June 14, 2017

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription

In this issue:

Persian calligrapher renders love, beauty, history
Why Eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts Would Hurt Rural Americans the Most
One of the World’s Oldest Art Workshops Is a Cave in Ethiopia
Italy: Art restorers unveil masterpiece damaged in winter
Atlanta artists fight for the right to paint murals
Poverty is my reality but I overcome the odds to follow my passion, says printmaker Mahboob Ali
Banksy Cancels Print Giveaway After Warning from UK Election Commission
Discover why Uptown is the city's undiscovered mecca for public art
O'side middle schooler brings art to sick children nationwide





Persian calligrapher renders love, beauty, history

Majid Roohafza says his calligraphy represents more than art. It is a way to illustrate thousands of years of Persian history, literature and culture.

“Rendition of Love,” an exhibition of his work, will open Friday and run through July 2 at First Unitarian Church’s Undercroft Gallery in Shadyside. A public reception for the exhibition will be held from 7-9 pm. Friday, and Mr. Roohafza will lecture and conduct a workshop from 9:30-11 a.m. June 17 at the gallery. All events are free.

At the age of 9, Mr. Roohafza began studying calligraphy as part of his school’s curriculum in Birjand, Iran. In ninth grade, when most students stop taking calligraphy lessons, he found a way to keep learning at a special school.

“My art teacher recognized that I’m doing a little better than normal, and I’m more passionate about it. He suggested, ‘Why don’t you come to that [school]?’ And then I started that, just basically parallel with my school, which was a great and incredible journey.”

Much more than just artful handwriting, Persian calligraphy is a rich blend of Persian culture, poetry and history, Mr. Roohafza said.

“It’s basically an extraction of all the beauty — the written literature, the music, the dance and, of course, the poetry,” he said. “For calligraphy, you ultimately have a chance to write something, and most of those are pieces and verses of famous poets.”

Mr. Roohafza, a 39-year-old chemical engineer, said the discipline appealed to many aspects of his personality.

“The practice of calligraphy, the nature of it, is basically like meditation,” he said. “It’s very exquisite, very detail-oriented. It has to deal with geometry, with balance, with concentration.”

He began with Nasta’liq, a rigid line that he said is the most common type of Persian calligraphic script. After graduating from high school, he moved to Tehran to attend the Iranian Association of Calligraphers. While in engineering school there, he met Gholam Hossein Amirkhani. The master calligrapher taught him how to write in cursive Nasta’liq, which allows more flexibility for expression.

“You’re facing an endless world of imagination and creativity that you can play with and basically go and find your own way, your own style of art,” he said.

To Mr. Roohafza, each type of line has its own beauty, movement and dance. Both Nasta’liq and cursive Nasta’liq can be expressed through different media. Historically, Persian calligraphers used brown ink made from the skin of fresh walnuts and black ink from ashes. Lines were made with a piece of bamboo.

Mr. Roohafza said some works in the exhibition were made using traditional materials. Others were drawn on a computer. Ali Masalehdan, the chair of Undercroft Gallery’s art committee, said Mr. Roohafza’s mixing of different media is part of what drew him to his work.

“It combines traditional calligraphy with modern concepts, and the result is something beautiful, something desirable,” Mr. Masalehdan said.

Mr. Roohafza’s art represents a number of universal concepts, including friendship, love and devotion to country. He said he presents these in an abstract form to capture his viewers’ attentions.

“You don’t have to understand the language to appreciate the art,” Mr. Masalehdan said.

Since moving to the United States, Mr. Roohafza has had exhibitions in Durham and Raleigh, N.C., New Orleans and Houston. Inspired by the diversity of the cities he’s lived in, he said the ability to share his work and its meaning with a wide audience is one of his “best experiences.”

Undercroft Gallery typically displays both local and international artists, Mr. Masalehdan said. He hopes that this show will promote international understanding of Eastern culture and history at a time when there is animosity toward the Middle East. Mr. Roohafza said his main goal is to share more than a thousand years of Persian history with Pittsburghers.

