The Belmont Utility Box design at the corner of 6th and E. Catawba was a collaborative public art project with the residents of Holy Angels that serendipitously came together. It proves that people of all abilities can create enjoyable art without any quality control necessary. Art is in everyone.
Bliss Gallery was created by Holy Angels so their residents can showcase art alongside the works of guest artists like Bree Stallings and myself. Click here to learn more. After our 2019 show “Sacred Spaces,” Bree and I wanted to find a way to work with the residents again.
I firmly believe we should treat people of all abilities and ages with the same dignity and respect. The residents’ marks on paper are just as valuable as anyone else’s, and they deserve to be trusted with their own artistic journey.
Bree and I led an experiential pastel rubbings workshop with the residents. It was important to me to manage the process, but not the participants. They were free to explore downtown and capture textures like the street grates, railroad tracks, buildings, and crosswalks. Then everyone took their rubbings back and painted on top of them with watercolor. They had creative freedom from start to finish and created beautiful compositions of texture and color without much guidance.
A little while afterward, Harmony from Bliss Gallery reached out and told us about a possible opportunity to share the residents’ art with many others. The Downtown Belmont Development Association was looking for artists to submit work to wrap eight utility boxes downtown under three themes: Rail, Water, and Innovation. Bree created a composite design of the residents’ work and submitted a design entitled “The Catawba Water Us and We Honor It.”
In a public judging process, the people of Belmont chose this work to represent Water for the River District. Even better, the designs were presented to the public anonymously. The art from Holy Angels proudly stood on its own merit, proving that art transcends all abilities.