Ekphrasis – a symphony of words and images!

By Jenuine Poetess

In 2015 Central Texas Artist Collective (CTAC) brought the community together with an exhibit centered around Birds imagery and themes.  Over 45 artists across diverse mediums entered, some for the first time ever.  This year, CTAC is once again bringing a fresh, dynamic, and collaborative art exhibit to Waco.  Ekphrasis! is a creative adventure pairing visual artists and writers together—selected at random to collaborate—creating art and poetry to be displayed in shop windows along Austin Avenue in Downtown Waco.

ekphrasisNot only are over 50 artists and writers involved in this thrilling project, but over 15 businesses will host artwork and their accompanying poems for the first two weeks of August.  On First Friday, community will have a chance to tour the exhibit and place their votes for Best in Show; Most Inspiring; and Waco/Downtown Spirit awards.  On Saturday August 6th, there will be a reading of all the Ekphrasis poems, live music, a tour of the exhibit, and an awards ceremony.

As far as we know, this kind of endeavor has never been attempted in the history of Waco—bringing so many facets of our city together for the purpose of art, expression, and building community!

I recently had an opportunity to have a virtual dialogue with three of the participants, poet Nicole Metts of Central Texas; fiber artist, Dana Helms of Oklahoma; and poet/spoken-word artist, Audrey Hamlin of Central Texas.  They shared with me a bit about how they came to be involved with this exhibit and their experience being paired with another creator and working as a team to submit their work.

Jenuine Poetess: What inspired you to join this creative adventure?

Nicole Metts: I was inspired by your art/writing combination because I love them both. I have used this technique to give my work much more depth at school.

Dana Helms: I have my great grandmother, Gongie (gone-ghee), to thank for my love of the tactile art in my life. She introduced me to so many artistic abilities when I was young; crochet, painting porcelain, gold leaf, and much much more. She would get frustrated I’m sure but would never let that stop her from teaching me.

Audrey Hamlin: I wanted to expand my horizons as a poet, and Ekphrasis seemed like the perfect way to do it. I find that when I write alone, my writing is inevitably limited to my personal experiences, surroundings, and perceptions.

JP: What are some initial thoughts you had about the process–of a collaborative exhibit, of being randomly partnered with another artist/writer, of creating new work with a new person?

NM: I was the lucky one! My poem came first and Dana Helms (my artist partner) has been showing me her work on a beautiful tapestry as it is coming together. I feel truly blessed to have such an amazing artist turn my poem into a visual piece.

DH: I was a performer at an event in Waco a while back and met some of the nicest artists. They were inviting and interesting. At the time, my husband and I were thinking of moving to Waco. They extended an invitation to me and the whole concept of Ekphrasis was too interesting to pass up.

AH: Honestly, I was initially intimidated by the process of the exhibit. I struggle to consider myself someone worthy of collaborating with, so it was a strange concept to sign up to work with an actual artist when I didn’t consider myself one. However, I decided it would be an act of self-love and courage to do so.

JP: Will you share a bit about your process so far – meeting/connecting with your partner, coming up with an idea, how you conceptualized your respective pieces, etc…?

NM: Besides Dana talking with me about her progress on the tapestry, we have also been coming up with a flyer to define Ekphrasis together. It has been a truly joyful and inspiring experience.

fiber art

Figure 1Detail of Dana Helms Ekphrasis fiber art

DH: My process so far has been totally amazing! I agreed to be part of the show and was paired with Nicole Metts. Next I received her poem and was immediately inundated with ideas in both the Fiber and animation world. Nicole shared some of her likes (i.e. Colors, and steampunk) and I went from there with emailing a sketch then an in progress image. She has been very encouraging and supportive. I am hoping to collaborate more with her on an animation film short to submit to film festivals and multi-media shows in museums.

AH: Christy Town and I met at Tea2Go (as all Waco artists do) a couple weeks ago. We started by discussing our respective work. Christy told me that she was an abstract artist, which excited me because I have always been moved more by abstract art. After seeing some examples of her art and talking about my poetry, we started talking about reoccurring images in my poetry (phoenixes, stained glass windows). From there, we decided that we would continue with the themes of some of my past poetry about interpersonal violence and play with the images of phoenixes and stained glass as images of renewal. Since then, we have been playing with various ideas in both art and poetry. I have developed a near-final draft of the poem that steals some lines and concepts from old poetry, while also exploring some new ideas from Christy’s inspiration. I am currently in the process of playing with some formatting. As I am accustomed to sharing my poetry typically through spoken word, I am excited to find a way to present this piece visually rather than orally.

JP: How has this project challenged you—pushed you beyond the bounds of your routine creative process?

NM: The flyer has been a challenge. It was difficult to come up with a truly unique perspective; but I love a challenge and am thankful for the experience.

DH: I am usually a face to face kind of person. I like to get a sense of who the writer is and where they come from. So this has completely thrown me outside of my comfort zone. Which is a very good thing for anyone to do frequently! I feel very mentally expanded right now. It’s very riveting!!!

AH: This project has challenged me by allowing me for the first time to acknowledge myself in a significant way as a writer and poet. It has also challenged me in the way that collaboration always does: it is an adventure to see something as dear to me as my writing through the eyes of another artist who I respect.

JP: How has/is this project shaped/shaping you as an artist/writer?

NM: This project has helped me grow and build skills as a writer and has also introduced me to some amazing inspiring people.

JP: What value does this kind of project /exhibit have for artists & for our city? 

NM: Waco and the arts community should be truly proud of this project. This partnership between artist and writer will bring its audience a truly unique and memorable experience. 

DH: Putting writers and visual artists together will allow for a more inclusive community. To open a dialogue between word smiths and visuals is to grow a collaborative that will do the unimaginable. I would have never thought of this piece or the animation without reading Nicole’s work

AH: I think this exhibit will open the eyes of locals and visitors to the amazing community of artists in the Waco area. Waco is, like any city, often defined by a handful of people and events that don’t capture the entirety of its diversity. I think it is so easy for all of us to see Waco and think of Baylor or Fixer Upper, both of which just scratch the very surface of what Waco is. Waco is a sum of all of its parts, and that includes the artistic expression that it inspires.

JP: What would you like Waco to know about this exhibit and /or arts & community in general? 

NM: This type of project truly brings people together with a common bond to bring culture to Waco and is an ingenuous event that should not be missed.

