April 28, 2011 in Washington Voices

Groups seek to create dialogue, social change through art

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From left, John Robertson, Naaman Cordova-Meunzberg, Nicole Wallace and Anna Bacon prepare carts and plants from Fresh Abundance for a food awarness show on Wednesday. The carts will be on display at The Grow Show at Kolva-Sullivan Gallery on May 6.
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Art quote of the week

“Many persons have the wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

– Helen Keller

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Last year, tree stumps were placed randomly on the streets of downtown Spokane. On the tree stumps sat glass jars filled with clear liquid and long bubble making wands. Words on the jar explained: “Leave a sorrow behind you. Remember the innocence inside you.”

This is the kind of thing that “Boys Who Like Butterflies” and “Black Rabbit Magic,” two groups that attempt to instigate dialogue and social change through visual and interactive means, do.

The groups work with other artists, nonprofit organizations, and anyone else who desires to join in their missions of enriching communities through socially engaging art projects, not for the sake of commerce but bettering the quality of life. “Our focus is empowerment, healing, and enrichment of communities through intentionally focused projects,” Cordova-Muenzberg said, “Art has social ramifications beyond capitalist means. It can educate and change others.”

Though different entities, the two groups often overlap. Boys Who Like Butterflies are two artists, John Robertson and Naaman Cordova-Muenzberg, who create together. BRM, which describes itself as a “curatorial team” comprised of artists Jillian Foster, Cordova-Muenzberg and you, is a broader manifestation of their ideals. Since Foster moved to Portland a year ago, BRM has expanded to other communities. The next event called the “Grow Show” will include communities in Portland, Olympia, and Tacoma and entails decorated shopping carts filled with small gardens.

The shopping carts are affiliated with different organizations. Local organizations include P.E.A.C.H. (People for Environmental Action and Community Health) working with Fresh Abundance, the Youth Sustainability Council, Vinegar Flats Community Garden, River House (an informal collective of accomplished artists) and Jamie Hyams in support of community gardens. The show is a visual attempt to educate others about growing and buying locally. The cart itself is a representation of the large stores where people tend to buy without thinking of global ramifications. The carts will eventually be traded and displayed in other communities. One will be auctioned off in support of P.E.A.C.H.

The “Grow Show” will start on May 6, with a sidewalk parade beginning at Fresh Abundance, 2015 N. Division St., and ending at the Kolva Sullivan Gallery, 115 S. Adams St. The sidewalk procession will be a moving visual concept meant to lead others to new ways of thinking about art and their community. “It’s about human interaction,” Foster said. “We do it just to do it and perhaps make little changes in the world.”

The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. Contact correspondent Jennifer LaRue at jlarue99@hotmail.com.

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