“The best thing for me is the inspiration and doing my small share of duty by sharing this magnificent art as a reflection of a rich and historic culture.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Why Eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts Would Hurt Rural Americans the Most
The NEA, which the Trump administration has proposed to fully defund, has long been accused of primarily serving coastal elites when in fact the opposite is true.

President Trump’s proposed federal budget for 2018, released last week, made official what arts advocates had long feared: he is calling for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The implementation of these cuts is by no means guaranteed — the budget’s unprecedented slashing of the social safety net and drastic cuts to major agencies will encounter resistance from Democrats and, in some cases, even from moderate Republicans. But with the Republicans controlling Congress, it is likely that some of Trump’s budget proposals will eventually be implemented. Moreover, the budget stands as a statement of the President’s priorities, a message to the country about what this administration cares about — and what it doesn’t.

The NEA has long been a target for the right and, specifically, for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative DC think tank whose budget blueprint provided the basic framework for Trump’s plan. Heritage has long argued that NEA spending is wasteful, little more than “welfare for cultural elitists.” Evidence proves otherwise. In reality, the NEA has an outsized impact in rural communities and less densely populated states, where funding from private foundations and wealthy philanthropists is harder to obtain. With a budget of only $149.8 million (that’s roughly .003 % of annual federal spending), the NEA’s resources are extremely limited. The agency partly focuses on using the funding it can provide to help its grantees — especially smaller and less well known organizations — attract additional funding from other private and public sources.

The NEA’s outsized impact on rural areas and less densely populated regions is reinforced by the way it distributes the funding it provides directly to states. Since 1998, a full 40% of the NEA’s grant-making budget has been paid out to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations as block grants through partnership agreements. In order to qualify for the partnership agreement block grants, states must develop a state arts plan, have a state arts agency that will manage the funds, and match the NEA funds dollar for dollar with state appropriations.

The matching fund requirement creates a web of interconnections in the US cultural funding ecosystem that includes 56 state arts agencies (for 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia) and six Regional Arts Organizations. The states receive NEA funding, but only if they meet the NEA’s partnership agreement requirements. The Regional Arts Organizations, private non-profit organizations that also receive a portion of their funding from the NEA, distribute additional funds to artists and arts organizations in their member states, especially for projects with a regional impact. The Regional Arts Organizations all have their own membership agreements, but they often require that their members maintain a qualified partnership agreement with the NEA, further incentivizing states to remain in good standing with the Endowment. (Full disclosure: the author is employed by an organization that receives funding from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the state art agency for the District of Columbia. DCCAH received 3.2% of its fiscal year 2017 funding from the NEA.)

The elimination of the NEA would destroy the foundation of the country’s funding network, leaving arts organizations across the US more isolated and with fewer resources for cultivating additional private and public funding. Due to inequities in state funding, certain states would feel the impact more deeply than others. In fiscal year 2017, the revenue of the New York State Council on the Arts was over $46 million dollars — by far the largest of any state arts agency. Only $866,000 of that — or 1.9% — came from the NEA. Wyoming, with an annual state arts budget of just under $1.8 million dollars, received $700,000 — or almost 40% — of its FY2017 arts funding from the NEA. According to the National Association of State Arts Agencies’ Fiscal Year 2017 Revenue Report (the source of many of the funding statistics included here), American Samoa, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, the US Virgin Islands, and Wisconsin all received 40% or more of their 2017 state arts agency funding from the NEA.

The state and regional funding networks have been challenged in recent years by cuts to state government funding for the arts. Earlier this year, the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) survived a Republican-led attempt to dissolve the agency and hand its duties over to the Mississippi Development Authority. Those efforts came on the heels of a budget reduction for MAC, which experienced an 11% cut in its state appropriation from 2016 to 2017. Oklahoma and New Mexico, two other states that are in the midst of budget crises, also experienced major cuts to their state arts funding from 2016 to 2017, with a 16% cut in Oklahoma and an 18% drop in New Mexico. Recent struggles faced by arts organizations in Kansas and Iowa demonstrate just how vital public culture funding is in those states, and how devastating the elimination of the NEA could be for artists and arts workers in similar funding ecosystems.