AH: I would like Waco to recognize the beauty that comes from a group of people coming together to bring their respective talents together to make art. In a world full of so much hate and violence, I think collaborations like this, artistic or not, are exactly what community is about. I hope that this exhibit inspires the people of Waco to collaborate with one another. Something truly magical happens when diverse groups of people get together and share their stories, their talents, and their unique perspectives. This exhibit is just one manifestation of that.

JP: Would you do something like this again?

NM: I would absolutely do something like this again and I have enjoyed every moment of it! I also hope Dana Helm and I will be doing other projects together in the future.

DH: I would definitely love to do something like this again!! I’m IN!!!  I am bringing some of my husband’s colleagues with me to the show. They can’t stop talking about it with him at work. It’s a great idea!!

AH: Absolutely!

Get Involved:

  • First Friday :: August 5, 2016 :: Stroll along Austin Avenue and cast your votes for :

o   BEST IN SHOW

o   MOST INSPIRING

o   WACO/DOWNTOWN SPIRIT


Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW)an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at: j[email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Abandonment : on making and sharing art

by Jenuine Poetess

art abandonIn May, Central Texas Artist Collective co-founder, Angie Veracruz challenged Waco artists to engage in a global project called Art Abandonment. The idea for participating was born after a conversation Angie had with a new Waco transplant, artist Christy Town, who first introduced the idea to CTAC.  What a thrilling chain of creative events!

Art Abandonment was founded by artist Michael deMeng in 2012.  What began as a small project among a circle of friends has since grown into an international movement of creating and giving away art.  It’s a movement motivated by beauty, generosity, and the very best of our nature as humans.  The idea is simple: create art, leave it for someone to find.  The goal is anonymous acts of kindness through art.  While the artists are encouraged to sign their work and post art drops on a Facebook group page—with over 28,000 members—the intention is to secretly leave work and quietly intersect every day with bursts of freely gifted art.  There are some basic templates of notes that many of us use to let the finder know this is a free gift they may take and enjoy, leave for someone else, or pass along to someone in need.

splashesAfter Angie shared with the CTAC community, I set about to create some of my first pieces.  The idea of leaving secret art surprises all over Waco is right up my ally.  I found it thrilling to work with small canvases—starting at 3” and 4” square—there is something so very freeing about working with a small space.  There’s no pressure to fill up so much canvas!  I’m still quite amateur in the visual arts department, but abandoning art is not focused on the caliber of art but rather the act of giving away our creations for the joy of others!  The items pictured here are some abstract watercolors I did, about 4×4” each.  I found that as I began creating work to abandon, I wanted to make more and more!  It has become one of my new favorite things to do and I give myself at least one day a month dedicated to making art to abandon.  There is a kind of meditative practice that goes with letting go creations and not knowing the outcome of who received it, what they think of it, how they responded, or what they did with it.

There is an option for finders to email their discovery and they are periodically posted on the Facebook group.  More often than not, the corresponding stories are poignant accounts of people in a moment of pain, stress, or challenge who encounter the art and receive much needed hope, encouragement, and kindness.  It is a wonder to imagine the impact a small creation can have in the life of another person.

you found itA few weeks after Waco artists took to this project, Angie Veracruz found one such abandoned piece, by photographer and illustrator, Michelangelo Flores.  Every artist has their own style of abandoning artwork, just as they do creating it.  Flores opted to hide his work and offer clues geocache-style to its whereabouts.  Looks like it was a successful route to take!   Veracruz opted not to leave any clues as to the location of the work she has abandoned in Waco.  I have left clues on my Facebook page and Twitter, but they are pretty broad and would lead to an adventure should anyone undertake to search the city for art!

rocksI love the community feel of this project.  Anyone can abandon any hand-made item.  There are textile and yarn arts abandoned; some artists create stone or leaf designs they leave on beaches and forest paths; other artists create for a cause to raise awareness for a specific issue.  The Peyton Heart Project raises awareness for suicide and bullying by abandoning crocheted hearts as love notes for anyone in need of a reminder that who they are in the world matter­­s.  Art in every kind of medium has been abandoned—some for the sheer aesthetic, some with a heartfelt message.  I recently abandoned some affirmation rocks painted with acrylic paint and as a result, became connected with the Love is Action Movement at Word Rocks.  I shared the Art Abandonment project with my colleague, Salley Schmid, a therapist who integrates art process into her work with clients and once a month we have a creative jam session to make pieces to abandon.

As a collective of artists, we hope that Art Abandonment will take root in Waco as more artists create and gift their work to the world.  I find a deep satisfaction in the practice and plan to continue.  If you wish to learn more or participate, check out the website.  If you need a daily dose of what is truly good and kind and noble in the world, join the Facebook group and soak up the wonder!  The group page will also give ideas of what people abandon and affirm that anyone can create something to share with others!

Get Involved:

In addition to starting your own Art Abandonment practice, there are a number of other ways you can get involved with arts in Waco this month!

  • Creative Waco has compiled an extensive list of summer art camp opportunities for kiddos of all ages.  Click here to learn more.
  • Thursday June 9th: CTAC will be holding an information meeting Thursday June 9th 5:30pm at GWAMA to discuss their upcoming Ekphrasis Word & Image Collaborative Exhibit and call for submissions!  More details about the exhibit and call can be found here.
  • Thursdays in June: This Thursday continues the Writer’s Garett FREE creative writing workshop for Veterans—using writing as a means for exploring and expressing personal narratives of hope and healing.  More information online here.
  • Thursday June 9th: 5:30-8:30pm Art Center of Waco hosts an opening reception for the MCC Visual Arts Student Exhibit.  More details here.
  • Saturday June 11th: Jenuine Poetess will be facilitating a FREE creative writing workshop: I am/I am not :: writing/righting/riting our stories at the InterWaco & Equality Texas PRIDE day at West Waco Library from 3-5pm in the large conference room. More details online here.
  • Saturday June 11th: Waco Poets Society host queer Filipino-American poet, Kai Coggin who will be visiting us from Arkansas to feature at open mic.  7pm at Rufi’s Cocina.  FREE and open to all creative expression including rap, poetry, music, spoken-word, freestyle, story-telling, hip-hop and more!
  • Thursday June 16th: Singer/Songwriter Braden Guess features at Waco Poets Society open mic at Tea2Go at 7pm.  FREE and open to all creative expression including rap, poetry, music, spoken-word, freestyle, story-telling, hip-hop and more!
  • Saturday June 18th: The Writer’s Garett in partnership with the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment of the Arts presents a FREE panel discussion on Writing as a Healing Practice with authors: Ruth Pennebaker, Leila Levinson, Jack Woodville London, and Jenuine Poetess.  1-2:30pm at the West Waco Library more details here.

Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW)an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at: j[email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

 

 

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Creating Wellness – a collaboration of art and healing

By Jenuine Poetess

lady I have the immense joy of working with a professional colleague who is not only a gifted mental health clinician, but also a talented artist—across a number of disciplines.  As I joined Enrichment Training and Counseling Solutions we moved into a new suite of offices–a space which has afforded the creation of a therapeutic art studio.  In this month’s Arts & Culture Blog,  I share with you an interview I did with Salley Schmid, LMFT about her use of art in session with clients.

Jenuine Poetess: Please share a bit about yourself generally—as an artist, as a therapist, as a person with various roles/identities.

Salley Schmid:  I am a child of God, daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, therapist, student, trainer, business owner, and artist.  I guess since I have done three triathlon events, I can say I am a triathlete as well.  But that one is hard for me to believe.  That would fill a whole different article though so I will leave it at that.  I love being outdoors, music, long meaningful conversations, learning, drawing, painting, kayaking, cycling, swimming, the beach the mountains and living life out loud.  I once was silenced, but no more.

enoughI have not had formal training as an artist.  I grew up around constant expressions of creativity from my mother and my three older sisters.  My oldest sister studied art formally.  One of my greatest lessons in life came from a high school art teacher.  Ironically, one of my most painful moments came from the same place.  The great lesson was after making a mistake on a watercolor painting.  I was painting a face.  I dropped a huge blob of red paint in the middle of the face.  I asked my instructor for new paper so that I could start over.  She refused to let me start over.  She said I had to work with it and make it work with the painting.  I ended up painting only part of the face and making it look like someone behind a door peeking through the window.  I was pretty mad at my teacher for not letting me start over, but in the end this painting was much better, much more interesting.  It now had mystery and intrigue and became one of my favorite paintings.  The painful experience came from somehow walking away from that class believing that I had no talent based on a single letter on a report card.  I let go of art for a long time after that.  And I really missed that part of me.  To this day, I struggle to make the statement that I am an artist.  Never the less; I AM AN ARTIST.courage

My first degree is a BS in Therapeutic Recreation.  Yes, that is a real degree.  I love the work I did in that degree.  I think it has made me much better as a therapist now because I am not afraid to tap into experiential ways of processing and wrestling with life’s challenges.  That’s why and how I began to takes risks with incorporating art and other creative expressive outlets into the therapeutic process.  Art has helped many of my clients tap into deep emotions that words could not connect with or give a voice to.

JP:  How did you first connect with art?  What about art as an expression drew you in?

SS:  I remember sewing by hand what my mother called yoyo’s while sitting on the ping pong table in the basement, my mother at the sewing machine and the TV filled with soap operas, often Dark Shadows.  That’s my earliest creative memory.  From then on, I was creating whenever I could.  I created in the kitchen, I would spend hours on the floor sketching.  I loved to decorate my room and come up with creative ways to paint an accent wall, which my mother thankfully indulged.  I can’t remember my life without art.  Art has always tapped into my soul and given life to emotion when words failed.  Art has helped me find, recognize and express emotions that I had hidden from myself.  Art has brought healing to me.  I often see the world in paint strokes, colors and shadows.  I catch myself staring at things, people, nature . . . sketching always in my mind, studying the lines, the light and the shadows.

JP:  How did you come to integrate creative process with your therapeutic process?

yellowSS:  Perhaps first through the use of art in my own healing process after a difficult emotionally abusive marriage, followed by a volatile divorce.  I painted my way through and out of the pain.  I found that I loved different mediums for different emotions.  Distressing emotions were best expressed in textured thick acrylic, where I preferred watercolor for hope and free spirited forward movement in my healing journey.  Oddly, my first divorce painting is acrylic but became an expression of hope contrary to my plan when I began the painting.  It’s an abstract expression of what feels like painful brokenness but is actually the pathway to the light and hope and living vibrantly.

waterI was convinced when I began private practice that art was to be a part of how I worked with people, but I was afraid to introduce it initially.  Gradually one person at a time, one step at a time, I began to incorporate art.  One of my first clients was a big burly man who was at a loss for words.  I handed him a pencil and a sketch pad and told him to put the pencil to the paper and see what came out.  It was profound and his insights were pivotal.  Each time I introduce art to the therapeutic process I am affirmed in this work and the therapeutic relevance and power of visual creative expression.

JP:  What do you see as the value of incorporating art into the therapy journey?

SS:  Because art has a way of giving a voice to experiences that occurred before the age of language and because the soul is more emotion than cognitive thought, art is the best matched medium for many to connect healing to pain.

knife neckJP:  What are some of the most significant moments/experiences you’ve had with art?

SS:  The experiences I shared earlier from high school for sure.  My “divorce” paintings as I call them were significant both in the power of expression, clarity and healing as well as reclaiming a lost part of my soul.  Those were very healing and the first time I let myself express myself through art in more years than I can count.  The artist in me was one thing stomped out by the emotionally abusive relationship.  I think because I became so numb and empty.  Now, giving others an emotionally safe place, space and opportunity to find healing through art, brings me joy and affirmation.  I water sidewayspersonally feel most full after sessions where a client gave expression, gained insight or found a path toward healing through art in therapy.  Additionally, I find I do my most emotionally honest work and healing through art.  My head swims with ideas.

JP:  What are your favorite mediums to play with?

SS:  Stained glass is actually one of my favorite mediums.  However, I have not done stained glass since my daughters were born 18 years ago.  The mood of what I am painting makes a big difference in what medium I like.  If I had to pick, I would say water color.

JP:  Would you share about a project you are working on or plan to work on in the future?

SS:  I have recently begun working on creating jewelry with therapeutic and inspirational meaning.  I am stamping words into metal, framing the metal with solder, and adding elements that capture mood, and meaning.   I hope to master this in a way that I can then engage my clients in creating their own pieces with what I call anchor words.  So for example, an anchor chicken wireword for me is PEACE.  I use this word by saying in times of distress “what would I be doing differently right now if I were acting from a place of peace”.  The jewelry is a beautiful reminder to use the anchor word.

I have a list of ideas that is constantly growing.  Images come to me in sessions from what client say sometimes.  When that happens I jot down a quick note.  Sometimes it becomes an assignment for the client, it inspires a page in the art journal I hope to publish.  Sometimes it becomes a piece that I create and give to the client.

JP:  What is something you wish more people knew about with regards to art and the therapeutic process?

