The Richmond Arts & Culture Commission (RACC) recently selected eighteen community art activists for the Fiscal Year 2016 Neighborhood Public Art (NPA) Mini-Grants. Twenty-eight applicants made grant proposal presentations to the commission this past fall, and eighteen finalists were selected. The 2016 grantees represented a wide range of innovative, creative new voices in Richmond with projects ranging from visual arts, media, literary arts, murals, and more.
Funding in the amount of $84,000 was provided by the City of Richmond’s General Fund, and a Community Development Block Grant thus demonstrating Richmond’s commitment to investing in local arts. . The City of Richmond established its public art program in 1987, and its Neighborhood Public Art community grant program in 1997. This year’s grants were awarded to the following projects:
1. Visual Arts: “Freedom’s Expressions: What Was Before and What is Now”
Project Manager: Rebecca Brown
This will be a participatory project joining formerly incarcerated people, their family members, and a professional artist into a Core Artistic Team to create a focal piece of artwork that will be permanently installed at the new Reentry Success Center, 912 Macdonald Avenue at 9th Street in downtown Richmond.
2. Performing Arts: “Fairytale: A Richmond Cinderella Story”
Project Manager: Molly Raynor
This theater production will be an adaptation of the classic Cinderella story – Richmond style. It will combine mixed media with live performance, using film clips of visuals, spoken word, theater, music, dance, and visual art. Cast members will write their own poems and songs, choreograph their own dances, and create visual art based on themes laid out in the original screenplay. Participants will engage in workshops on the script theme, and interview community members to gather stories.
3. Literary Arts: “The Scribbler Artist”
Project Manager: Tatiana Ortiz
Ms. Ortiz will work with Richmond elementary schools where participating students will write and illustrate their own books for publication. She will go into classrooms to teach students how to conceptualize their own book, write it, and illustrate it. Each student’s book will be sent to a publishing company and the students will have them back in a month. A book dedication reception will be held to honor each child for his/her work. The project is meant to encourage reading and to develop interest in art and writing.
4. Media Arts: “QWOCMAP Film & Freedom Academy”
Project Manager: Kebo Drew
The QWOCMAP Film & Freedom Academy will be a free intensive filmmaking workshop providing professional training, equipment and coaching. It will teach emerging filmmakers concrete technical skills, tangible artistic knowledge, and applied leadership tools. Participants will create 3-5 new films in an environment welcoming LGBTQ people of color. The project is in partnership with Richmond Rainbow Pride.
5. Visual Arts: “The Peace Dove Project”
Project Manager: Keiko Nelson
Ms. Nelson will implement her 2nd NPA grant to install her Peace Dove Project in Richmond. Students, clients of NIAD, the mayor, community members at local events, and residents from Shimada, Japan (our Sister City) have all painted several hundred 5” x 8” “peace doves” designed by the artist. Each dove has a unique, decorative image and a message of peace. All the doves will be collected, and hung in a public art installation in the lobby of the Richmond Memorial Auditorium.
6. Media Arts/Visual Arts: “The Storyteller Project”
Project Manager: Lisa Foote
This project will create a semi-permanent, kinetic mini-mural in a high-traffic, public space. The project will involve a series of community members’ portraits printed on ceramic tiles, and place permanently on a wall to create a mural of local faces. Youth and senior citizens will be paired together for a dialogue on video, sharing personal stories that define each of them. They will then photograph each other, and those photos will be used for the mural.
7. Visual Arts/Crafts: “9th Street Park Mosaic Project”
Project Manager: Daryl Henline/Linda Whitmore
This project will engage Santa Fe Neighborhood’s elementary school students in creating 142 individual 6” mosaic decorative medallions for the fence surrounding the park at 6th Street and Virginia Avenue. Mosaic artist, Daud Abdullah will go into local classrooms lead the students in the design process, providing materials and doing the final installation. Each student will complete a worksheet describing his/her piece. Santa Fe Neighborhood council will host a Saturday open house at the playground to celebrate the students’ work and their schools.
8. Performing Arts: “Assemblies in the Schools”
Project Manager: Eugene Rodriguez
This grant will support five separate student assemblies in Richmond schools in the WCCUSD. The assemblies will include concerts and interactive arts learning activities in traditional and popular Mexican music and dance. Prior to the assemblies, teachers will receive study guides with lessons tying Performing Arts Standards and students’ personal experience to the traditional Mexican art forms at the assemblies. Performances will be done by members of Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy, serving Richmond and San Pablo for more than 20 years.
9. Literary Arts/Visual Arts: “Richmond’s Little Free Libraries”
Project Manager: Cristal Banagan
The “Richmond Little Free Libraries” (LFL) project will use their 2nd NPA grant to continue building, designing and installing more small, freestanding LFLs in areas of Richmond that are not near public libraries or Bookmobile services. Local community members will learn construction and art skills, and will decorate each LFL with their own designs. The LFLs will be stocked with used books, and “stewards” will replenish them on a regular basis. The LFLs will encourage reading and literacy at the neighborhood level for both children and adults.