Raiding the Culture Coffers in Iowa

In Iowa, the state’s $6 million Cultural Trust was gutted by the Governor and State Legislature in January and the state appropriation to the Iowa Department of Cultural affairs was reduced by $210,958 for the remainder of 2017, both as part of an effort to close the state’s 2017 budget shortfall. On the final day of the legislative session, a provision was added to the final spending bill that eliminated Iowa’s Art in State Buildings program, which required that .5% of spending on state government buildings be set aside for public art. The program, which was started in 1979, had been especially significant for the state’s public universities, resulting in significant collections of public art on the campuses of the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.

Reached by phone, Jeff Fleming, Director of the Des Moines Art Center, expressed fears that the state cuts, as well as any potential cuts to the NEA, would fall hardest on rural Iowans. In Des Moines, Fleming explained, there are other options for funding, including Bravo Greater Des Moines, which is funded in part by hotel-motel tax revenue from Des Moines and surrounding communities. The state’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which makes an effort to fund projects in all 99 of Iowa’s counties, is the only major funder in many rural areas. But even for organizations that might have other options, Fleming explained, the loss of public funding is about more than the monetary value it provides. Public funding from the NEA and the state and regional funding networks brings with it a sense of validation and a feeling that artists and arts organizations in Iowa are part of a broader system of support. That connection can’t be replicated by funding from private sources. Furthermore, Fleming fears that the recent cuts in Iowa represent something more than belt-tightening, what he termed “a devaluation of culture, of critical thinking, of creative enterprises, of intellectual thought, and scientific inquiry.”

Kansas Struggles to Rebuild Its Arts Funding

Since 2011, artists and arts organizations in Kansas have experienced firsthand the damage that can come from losing access to the network of public funding for the arts. As part of his conservative overhaul of the state budget, Governor Sam Brownback used the line-item veto to completely defund the Kansas Arts Commission in 2011, making Kansas the only state in the country without a functioning state arts agency. Although state arts funding was restored in 2012, with the establishment of the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (CAIC), Kansas went without NEA matching funds for two years, losing its membership status in the Mid-America Arts Alliance during the same period. For 2017, Kansas again struggled to reach the matching funds requirement. For this fiscal year, CAIC received $225,604 in direct funding from the state of Kansas. That allocation, along with state funding of arts-related initiatives in the Department of Commerce, met the minimum requirements of Kansas’s partner agreement, allowing it to receive $637,600 from the NEA for 2017.

State cuts and inconsistent availability of federal and regional funds have left Kansas’s arts organizations struggling to close funding gaps. In March, a New York Times article quoted Brenda Meder, whose organization, the Hays Arts Council, has struggled to survive without state or federal funding. The organization has had to cut expenditures to survive, slashing its administrative costs, reducing artists’ pay, and asking schools to chip in money for performances that it previously provided at no cost. Cuts to funding have also meant weakened networks for artists and arts organizations, according to Meder, who told the Times that artists in the state have become more “siloed” and “less engaged” since public funding has become scarce.

Despite acknowledging these challenges, the article — titled “Can the Arts Thrive Without Washington? A Kansas Town Says Yes” — took an optimistic tone, painting a picture of gritty and determined artists and arts lovers dedicated to supporting culture in their communities no matter what. In a letter to the editor, 19 directors of arts groups in Kansas took issue with the article’s rosy outlook, pointing to the $3.3 million in funding that flows to Kansas every year from the NEA, the NEH, and the IMLS, stating: “The arts can and will persevere, but cannot thrive without federal support.”

Hyperallergic spoke by phone to Saralyn Reece Hardy, the Director of the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas and one of the 19 signatories of the letter. “It’s not even a question of ‘are the arts important’ — of course they are,” she said. “But when discussing federal funding, it has to do with all citizens having access, so we can build the diversity of our offerings, as well as our audiences.” Hardy stated that the elimination of the NEA would be felt across the state: “Kansas is a very grassroots state. It has urban centers and it also has many rural arts organizations — all benefit from a federal presence and federal support.”