SS:  The therapist does not always have to know the meaning in the client’s work.  We do not have to put words to every single thing.  Words matter, meaning is important.  As long as the art touches the client’s soul, has meaning for them, inspires them, creates a needed shift for them, it is worth doing.  It is a wise investment of self, both the self of the therapist and the self of the client.

JP:  What do you love about Waco?

SS:  When I first arrived in Waco, I thought, “Oh my gosh, where have I landed?”  In short order, however, I learned to love the community.  The small town feel, the entrepreneurial spirit, the friends, the ample opportunities to be involved in activities of all kinds from athletics, to art to food, to music, the list goes on.  I can’t see myself living anywhere else now.  I think we have such a gift in Cameron Park, Woodway Park, downtown.  I love to kayak and cycle, we have so many places and opportunities to engage in outdoor activity here.  We are a generous community too.  I see so much giving going on.  We are a community that creates opportunity, growth, and we are learning to embrace diversity.  I love my Wacotown!

be meJP:  What would you like to see more of in/around Waco?

SS:  More art of course.  I am super excited about the efforts being made to recognize Waco as a cultural arts hub.  I am about to launch my children into adulthood.  Scary, but also brings opportunities to get involved in things that I held back from in order to be home more.  I would love to see more draw to our community from surrounding areas and even out of state around the arts.  Opportunities to see art as it’s created, to buy local art, to hear local art – music and spoken.  I would love to see Waco on the map as a place for great food, music, art and opportunities to have a great day, great evening, great weekend, both indoors and outdoors.

JP:  Anything else on your heart to share?

SS:  I hope this inspires people to get involved in Waco, put some color on paper, engage in expressing themselves, and both invest in and indulge in the opportunities that abound here.


*All photos are of Salley Schmid’s original artwork, shared with permission for this blog.  Please do not copy or use without permission of the artist.


Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW)an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at: j[email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

 

 

Art Blooms in Spring!

by Jenuine Poetess

bluebonnetsThere’s no denying that Spring is an inspiring season in Central Texas. Having grown up in the north where Spring was such an emotional event—hope, finally! after so much cold, ice, snow, and darkness—I never really put much stock in the changing of seasons in places like Texas. That is, until I lived here and experienced the sheer delight and joy of a riot of color as bluebonnets, Indian paint brushes, and primroses splash their vibrant adornments across the landscape.

So as robins with their plumb red bellies and beloved wildflowers are the harbingers of a Central Texas Spring, so too a calendar chock full of dynamic events is the artists’ first bloom of a new season!

comicconTo kick off, the Heart of Texas Comic Con returns this weekend March 11-13th with artist vendors & live art-making on site, cosplay, food vendors, special guest appearances, and more there is something for comic lovers of every age!  And be sure to stop by the Central Texas Artist Collective (CTAC) to say “hi!” to some of your favorite artists and community organizers living and creating in Waco!

Also coming up this and next week are a number of Waco Poets Society (WPS) events including Nuestra Voz open mic on Saturday March 12th at 7:15pm at Rufi’s Cocina (which you may have seen in the most recent Waco Today!). Open mic is open to all creative expressions—poetry, story-telling, spoken-word, music, reflections, and more! On Tuesday March 15th, WPS is partnering with other artists to present Unsilent :: Survivor Stories, an evening of poetry & spoken word at survivors9:15pm at the Hippodrome on Austin Avenue in downtown Waco. This event is free and open to the public. There will be an opportunity to make a donation which will go to support the efforts of the Advocacy Center of Waco and the Family Abuse Center. In gratitude of the generosity of the Hippodrome donating their space for the event, attendees are encouraged to purchase concession items as a way to support our local business and make sustainable such partnerships between venue and programming! This event will have limited open mic spaces so please arrive at 9:15pm if you are interested in signing up to share 1 piece (2 minutes maximum).

If you have things to share and were not able to get on the list at Unsilent, the next WPS open mic will be Thursday March 17th at Tea2Go Waco-Baylor on S. 7th street with sign-ups opening at 7:15pm.   Again, this venue is open to music, poetry, story-telling, spoken-word, reflections, and more!

art on elmThis Saturday March 12th also marks the deadline for all art submissions for the annual Art on Elm neighborhood arts festival in East Waco Saturday April 9th from 10am-5pm. With live music, artist vendors, juried art exhibit, art activities, live art-making, food trucks and vendors this event is FREE and open to the public of all ages. Bring your friends, your family, your neighbors, and your funds to support local artists and enjoy the thriving creative culture Waco is growing!  If you are an emerging artists looking to take the next step into exhibiting and selling your artwork, have a conversation with Angie or Steve Veracruz of CTAC; they will support you through the process and provide you with all the details and tools you need to soar!  (Be sure to ask them about Paper Shoes the next time you see them!)

If you’re looking for some music to enrich your palette, consider taking in a concert with the Waco Symphony Orchestra. On Saturday, March 19th, they will feature 16-year-old violin prodigy Fiona Shea who will join the WSO to perform Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin & Orchestra and the Waco Symphony Youth Orchestra–celebrating their 25th Anniversary. Tickets are available for purchase here.

Live theater may be more your style and if so, check out the Waco Civic Theater’s Spring production of The Great Gatsby…make a swanky evening of it and dress up in your own best attire. To stay up-to-date on the season or to learn about how you can audition for their next show, please visit WCT’s site here.

Maybe you’re more interested in kicking back in a casual setting with some good food and drinks and a great band. If so, check out the Spring line-up on stage at The Backyard and Common Grounds.  Throughout this Spring, the Waco Hippodrome also has some live music offerings, as well as free film screenings–from the silly to the serious, and other performances to engage audiences of all ages.

food truckTo get you ready for all the excitement of Art on Elm, head out to Waco’s Downtown Heritage Square for the 2nd Annual Food Truck Showdown on Saturday April 2nd. Tickets and full schedule of all the delicious offerings and events are available here. Gates open at 10am and be sure to bring your appetite! There will of course be a food truck showdown/competition, live music, artist vendors, concert, and sunset screening outdoor movie! What a generous portion of goodies to savor!

rootstockAnd while you’re digesting this buffet of soul-nourishing and taste-bud pleasing offerings Waco is dishing up, mark your calendars for the Rootstock Texas Wine Festival on Saturday April 23rd put on by the Valley Mills Vineyards at Indian Spring Park. This event will include tastings from 14 Central Texas wineries to be followed by a special VIP dinner featuring the culinary artworks of Milo Biscuit Company! To purchase tickets for the day or festival and VIP dinner please visit here.

