Why are we doing Whitehall Arts in April?
Because arts need community and community needs arts. Show us a community that is alive and vibrant and you are likely going to find some or multiple forms of art intertwined. This isn’t a new phenomenon, it is an underlying principal of civilization that has existed for centuries. An easier task is to locate dull, static or dead communities. Odds are, there isn’t a shred of an art form.
During the Town of Whitehall’s “Arts in April” (#WhitehallArtsInApril), we’ll be showcasing artists and creating a conversation about art. But on this blog, we’d like to highlight what some very accomplished people have already said about art in community and to show you how we plan to paint it into Whitehall. The results? A darn good place to live.
Mark Fields, Executive Director, The Grand Opera House, Wilmington, DE
“The arts create an opportunity to come together for a shared emotional experience. Whether it’s a concert by the local glee club or the community theater group doing a play, a performance is a moment when we set aside whatever else is going on in our busy lives and experience the same thing…not as individuals but as a group. Together we laugh, together we cry, together we are transported by the life-changing magic of the arts. That is a powerful bond to forge between people, one that creates both memories and connections between us.”
In the Town of Whitehall, we are programming performing arts right into the first town square. Our hope is that by supplying space for performers and the community, we will begin to see our local talent showcased and perhaps attract some visiting talent as well. From concerts, to poetry readings, to kids plays, get ready for what can take place in the town square during the months and years to come!
Simon Draper, Executive Director, Habitat for Artists
” Art can work in so many ways, it can be in service of higher or lesser ideas. What it can mean is at the meaning of Life itself. Is Art always relatable? Possibly. The forms it takes aren’t always reflective of its making or the reason that many make art . So why do it? Because we’re human. Because it is part of our fabric. Art has no right or one answer, or a proven ideal, it comes from questioning from experiences, from emotion, of wonder. Can it change things ? Possibly. Can it connect us ? Most definitely Yes ! And the more its discussed, its ideas shared, the more essential it becomes for more people. When something is alive and vital it gives and informs, it reminds us of our better selves and our shared existence. The examined life is the richer life . The sharing of that life in its many creative ways informs both the practitioner and the viewer – the community at large. The conversation therefore continues. “
In the town of Whitehall, we have crafted the idea of conversation into our land plan. Conversations that can take place on the town square, conversations in our models, conversations that can take place getting coffee and conversations that can take place from the porch or stoop. The conversation may be about the art we plan to display or simply inspired by the presence of the art. In our public spaces our hope is that we will see the artists displaying their work and performing their craft and ultimately creating a conversation. We are working with Simon’s Habitat for Artists organization to create a setting for art, any art, in any form.
Mike Watkins, AIA and Town Architect
“The street once served as a canvas for architects, painters, sculptors, urban planners and landscape architects to enrich our communities with their artistic expressions. Sometimes these gestures were civic in nature—a sculpture in a public square, sometimes private—a decorative frieze. Sometimes they are very formal and classical—Baltimore’s first in the country monument to George Washington at Mt. Vernon place, and sometimes very local and vernacular—Baltimore’s first famous screen door paintings of the mid 20th century. Enriching the quality of the public realm is an opportunity available to all of us whether as a collective expression or something as simple as a decorative door surround or beautiful front garden.”
We took advantage of the fact that we were starting from scratch at Whitehall. By doing so, it allowed us to paint our mural from both the perspective of a bird overhead and from a pedestrian. From both views, in all directions, we wanted to make Whitehall both a piece of art and a living gallery. Some of our streets are formal and cleverly display the architecture of our homes and civic buildings. Some of our streets are casual and incorporate the topography and the landscapes. In many cases, we invite the visitor to enjoy the view along the walk and have planned twists, turns and terminations of streets that create anticipation and display the community in an artful way.
Colleen Zufelt, Local Sculptor
“Artists don’t create in a vacuum. We are responding to, reacting with or commenting on the world around us, be it near or far. Once created, our artwork is like another child. We’ve given it life, but the true life begins once it takes its place outside of us, in the home, community or across the world, depending on why the work was created and where it ends up. Visual Art is the first language of humans, and the universal one. Art speaks to us, inspires us without concern for knowing the native language of the creator. Now more than ever, in the age of the current emphasis on certain curriculum over the creative arts, communities need to come together to foster, support and inspire the current and next generation of creators.”
Art is created by people. The town of Whitehall is, above all, a place for people. And while that may sound cliché, many modern communities are designed to accommodate the vehicle. Whitehall places the automobile in third position behind the person and the bike. And by focusing on people and their connection to each other and to nature we geometrically increase the opportunity for creative collaboration. We plan to accomplish this sharing on our streets, in our squares, in our shops and with our activities, Yes, there are many art forms that thrive in solitude, but there are also many that thrive on collaboration and external inspiration. Whitehall is about people.
During Whitehall Arts in April, we hope that we can introduce you to new faces, new forms and create a new conversation in our community. With it, we will all be better off.