Reached by phone, Peter Jasso, the director of CAIC, acknowledged that the loss of NEA funds would have a significant impact on his agency’s capabilities and force him to re-examine its spending priorities (this year, the NEA provided a full 73.9% of the CAIC’s funding). As the sole full-time employee of the CAIC, Jasso sympathized with the determined optimism reflected in the New York Times article. “You’re used to spinning straw into gold, in many ways,” he said. “That’s the mindset that many government employees have and many arts organizations have. You’re going to keep going as long as you can and try to do the best job you can.”

Todd Stein, the interim CEO of the Mid-America Arts Alliance (the Regional Arts Organization that includes Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas), pointed to the recent congressional budget reauthorization — which included an increase in funding for the NEA for the second half of fiscal year 2017 — as a good sign. “Not only was the budget for federal cultural organizations not eliminated, it was increased and with strong bipartisan support,” he said. Still, his organization is committed to fighting for the NEA’s survival: “Our focus will be on advocacy from now until the budget is finalized.”

For her part, Hardy emphasized the importance of the connections that the elimination of the NEA could destroy. Public support, to Hardy, is about more than the money itself, but also about creating connections between artists, arts organizations, and audiences in Kansas and beyond. “It’s a network with high democratic ideals about what art should be and who it is for,” she said. “Because in America, it should be for all — and that is the mandate of federal funding. It is not for the few, it is for the many.” Hyperallergic 

One of the World’s Oldest Art Workshops Is a Cave in Ethiopia
According to a new study, the Porc-Epic Cave served as a site for the continuous production of ochre powder for at least 4,500 years.

Caves may not get great natural light, but a low-ceilinged one in Ethiopia represents one of the earliest known and longest-running art workshops. According to a new study by a group of European archaeologists, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the 40,000-year-old Porc-Epic Cave in eastern Ethiopia served as a site for the continuous production of ochre powder — which prehistoric people often used for paint — for at least 4,500 years. Over that time, cave dwellers built up a nearly 90-pound cache of the reddish, iron-rich rocks, the largest known East African ochre assemblage from the Middle Stone Age.

“Considering the large amount of ochre processed at the site, this continuity can be interpreted as the expression of a cohesive cultural adaptation, largely shared by all community members and consistently transmitted through time,” the researchers write. In other words, the site functioned similarly to a modern-day paint workshop, as a center where ochre was imported in large slabs or small pieces, then hand-ground into fine powder. Researchers even found particular rock pieces that may indicate the work of apprentices who were training to properly flake and grind the raw material. The findings resemble those from another cave in South Africa, a 100,000-year-old site where humans processed ochre and stored it in abalone shells.

In the case of the younger Porc-Epic, archaeologists examined about 4,000 pieces of ochre — now all housed at the National Museum of Ethiopia — as well as a number of ochre-processing tools and ochre-stained artifacts, to understand how humans transformed the naturally occurring substance into a valuable tool for their community. The researchers also ground up some ochre themselves, experimenting with different stones and analyzing the results. What they found was that myriad shades and powders of varying coarseness could be produced from the material, from yellow and oranges to reds and grays.

The pigment was used for a variety of purposes, but samples were likely made mostly for “symbolic activities,” the researchers write, such as cave or body painting; some ochre pieces even appear to be ground to a point at one end, as if they were once used like crayons. Another notable find: a round pebble half-covered with ochre that suggests use as a stamp to apply pigments to or even form patterns on soft material.

It is possible that some powders served more functional purposes. People may have used them to tan animal hides or applied them to their skin as an early form of sunblock or insect repellent, the study explains. What’s certain, though, is that Porc-Epic remained a busy site of ochre processing for over four millennia, evidently catering to communities that relied on the expertise of generations of artisans. Hyperallergic


Italy: Art restorers unveil masterpiece damaged in winter

MILAN, ITALY: After more than four months of work, the Brera Art Gallery in Milan unveiled on Thursday a fully restored Donato Bramante painting after it suffered damage due to excessive dryness over the winter.

The oil-on-panel 15th century masterpiece "Christ at the Column" was the most important of about 40 paintings damaged when the Brera's humidity control system failed during a rare dry, cold spell in January.

None of the paintings lost color or suffered permanent damage, said chief restorer Andrea Carini.

"Christ of the Column" had long ago been dubbed a "chronic patient" due to its fragility, as paint does not cleave well to wood.