So whether you are an artist, a patron, an admirer, or one who simply enjoys delicious sights, sounds, and savors there is something to inspire everyone. Let us know how you’ll be enjoying the arts in Waco this Spring!


 

Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW)an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at: j[email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

 

Practically Pikasso: Creating Wellness & Fostering Community

by Jenuine Poetess

tables and floorI recently purchased a couple of plain end tables to use in my new office. I got them for a great (read: cheap) price at a local discount home goods store but they lacked a certain…something. As I was looking at them, the thought occurred to me, “These would look awesome with mosaic tops.” My second thought was how daunting it might be to try to find all the supplies to accomplish my creative goal myself. Happily, my third thought was, “I wonder if I could take these to Practically Pikasso and mosaic them there?” So I called, and they said, “Sure, come on over!”

I was thrilled! For a mere $6.00 studio fee I began my project to turn these somewhat drab tables into something delightful.

shelves with dishesBefore I continue, let me rewind and share a little back story. Practically Pikasso is, “an eclectic art studio” located in the shopping plaza at the intersection of Waco Drive and New Road. I have been there a few times before to paint pottery—which is one of their main offerings: a grand array of blank, white, ceramics in so many shapes and sizes ready for color and design. Their selection ranges from practical dishware, to specialty holiday décor, to character figurines, and intricate sculptures. There is no need to have any prior art experience, the knowledgeable and patient staff at Practically Pikasso will provide all the instructions, recommendations, and guidance needed to create your masterpiece! There is a vibrant array of ceramic glazes from which to choose including textured/flecked, smooth, and glass glazes in a rainbow of hues.

My mosaic project was divided into two segments over two days. Step one was to select my materials and create my desired design. There was a wide selection of materials to choose from including ceramic tiles of various shapes and sizes, glass beads, stained glass pieces, glass tiles, and mirror pieces. Once I determined my design—which took some time on my part to make sure that all the materials I was using would go together, had the same thickness so my finished table tops would be smooth and flat, and fit my design—then I needed to secure all the pieces onto my table top which I did with regular white craft glue (which dries clear). I also needed to be sure I left little channels between all my pieces where the grout would go in the second half of my project. The staff on duty during my first phase was helpful and patient with all my questions; he gave me excellent direction and assistance.

tables with mosaicI was excited to find the stained glass pieces among my options for mosaic. I have a special fondness for glass art as my grandmother was a stained glass artist. I also love how the pieces were swirled with a bit of white which yielded a lovely ocean and sky feel to me. I selected iridescent blue glass tiles for the outer border and then alternated iridescent glass with streaked stained glass in concentric squares. I was definitely channeling a beach vibe! With that, phase one was complete and I took the tables home to dry overnight.

glass fusingIn addition to the pre-made ceramics to paint, Practically Pikasso also offers glass fusing, mosaic, and hand thrown pottery projects and classes. This unique art space is the perfect place to unwind after a stressful day, catch up with friends, enjoy a date night out, or relish some adult/child bonding time for parents, mentors, and relatives alike! No reservations are needed for individuals and small groups (2-4 people) but larger parties may want to call ahead to be sure there is enough space. Large groups may also reserve the special party space for after work art happy hours, birthdays, parties, showers, and other special occasions. Practically Pikasso hosts a number of group events such as Girl & Boy Scout troops, School art classes, Greek gatherings, Corporate Team Building/Staff Retreats and more—groups may reserve a spot on location or Practically Pikasso will come to you!

PlateI was able to complete phase 2 of my project the next day after work. I brought my tables back to finish them with grout. I was able to choose from white, black, or grey grout. I went with the white to bring out the bright blues and mimic an island beach look. While I was grouting, I had the pleasure of meeting the owners, Marie and Russ. They hadn’t ever seen anyone bring in their own objects to mosaic so they were curious about my project. While I applied the grout across my project working it into every space and crevice, I asked Marie and Russ about how they came to own and run Practically Pikasso. Russ shared that as a medical practitioner he would often come to the studio to relax, unwind, and restore calm after particularly strenuous work days. He loved the atmosphere and ability to just sit down and begin working on a project. When the previous owner, Sam shared that she would be closing up shop, Russ began to consider the possibility of taking over the business. Both he and his niece shared a love for the place and didn’t want to risk losing such a treasure. After many conversations between Russ and Marie and Sam, they took the plunge and bought the business. They laughed as they shared the story with me—neither of them considered themselves artists or business owners both coming from medical professions. But they knew they wanted to preserve this space for the community and had the resources to do so.

Since they have taken over the business, they have added many shelves of ceramic selections to choose from as well as the other kinds of projects. Russ noted that one of the things he loves best is seeing people engage with each other,

“They come in and all the phones and devices stay put away. Here they talk together, laugh, share an experience with each other and in the end, have an art object they made to remember the occasion. I love seeing people slow down and reconnect here.”

Marie shared how after a long career in nursing, she loves the positive atmosphere and creating that happens. While she enjoyed the work she did as a nurse, she reflected that there are far fewer dangers and much more joy in this work adding, “and it really is relaxing—a kind of therapeutic or meditative activity.”

tables with groutThe exciting thing about mosaic work is the dramatic reveal. After all the grout has been filled my pieces looked quite the mess. Basically as though I had just smeared frosting all over my tables. My favorite part came next: cleaning off the tiles and smoothing the grout to reveal the sparkling finished project!

Pikasso logoPractically Pikasso is the only art space of its kind here in Waco and offers a much wider selection of items than many other studios in cities around Central Texas. Whether you’re looking for a fresh option to get together with friends, or you need a creative place to refresh on your own, check out what Practically Pikasso has to offer. They have a selection of Valentine’s Day themed pieces available this month just for you!

Specials!

  • Summer Kamp Classes for ages 6 and older: consider sending your creative ones to Kamp at Practically Pikasso this summer! With 8 sessions to choose from with different themes, there is sure to be something for everyone.
  • Mosaic Mondays: enjoy 10% off all mosaic projects every Monday
  • Tuesday Fuseday: enjoy 10% off all glass fusing projects every Tuesday
  • Wednesday Ladies Night: ladies enjoy $2 off regular studio fees all Wednesday night
  • Open Weekends! not free during the weekday? Come hang out on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Enjoy the music, and create something wonderful!

Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW)an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at: j[email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

 

Resolutions, Intentions, and Creating Wellness in 2016

by Jenuine Poetess

We’re almost two weeks into the New Year and for some, just hearing the word “resolutions” can cause eyes to roll and groans to emit. I know. It has become rather cliché. Even so, there is value in a ritual of reflection—gazing back on what we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve come, and there is an important humility in recognizing ways we have yet to stretch, grow, and become. A new year, new week, new month, new day are all great times to reflect, recalibrate, and resume our movements toward what it is that makes us come alive.