10. Media Arts: “Richmond Rides, a Photo Cyclist Project”
Project Manager: Josue Hernandez
Funded by an NPA grant last year, Josue Hernandez documented over 40 bicyclists in and around Richmond through photographs and interviews, assisted by participants who currently have little to no skills in photography. The resulting exhibit was so successful that he wanted to take it to the next step. This year Josue will work with a professional videographer to document Richmond’s vibrant, emerging bicycle culture.
11. Visual Arts: “We Are Richmond”
Project Manager: Erick Morales
This is a mural project designed to project unity, freedom, and family/neighborhood unification. Artist Erick Morales began mural painting in Guatemala, and came to the US in 2002. His goal is to inspire youth and elders to celebrate life through his mural. He will target youth not currently participating in other youth programs. The theme of the mural is to reflect Richmond as a city of diverse cultures, ethnicities, colors, foods, and music – and celebrate them all. He hopes his project will create unity, discourage racism, and bring people together.
12. Visual Arts: “Young Designers Group”
Project Manager: James Shorter
Project manager, James Shorter and his team of artists will offer the opportunity for youth 15-20 years to join their Young Designers Group workshops. Areas of focus will be: design & apparel; photography & video; spoken word & public speaking; and drawing & painting. The goal is to create future artistic business professionals by introducing youth skills in photography, videography, painting, drawing, poetry, fashion design, and more. Upon completing the workshop, participants will present what they have learned at a celebratory community event.
13. Visual Arts: “Organic Shapes Wall Art”
Project Manager: Ronald Blodgett
This is a mural project consisting of organic shapes and pastel colors that will adorn the outer walls of the Bayview Library and surrounding brick wall. A portion of the mural will include a positive quote written by artist Ronald Blodgett, and its style will complement the existing mural in the Youth Computer Room in Crescent Park’s Multi-Cultural Center, entitled “We’re the Future”. Blodgett hopes his project will reveal the hidden talent of Crescent Park, and he believes that culture is the sum of positive expression of thought, love and art.
14. Literary/Performing/Media Arts: “Digital Storytellers”
Project Manager: Kevin Holmes
The mission of Digital Storytellers is to engage under-served youth in becoming a generation of inter-culturally informed, technologically skilled, outspoken and creative leaders. They will do this by learning how to harness the power of media through innovative tools in writing, choreography, poetry, art, and video. Participating schools will be Richmond and Kennedy High Schools, Making Waves Academy, and RYSE Youth Center. Students will work with artist mentors during workshops over a four-month period. A project showcasing youth will be written, choreographed, and created by youth.
15. Visual Arts: “An Installation on Wheels: Cinco de Mayo Floats”
Project Manager: Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez
The goal of this project is to acquaint Richmond families with the arts by having them design, create and install a float for the Cinco de Mayo parade. Local families will be recruited to attend a once-a-week class over ten weeks. They will learn the history of the holiday, and will receive instruction in collaborative design, drawing, construction, budgeting, and use of materials. The bilingual class is free to the families, and offered at two locations: The Latin Center, and Richmond High School. Teens will earn community service credit, and the float will use recycled materials.
16. Visual Arts: “Inner Peace – A Richmond Community Mural Project”
Project Manager: Ross Holzman
This will be a large-scale community mural project at a prominent location in downtown Richmond. It will engage people on the street and invite local groups and prominent members of the community to the process of creating an “Inner Peace” mural together. This will be an organic process where participants will “freely express themselves” on the wall. The question: “How do we create peace?” will be asked before painting begins. Painting instruction will be provided.
17. Literary: “The Richmond Anthology of Poetry (RAP)”
Project Manager: Daniel Ari
The RAP project will be a vehicle to presenting, publicizing and preserving the voices of Richmond’s poets. Through the art of poetry, an art form that can create soulful connections between people whose lives may appear very different, Richmond residents can come to better understand each other. Participants will create a book of poetry that will be on sale to the public. Participants will submit 2-4 poems each, and will be inclusive of race, gender, and age. The goals of the project are to honor and share the diverse voices of Richmond, and to add to the cultural depth of the city.
18. Literary/Visual Arts: “Senior-Youth Connections Through Art & Correspondence”
Project Manager: Lauren Ari
Through letter writing, art making, and sharing, this project will give cross-generational participants a way to meet and share their stories through a collaborative, creative project. Under the direction of local artist Lauren Ari, participants will generate a selection of letters, ceramic bowls, and photos of the project that will be shared with the community through displays at City Hall, the Richmond Art Center, and senior community centers.
Each grant recipient were each assigned a liaison from the Arts & Culture Commission or the Public Art Advisory Committee. That individual will serve as an advisor throughout the duration of their project to help with the budget, timeline, outreach, promotion, and other issues. Grantees will complete their projects by August 31, 2016, working with the art commission as the oversight body. The projects will have different completion dates, but there will be an exhibition highlighting all of them in fall of 2016.