"At a certain point, after 500 years, this capacity of the materials to hold themselves together ... fails," Carini said.

Restorers sprayed Bramante's painting with a special foam to stop it from losing color and let it set for about 20 days. They also made long-planned interventions including replacing the varnish.

The restoration work also allowed experts to look underneath the paint using infrared and see previously unknown details, said Paolo Borghese, another Brera restorer. That included Bramante's fingerprints on Christ's bellybutton and at the tips of his hair, indicating the artist had used a technique to smudge the paint that was gaining popularity in his era.

The Brera has installed a state-of-the-art climate stabilizing system inside the frame on Bramante's work to help avoid similar emergencies in the future. Houston Chronicle


Atlanta artists fight for the right to paint murals
Federal lawsuit says city makes it onerous to paint murals on private property

ATLANTA, GA: A group of local artists is suing the City of Atlanta, claiming that city policy makes it unnecessarily challenging to paint murals on private property.

According to the AJC, a federal lawsuit has been filed on behalf of an assortment of artists and property owners in an attempt to stop the city from regulating murals on private property.

The lawsuit stems from new regulations that will require potential murals to be permitted through five different agencies (including the mayor’s office and Atlanta City Council), with no limitation as to how long such reviews can take.

In preparation for the new rules, the city has cracked down on murals that have popped up afoul of an existing ordinance dating back to 1982, requiring that they conform to the new rules, the newspaper reports.

Apparently, at risk are a range of murals that already exist, including works by Yoyo Ferro and PLF.

If existing murals are not brought into compliance with the rules by June 9, city officials have reportedly threatened fines, jail time, or even removal of the murals.

Ironically, Atlanta is regarded as a burgeoning mecca for murals, with initiatives including Living Walls being fixtures in the city for years.

City officials aren’t able to comment on the pending lawsuit for now. Meanwhile, the artists are hopeful for a court order making the new rule unenforceable.

In speaking with the AJC, one attorney representing the artists succinctly summed up their position as follows: “The public art ordinance requires government pre-approval before anyone can engage in any artistic expression anywhere in the city that might be visible to the public ... That’s simply not consistent with our cultural freedoms. Curbed Atlanta


Poverty is my reality but I overcome the odds to follow my passion, says printmaker Mahboob Ali
Mahboob Ali is the only Pakistani printmaker practising this tough genre for almost five decades.

A class assignment of making a woodcut during a foundation course at the National College of Arts (NCA) in 1968 became the lifetime romance for Mahboob Ali, the only Pakistani printmaker practising this tough genre for almost five decades.

Born into a working family of Bhati Gate, he was gifted with an artist’s eye and passion to draw. He would volunteer for anyone in the neighbourhood to make drawings and presentation charts to be displayed in schools.

“My family could not afford to buy me art material. It was quiet an excitement to work for others and playing with the art materials which I could not buy myself. My father realised my passion and encouraged me to become a professional artist,” Mahboob recalls.

“I enjoyed studio works at the NCA but being from a humble academic background, it was tough for me to cope with the theoretical subjects which were taught in English,” he says.

But he overcame his hurdles and graduated from the art college. He has been working as a professional designer to earn for living and to carry on his studio practices as a printmaker since his graduation in 1972. He stands tall among his contemporaries with 25 solo shows to his credit.

“In the beginning I struggled to learn the skill. We were taught to make single colour prints in the college. The multicoloured woodcut by Japanese and American artists inspired me to make coloured prints. They looked wonderful to us but we didn’t have materials and tools to create the colourful works.”

The wood used for the purpose was very expensive and rarely available and woodcut tools were also not available and Mahboob had to struggle to get them.

“I copied the design from an art book and went to an old artisan skilled in making wood carving tools at Mochi Gate. An intelligent craftsman, he was kind enough to make a set of very fine tools for me and I am using the same tools till date,” he recalls.

Creating multicoloured woodcuts needs a lot of hard work as it involves carving the image again on another wood plate to get the other colour printed. He kept on honing his skills and made the prints employing up to eight colours.