SCribblesAs an artist, fresh starts can look like raw clay, blank canvas, empty pages, a quiet studio, an open stage, a fresh roll of film (er…uh…or an empty memory card), a furnace of molten glass, a beautiful blank wall, skeins of untouched yarn, newly tilled soil, or folds of new fabric. Just the thought of any of these sends my heart trilling with the aroma of possibility.

Whether or not you are an artist (and not-so-secretly, I believe everyone can accomplish their work with artistry from mechanics to accountants, from care-givers to morticians) I challenge you to consider your creative health and how you will intentionally nourish this part of you throughout 2016.

art tablesWill you take in a night at the Waco Symphony or maybe attend or even participate in a Waco Community Band concert? Maybe you’ll spend some time at the Martin Museum of Art, or the Art Center of Waco, or the Anthem Studios—maybe you’ll attend an opening, or maybe you’ll head over on your lunch break, just an intimate rendezvous between you and art. Will you visit the theater, taking a play by Waco Civic Theater or a concert by the Central Texas Choral Society or enjoy a dose of laughter medicine at an improve show with the Brazos Theatre Group, maybe you’ll support emerging artists and see a show at Baylor or MCC or at Waco High, University High or Midway ISD?

Maybe you’ll hit the streets and meet new neighbors at Art on Elm Ave. or Waco Cultural Arts Fest enjoying all the fullness of free arts programming in Waco and maybe you’ll purchase a print, or a set of earrings, or a new mug, or an original art piece.  Maybe you’ll buy a Creative Waco tote hand-painted by a local artist, maybe you’ll by two—one for you and one for a friend. Maybe you’ll take a flower-arranging workshop at the World Hunger Relief Farm, or help out with the Urban Gardening Coalition.

art bagsstory tellerMaybe you’ll knit or crochet tiny hats for new babies, scarves for refugees, or blankets for an elder with the Waco Knitters & Crocheters. Maybe you’ll listen to some stories, even try your hand at your own at the Heart of Texas Storytelling Guild. Will you check out Maker’s Edge and laser cut, 3D print, or wood burn a fascinating piece for your home? Maybe you’ll stop by Central Texas Artist Collective’s painting in the park station one breezy day in the spring, or finally work up the courage to exhibit your work at Tea2Go or Rufi’s Cocina.

Maybe you’ll make your own ornament and learn a bit about blowing glass next December at Stanton Glass Studio. Maybe you’ll decide it’s time to finally get serious about that book you’ve always wanted to write and you’ll join In the Words of Womyn writing circle or maybe you’ll tackle NaNoWriMo with the Central Texas Writers’ League or take a workshop with the Heart of Texas Romance Writer’s. Maybe you’ve been quiet long enough and you’re ready to get up and perform at Waco Poets Society monthly open mics and maybe you’ll take in some world renown poets at the Beall Poetry Festival this spring.

glass ballMaybe you’ll volunteer at any number of community arts events or make a financial contribution so that we can all keep creating. Maybe you’ll help share events on social media, telling your friends and neighbors about arts and cultural opportunities nearby. Maybe you’ll make it a regular outing with a partner, some friends, or co-workers at Painting with a Twist or Practically Pikasso. Maybe you’ll bookmark this post so when you have a day with no particular plans, you’ll have some ideas for how to paint the town!

waco poetsMy goodness the arts are blooming in Waco! Even with all these options, I’m sure I didn’t capture them all. But that’s okay, this way you can do some exploring with an art adventure of your own—whatever you find, please be sure to share it with us so we can enjoy it too! I hope whatever your goals for 2016, that they include the arts, in any way, shape, form, or expression.

Thrive on!


Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW)an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at: j[email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

 

Art as Action: Creating Responses to Current Events

by Jenuine Poetess

conscience

(photo curtesy: JenuineArtworks. Salerno, Italy :: 100Thousand Artists for Change Global Conference, June 2015)

One of the oldest motivations of creativity is as a response to political circumstances and social justice issues. It is not the only inspiration, by any means, and not all artists engage their discipline in this way. Within the context of the mission and vision of Act Locally Waco the Arts & Culture blog seeks to present artists, events, and organizations which are practicing the intersectionality of creative expression, meaningful message, and local action.

heritage square

(photo courtesy: WacoPoetsSociety; People for Peace Open Mic Vigil, December 4, 2015)

On December 4, 2015, over 65 people showed up to offer poems, prayers, statements, songs, sacred texts, and calls to action. Waco gathered in response to global and domestic terrorism and violence; speaking out against hate, racism, discrimination of every kind, ignorance, and intolerance — with the intention of co-authoring an alternative narrative to our current dire situation.

That evening, our community co-created an exquisite artwork with Hopi prayers and Gospel songs, Athiest Holiday carols and passages of the Qur’an, original poetry and Bible verses, impromptu words from the heart and spoken-words of others not with us. One thing brought us together: the earnest desire to build a better city, a better community, a better world, for one another, in peace, in love, in truth, for justice.

we gather, because there are people rallying for hate, acting in violence, speaking out with ignorance.

we gather, because we must co-author an alternative narrative for our community, our society, our humanity.

we gather, because to remain unmoved, silent, disconnected, is to surrender to everything that threatens our thriving.

we gather, because anything less is a hypocrisy of love.

What an honor it is to hold such a sacred space.

speakerIn times when the world seems swirling and chaotic around us, it helps to know we can gather with others to express the spectrum of emotions that such profound events can elicit.   When words fail us we can turn to paint, music, dance, photography, sculpture, and any other medium that calls to us. We can work out our questions, knowing full well that there are often no answers. But with defiant resilience, we can make beautiful out of broken, and when we share what we have created, we remind ourselves and each other that we are not alone. Poem by poem, song by song, painting by painting we create the change we so deeply long for.

Get Involved:

Shop local and support artists living and creating in Central Texas

create rev

(Artist: Caroline Kelso, www.madevibrant.com; Quote: Elizabeth Gilbert)

Volunteer with an arts organization or collective


Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW)an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at: j[email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

 

Creative Waco: An Interview with Fiona Bond

by Jenuine Poetess

Creative Waco logoRecently, I had a chance to engage Creative Waco’s Director, Fiona Bond, to learn more about the project, its mission, and movements in Waco toward building and sustaining a thriving Cultural Arts District. I’m pleased to share the interview with you! More. Art. Now!

