RSVP Magazine November 2008
November issue of RSVP Magazine.
VOX POPULAR a clue about how to go about it, so that’s where I can come in and do pro bono coaching to community groups and guide them through the process and build a plan that’s going to be feasible and sustainable. What touched me most among all these different community groups is that the first that called me were the Binghampton Development Corporation and the Frayser Interfaith Association. Now those are probably the two most denigrated areas in the local press about poverty, crime, and violence, but there are people in those communities that are passionate about their home and they want to make a difference and want it to be better, and they’re not going to satisfy themselves by shaking their head and saying, “Oh, woe is me.” RSVP: Do you think the UrbanArt Commission’s move to 2549 Broad Avenue better serves the organization’s needs? Weeden: Oh yeah, completely. Where we were downtown was really very inaccessible. People had to pay to park. You had to walk kind of too far sometimes. It was really loud in that space…you couldn’t hear yourself think, you really couldn’t have a conversation. We didn’t have a conference room that you could darken fully, so you could never get a good read on the slides we were trying to show. Just those little, practical details really hampered what we were trying to do, and also, the perception of an office building feels corporate and almost impersonal, whereas here, we have a store front. It’s a onestory building. We have our front door signage for the first time ever, so we can really proclaim our anchorship here and our pioneer attitude of this neighborhood. The surrounding businesses and the business association has really encouraged us to use this block as a demonstration block of “this is what good art and design can do to a previously neglected area; let’s show you what can happen in your neighborhood.” We’re the 12th art and design related business within a quarter mile of the urban city, and there are more on the way. RSVP: What are some new projects coming up? Weeden: Well, Beale Street Landing, we’ve got two projects that will be part of that. A woman named Carolyn Braaksma from Boulder, Colorado; she is doing a bas-relief polished, concrete piece for the walls going down to the river. Then a guy named Evan Lewis from Chicago is making a large, iconic metal sculpture, which will be a kinetic piece in the plaza on the actual bluff. We received funds from the city to build a project in Chickasaw Heritage Park, which is right by the National Ornamental Metal Museum. We’re in talks with the parks department now about developing a project for the Wolf River Greenway, which will link downtown to Shelby Farms. The one that’s going to be super cool and have the most immediate impact, I think, and will be the most high profile thing in quite some time is a project we’ve been developing with Rhodes College to develop a mural on the side of a building that sits in left field of Redbirds Stadium. It actually faces Madison and is five stories tall and 150 feet wide. The building’s owner, Chick Hill, wanted to do something to make a difference in the look and feel of 48 RSVP NOVEMBER 2008