“I came across work of an American printmaker which was executed using 36 colours. It was a landscape in which 13 colours were used only to create the clouds and sky. It made a lasting impression on my mind. I took the challenge and keep working hard, increasing the colours in my prints and over the years I succeeded in creating prints employing up to 100 colours in a print, portraying life in the Walled City of Lahore,” he claims.

During the process, Mahboob has been ridiculed and criticised for his craze to excel in the field which is not rewarding financially.

“Every artist has his own circumstances. Poverty is my reality but I have learnt to overcome all odds to follow my passion. I do calligraphy and commercial paintings besides my labourious designing jobs to finance my studio practices as a printmaker,” he said in a determined tone.

Mahboob has conducted numerous workshops to pass on his art to the young students. He is always looking for young artists to follow the tradition and he visits art institutions to sharing my skills.

Working with a wide range of colours by mixing the graphic inks he creates an illusion of depth in his visuals which attracts the viewer. The life in and around the Walled City remains the mainstay of his work.

Working patiently with very unforgiving mediums, from carving the image to getting the print, Mahboob skillfully manages the colour harmony in his prints. His sound understanding of light and its shades on the surroundings creates a dramatic effect. The dark shadows and sharp light in the narrow streets of the Walled City evoke a sense of nostalgia for the place where he spent his childhood. Dawn


Banksy Cancels Print Giveaway After Warning from UK Election Commission
The street artist had planned to give a new, limited-edition print to anyone who could prove they’d voted against the conservative Tories in the upcoming general election.

For a few days, Banksy was offering an exclusive giveaway of a new, limited-edition print to people who were set to vote against the conservative Tories in the UK’s upcoming general election. But the street artist was forced to cancel his campaign following warnings from the Electoral Commission that his offer may have constituted a criminal offense and invalidated election results, as it required registered voters to send him photographs of their marked paper ballots from election day.

“I regret to announce this ill-conceived and legally dubious promotion has now been cancelled,” Banksy wrote in a statement shared yesterday, headlined “product recall.” His call for pictures on Sunday had immediately raised concerns by many who cited Section 66 of the Representation of the People’s Act, which states that no person shall “directly or indirectly induce a voter to display his ballot paper after he has marked it so as to make known to any person the name of the candidate for whom he has or has not voted.”

Banksy had intended to release the prints on June 9, the day after the election. His offer was extended only to voters in the Bristol North West, Bristol West, North Somerset, Thornbury, Kingswood, and Filton constituencies — all in or near the city of Bristol, the birthplace of the anonymous artist. The new artwork shows a girl reaching for a heart-shaped balloon printed with the Union Jack. It’s a spin on his most famous image, which features the same scene with a less politically charged red balloon.

Police began investigating the campaign on Monday after people began complaining about how it could skew the election results.

“It is a criminal offense under the Representation of People Act 1983 for any voter to accept or agree to accept a gift or similar in return for voting or refraining from voting,” the Avon and Somerset Constabulary wrote in a tweet. “Any person participating in an offer to receive a gift is at risk of being prosecuted.”

As in many states in America, there can be legal consequences for anyone in the UK who photographs a marked ballot. Taking a picture of a ballot’s unique identification number is explicitly against the law, and those who document how others have voted — whether intentionally or not — face a £5,000 (~$6,460 US) fine or six months in prison. The Electoral Commision has advised polling stations to display a notice making clear that photography of any kind is not permitted inside.

Banksy’s original announcement had failed to address any potential repercussions for his fans. The only addendum it included was a lawyer’s note describing the print as a “souvenir piece of campaign material, it is in no way meant to influence the choices of the electorate, has no monetary value, is for amusement purposes only and is strictly not for re-sale.”

The surprise giveaway arrived nearly a month Banksy’s appearance in Dover, where he painted a Brexit-themed mural of a worker chipping away at a star on the European Union flag. As the Telegraph reported, the family that owns the building on which he made his political statement is now planning to sell the piece for £1 million and donate the proceeds to local charities.