Jenuine Poetess: Please share a bit about yourself and how you became interested and involved in the arts in Waco.

Fiona Bond:   I’m in this because I love the arts and this city and have huge respect and
admiration for those who work so hard to enrich its artistic and cultural life. In the UK, I ran festivals, cultural projects and arts organizations. I guess no one goes into this kind of work for the money or an easy life! However, when you see first-hand the difference that the arts make to places and people – no matter who they are or where they come from, it’s humbling and powerful.

I love Waco for so many reasons. I think it’s one of the most authentic places I’ve ever lived. It’s a wonderful location full of great people doing great things and I think we get to live here at a particularly exciting time in its history.

JP: What is Creative Waco?

FB: We are a Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Corporation established to be Waco’s “Arts Agency.” Cities that have arts agencies have a proven toolkit for growing the arts that combines access to funding (that Waco has not historically received) with growing the arts as part of the overall strategy for our community. Our mission is “to Grow and support the artistic and cultural life of Waco.”

JP: How does Creative Waco serve artists, arts & cultural organizations, and grass-roots efforts in Waco?

FB: I hope we will be able to do this in a number of ways. Firstly, I think we have a role making sure that our wider community, businesses and civic organizations know the power of the arts and cultural sector as an engine for growing Waco. We want to bring new resources to our artists and arts organizations in the form of practical support and also funding and infrastructure that have not historically been available to grow Waco as a Cultural Hub.

artists creativesOf course, we are not the only organization that is working to serve our artists and cultural organizations. Each part of the cultural “ecosystem” has an important role to play – individual artists are connecting with one another through CTAC. Four Columns Marketing has a monthly “potluck” for creative professionals and Waco Arts Alliance (which we help to co-ordinate) provides opportunities for people who run arts organizations, cultural events and activities. These all do the important work of building community, supporting professional development, and creating opportunities for connecting on all kinds of great ideas.

JP: What are the main functions of CW?

FB: Right now, we are working on setting up the infrastructure that will allow Waco to be successful at creating some of the opportunities that have benefitted peer cities (like Fort Worth, Abilene, Amarillo and Round Rock…even Clifton!). For example, we are coordinating an application for Waco to be designated a Texas Commission on the Arts Cultural District. It also means working with our city and other agencies to start making bids for funding and other opportunities at state and national level. Here in Waco, we are beginning the work of coordinating resources, information and ideas so that we can grow Waco as a cultural hub…and tell the world.

JP: What are some projects CW is working on?

 FB: Here are a few…

  • Joint funding bids (e.g. with City for NEA funding towards artistic wayfinding that would join East and West Waco);
  • Cultural District Application–the work of establishing a robust organization that can act as Waco’s Arts Agency and co-ordinate the Cultural District.
  • We won the opportunity for Waco to be a feature city in Americans for the Arts’ national survey about economic impact of the Arts (funded jointly by our City, Chamber, BRC and CVB)
  • Making Waco a hub for professional development opportunities for arts leadership (Texans for the Arts Day on Feb 24th at Waco Hippodrome).
  • We are also working on making it easier for people in Waco to hear about the arts and artists through a variety of media outlets

JP: What is the place of arts & culture in community development? How important is arts & culture in comparison to work around poverty, education, employment, housing, and commerce?

FB: The arts do community development by their very nature because they are physical, experiential and creative. One of my past roles was to oversee a project that worked with generations of unemployed former mineworkers in Co Durham, England. The arts input gave hope and developed skills in a way that nothing else could. You see this over and over again. Issue-based drama and role-play do a better job of reaching vulnerable teens than telling them what to do, for example. The arts give us language and tools for asking questions, experimenting with complexity and outcomes, and opening up our humanity in ways that are completely unique. There is a lot of research that shows communities with a vibrant arts and cultural life thrive in all the ways we consider vital for “liveability”: Educational outcomes, revitalization, economic development, tourism, community cohesion and pride and even crime reduction. I have yet to see a community in the Western world that managed to “move the needle” on those issues without engaging its artistic and cultural “superpowers.”

JP: What do you hope to see come to life in Waco/Central Texas with regard to the arts?

FB: I would like Waco’s cultural gems to be better known and better supported. We have World-class artists, composers, performers, writers, and experts…right here in Waco and yet there is still a perception that because something is happening in Waco, it’s not quite as good as something presented in a larger or better known city.

I would like to see people who don’t think they care about the arts speak proudly about the vibrant cultural life of our city and relish investing in that and seeing the results, recognizing that it’s an essential part of the healthy growth of our community (just as even non-sports players invest in the important role that sport has in our community).

I would like Waco, with it’s perfect “crossing of the Brazos,” central Texas location to become a flourishing cultural hub for the 21st century – supporting thriving, sustainable, top notch venues and programming across many art forms. Our economic opportunity is not that we are conveniently close to Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and other cultural centers…it is that they are close to us!

Get Involved!

  •  ToteConnect on Facebook and Online to get the latest details, information, and event postings!
  • If you are an artist interested in being featured on the Creative Waco site, connect here!
  • Support arts in Waco and purchase a blank, painted, or fully customized Creative Waco tote!

Be involved with local arts events: attend, bring friends, buy local artwork & publications, share events with others, help promote what is happening, donate to fund-raising initiatives, visit exhibits, make art, inspire others, create community!


Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW)an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at: [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

 

Art and Community : on Creating Sustainable Community Through Relationships

By Jenuine Poetess

This past Saturday a collection of seven very diverse individuals—some strangers, who had never met each other before—gathered together and shared a meal, poetry, artwork, dialogue, and selves. Why did they meet up? What compelled them to circle around several tables pushed together in the back room of a local family restaurant, Rufi’s Cocina?

Art.

It was art that called us together this weekend. Waco Poets Society Nuestra Voz open mic to be more precise. We gathered around a shared interest in creative expression—both the needing to create and the needing to share. Over home-made nachos and panbazos, we exchanged verses. We also engaged in conversation enriching our expressions with narratives and backstories about grief, struggle, names, hopes, dreams, losses, disabilities, mental health, identities, and much more. Our sharing unified us in resounding, “me toos” of recognition and validation.

You see when we choose to be vulnerable in sharing our stories—in whatever medium they are manifest: word, image, movement, sound, object—we invite others in to our experiences. We are mirrors–where we can see our own radiant reflections in one another. We extend a hand to assist another to cross over, for a moment, into our own shoes. More often than not, what we discover, is a familiar story.

