront gates that shut at night have been decorated with artwork, effectively opening them up anew. And we’re talking here about paintings, mind you, not graffiti. They give folks in the neighborhood a sense of pride. Ditto the local artists who made them. Better yet, Natalie has connected with locals there without coming off as an outsider who swooped in trying to remake the nabe’s character.
Finally, Dara Metz of Chelsea’s Magnan Metz Gallery explained the challenges and the satisfaction from being a pioneer in the cultural exchange between the United States and Cuba. She and her husband Alberto Magnan have been at the forefront of introducing Cuban artists to the American audience, and vice-versa. This sort of joint effort has even extended to a collaborative cooking extravaganza between American and Cuban chefs.
Dara also wove in Duke Riley, a Brooklyn-based artist represented by her gallery. (One of his works hangs on the back wall of the TM studio.) An accomplished innovator across different forms of media, Duke is all about engaging with the community, wherever that may be. He’s done everything from staging Saint Patrick’s Day parades in Havana for which he made flags, costumes and more, to a series of performances last summer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard which involved the choreographed flight of 2,000 trained pigeons from a decommissioned ship. During the practice sessions he invited students from schools in the neighborhood to see what he and his team were up to and the kids loved it.
The message from all three speakers was clear: Art isn’t just some secondary element of the social fabric. Not only is it one of society’s foundational forces; at its best art can be a primary driver for the common good.