Banksy isn’t the only artist engaging with the UK’s upcoming election; Cornelia Parker is doing so under sanctioned terms, as the official artist for the 2017 general election. The first woman to hold the position since its creation in 2011, Parker is producing an election-inspired work that will enter the Parliamentary Art Collection and go on view at the House of Commons in September. In the meantime, she has been keeping a visual diary on Instagram as @electionartist2017. Hyperallergic


Discover why Uptown is the city's undiscovered mecca for public art
Editor's Note: Dallas is host to Art Materials World 2018 next March.

There is amazing public art to be found all around Uptown, if you just know where to look. At the intersection of McKinney and Lemmon avenues, look down and you'll see the dazzling new crosswalk that was recently installed. Look outside the Standard Pour to spot the #StartedWithAScreenshot He(art) Wall, or by Taco Diner for the Super Deluxe mural. And speaking of tacos, there's also LA Muñoz's riff on Austin's famous "I love you so much" wall, right here in Uptown on the side of Urban Taco.

These are only a few of the Instagram-worthy spots that help turn a stroll around Uptown into a bonafide art walk, thanks to the efforts of Uptown Dallas Inc. The nonprofit management organization has worked hard to stock its neighborhood with beautiful public art, in addition to keeping it clean, safe, and blooming with flowers. And the collection is only expected to grow.

Leisurely making your way from one end of Uptown to the other (roughly one square mile) would mean taking in 27 distinct pieces of art — and that's not counting the eight recognizable javelins that signal the neighborhood's borders. Murals and sculptures might be the most prolific, but there are also fountains and water features, and even an obelisk in the mix.

Marvel at Margo Sawyer's Synchronicity Light Receptors by Cityplace/Uptown Station, or the dragon sculpture by an unknown artist that sits near Hotel Zaza. You might be familiar with Brad Oldham's sleek and shiny Traveling Man in Deep Ellum, but the artist has a sculpture on this side of the highway too: Uptown Moment near the intersection of McKinney Avenue and Routh Street. Even the iconic B&G letters have landed outside Whole Foods Market, giving you one more place in which to show that "big things happen here."

Plus that new crosswalk, which it titled Unicorn Art Theory and was designed by local artist Ricardo Paniagua (he of the colorful Super Deluxe mural). It's Dallas’ first fabricated art crosswalk, and reinforces UDI's commitment to bringing art into the public realm. It also shows how Uptown Dallas Inc. is always looking for ways to make its neighborhood more vibrant and walkable.

Snapping pics around Uptown? Don't forget to use the hashtag #ArtInUptown or check out UDI's Instagram for inspiration. Culture Map


O'side middle schooler brings art to sick children nationwide

OCEANSIDE, NY: Sixth grader Autum Blois realized the therapeutic power of art first-hand as a patient in the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Inspired by art therapy programs in the hospital where she was forced to make extended stays due to a chronic illness, Autum was able to find solace in art, specifically drawing. According to Autum’s mother, Maureen, art helps her daughter — who is autistic — express herself. “For Autum, sometimes she can’t communicate what is wrong but she can through art, sometimes when you’re in the hospital it is hard to say why you’re sad,” she said.

The only problem was that her voracious appetite for art required plenty of supplies, something that the hospital was not well equipped with. Frustrated with the lack of resources, Autum grew determined to help other kids who may be dealing with the same issue. That is when Autum started Autum’s Colors, a program to supply sick children with bags of art supplies in the hope that they could draw as much strength and joy from art as Autum does.

An Oceanside resident, her project has reached children as far as Ohio, delivering bags to children in the same hospital that inspired Autum to begin her project. Autum raises money for the Autum’s Colors through a gofundme.com page, she also receives support from Oceanside School No. 3 and No. 6 where in 2016, month-long art drives were held to collect supplies. Locally, Autum’s Colors has reached children at South Nassau Communities Hospital.

Inside every bag are various supplies, including crayons, pencils, a coloring book and an art pad. Autum never liked when the hospital only had coloring books and no place for her to draw freely. As a result, she always makes sure to give children the option to color outside the lines. Also included in the bags is a card with an email address for children to reach Autum and send their artwork.

Autum’s Colors has delivered over 1,300 bags of art supplies to hospitals, providing other children with a medium for expression and therapy that Autum enjoys so much. If you would like to support Autum’s Colors donate to her gofundme page at www.gofundme.com/rw2k5w6x LI Herald