These moments cultivate relationships. We gathered on Saturday as strangers and we departed with hugs and warmth and calling each other by name. We were known by one another. What a remarkably transformative art-work!

ash craig leg kick

(photo credit: JenuineArtworks, at Nuestra Voz open mic, Rufi’s Cocina, October 10, 2015)

When I came to Waco, TX, in 2012 there was not much that I could find in the way of community open mics and arts opportunities. As a result of conversations I had with a handful of writers I met, it became clear that there was a need and desire for regular written and spoken-word arts programming. Because of a relationship I had with someone, they recommended I contact Katie Croft, of the then, Croft Art Gallery on Austin Avenue about the possibility of holding events there. In 2013 I founded Waco Poets Society and began holding open mic and ITWOW writing circle at the gallery weekly. At the end of the year it was time to find a new venue as the gallery was making transitions of it’s own. Through my relationship with Brook Hampton, owner and visionary of Enchanted Cedar, we collaborated to bring open mic to Lorena, Texas, at this most magical tea house. I met and became friends with community organizer, Fernando Arroyo who introduced me to the Art Forum of Waco and later, to Eric Gama, owner of Rufi’s Cocina where we now have monthly open mics. During my monthly Word Around Waco booth at Waco Downtown Farmers’ Market one Saturday I met artists, Angie Veracruz and Steve Veracruz. As we began to talk we formed the beginnings of an inspiring friendship that bloomed into the founding of Central Texas Artist Collective and all the subsequent projects, exhibits, pop-up painting in the park events, and empowering of artists to thrive into their creativity that have transpired since its founding in February 2015. Steve reached out to a new business, Tea 2 Go and we collectively began to collaborate as Angie and Steve curate visual art exhibits in the tea shop and I hold monthly open mic events.

Many of the people who are my creative colleagues are people I read about in the paper and cold called/emailed asking if I could buy them a cup of coffee. I asked if I could sit with them to learn more about the work that they are doing here in Waco and how I could get involved and serve alongside them. Seriously.

We have a lot of conversations and meetings and summits and strategy sessions and consultants around the questions of ushering our city and surrounding areas into prosperity. As long as we couple all of that with seeking out and building up of authentic and intentional relationships—especially with those who have different stories and creative expressions that are unique from ours—then we, as a community, will indeed be on a path toward thriving.

I have such pride and joy looking over the years since I arrived in Texas. I am deeply grateful for the relationships that make so many rich programs possible. It is our collective visioning and volunteering, it is our friendships and conversations, it is our willingness to literally sit down and listen to one another share stories, which is transforming the landscape of our community.

Get Involved:

Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW)an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at: [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

 

Waco Cultural Arts Festival: Be inspired. Create community.

by Jenuine Poetess

Every year, on the last weekend of September, artists across every genre and medium gather in an expression of creativity the likes of which is rarely beheld in one time and place. 2015 marks the 11th Annual Waco Cultural Arts Festival (WCAF) which encompasses six, yes six, complete festivals in one: MusicFest, {254}DanceFest, WordFest, ScienceFest, Celebration Africa FilmFest, and the original ArtsFest  —  a juried visual arts compendium of high caliber artists from across Texas and beyond!

Each year, the WCAF adds new and exciting featured artists, interactive opportunities, and thrilling installations to the veritable feast of the senses that is each festival. Here I’ll note some of this year’s highlights in the hopes that Waco, McLennan County, and Central Texas will take advantage of this free public festival welcoming all ages to imagine, inspire, and create together!

MusicFest

guitarThe 2015 WCAF MusicFest will feature both locally loved and nationally known musicians on the mainstage Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! Local favorites include, Never Native, The Union Revival, Venus Envy, and MOJO Assassins. Central Texas String Academy and Choral Society will take to the stage Saturday and Sunday. Saturday evening showcases appearances by Joel Laviolette and Rattletree Marimba, Encore!, and Tequila Rock Revolution and Sunday closes out the festival with headliner, Joel McCray Jazz Group. What a diverse musical menu!

{254}DanceFest

dancersEach year the Out on a Limb Dance Company selects outstanding, unique, and “off the grid” dancers from across the country to perform on Waco’s stage. One favorite feature is the {254} Choreography Dance Exchange, a program connecting dancers and choreographers from around Texas and Oklahoma. {254}DanceFest includes free performances, lecture/workshops, dance jams, and classes (for only $5).

WordFest

word festFor the first time ever, WordFest will feature a Texas Commission on the Arts poet, Sarah Cortez. Hailing from Houston, TX this police-officer-turned-poet will present workshops for children and adults alike and will feature a solo reading followed by a Q & A. Other highlights of this year’s event include a 2015 WordFest Anthology reading to kick off the weekend Friday evening, 100Thousand Artists for Change Open Mic on Saturday evening, and a special Her Texas reading and Q & A on Sunday Afternoon. With workshops, panel discussions, Ink Café, community open mics, and local authors selling and signing their works, WordFest is sure to offer something for writers of every age and every genre from poetry to fiction to memoir to post-apocalyptic mayhem!

ScienceFest

science festA recent addition to the WCAF line-up, ScienceFest seeks to reinforce the wisdom that placing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) at the core of learning, cultivates critically and creatively thinking students ready to address the concerns of our community, our environment, and our world! This year’s theme is Robots, Rockets, Critters, & Chemistry and the ScienceFest featured Artist is Steve Veracruz presenting an exhibit on Fibonacci.

Celebration Africa FilmFest

film fest“Designed to showcase the beauty, diversity, and majesty of Africa,” the Celebration Africa FilmFest provides festival attendees the opportunity to not only screen important films, but to engage in community dialogue and conversation around the various issues, concerns, and celebrations portrayed in each film. Together with a number of community organizations FilmFest presents a rich experience of African culture through film and discussion. Friday’s opening reception will be followed by a screening of The First Grader. Among Saturday’s screenings will include, The Forgotten Kingdom.

ArtFest

art festAmong the juried artists who have been carefully selected to exhibit and sell their work throughout the three days of WCAF, there will be a number of artists doing live, interactive, demonstrations of their work. Additionally, there will be a variety of booths where artists of all ages can create a project souvenir to bring home with them. Many surprises and visual delights are in store at the 2015 Waco Cultural Arts Fest.

Details:

When: September 25-27, 2015
Time: Friday 5p – midnight; Saturday 10am-midnight; Sunday 11a-5p
Where: Indian Spring Park & Waco Convention Center
Who: Everyone, all ages
Cost: FREE! (all events, unless noted are FREE. Food and artwork are additional fees per vendor.)
Website: www.wacoartsfest.org


Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW), an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at: j[email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.