im Barbara Allen and senior teaching fellow Robyn Miler were showered with love when they visited Salisbury, North Carolina recently.
"I was overcome with the level of passion, commitment and talent we found in this darling little community," said Barbara of the experience.
The partnership with Fresh Artists began when Salisbury resident Sherry Mason Brown--senior strategist OFS brands (a furniture company), met FA through business friends in Philadelphia. While visiting the studio, she had an epiphany, said she knew exactly what her town of 33,000 needed. Subsequently, she and her friend Kim Lentz, and active parishioner at St. John's Lutheran Church in Salisbury, made two pilgrimages to Fresh Artists, towing art teachers and the principal of local high school along with them. They were on a mission.
They wanted Fresh Artists' entrepreneurial magic to
transform their community and schools. And they are two
The next step in their partnership journey was to bring Fresh Artists to Salisbury, a small town 40 miles north of Charlotte with an active arts community. Their first stop was at the NC Transportation Museum, which has commissioned about 10 all-weather tableaux depicting many of the ancient locomotives, cabooses, trolleys and the Wright Brother's first airplane!
Children in Leigh Ann Alexander's art classes have worked for over a year illustrating these vehicles as well as old stations, the historic Round House and other architecture of the surrounding village of Spencer. This project will be continued throughout this school year and incorporate many iconic objects found in the train world, such as beautiful lanterns, crossing markers and our favorite, the Cow Catcher on the front of old steam locomotives! Roger Allen scans and curates the final pieces chosen for the complex and delightful "silly" amalgamations showcasing a myriad of children's styles and imaginations.
Barbara and Robyn were invited to do a full-day professional development workshop for 25 local art teachers representing most schools in Rowan County. Robyn presented and Barbara assisted, with FA's iconic Silly City and Chip Art programs as the two centerpieces for the session. The hands-on workshop was hosted by Anne Scott Clement, Executive Director of Salisbury's fabulous Water Works Art Center. The art teachers were enthusiastic and engaged...and hugely talented.
The big surprise came following the day-long workshop. The community of Salisbury hosted a reception at which Barbara met the more than ten young artists whose art is now in the FA collection... and received an oversized check, generated by the children in several schools who held their second year of "Pablo's Clothesline Art Sales," conducted by Salisbury art teachers.
Barbara and Robyn were overwhelmed with emotion.
Buoyed by the overwhelming enthusiasm of the teachers, Barbara and Robyn spent the next day helping Salisbury crate a photographic archive for the children to build their own "Silly City."
Watch these pages for updates on "Fresh Artists, Southern
Transported by their hosts, they scoured the county photographing significant architecture in beautiful towns like China Grove, Faith and ending up eating at and documenting the eponymous landmark Gary's BBQ! They included prominent barns such as Patterson Farm, local churches, historic houses as well as very modest houses of the children who will be interpreting them through "Silly City."
The towns are redolent with gorgeous fences, lamp posts, benches, fountains and some of the loveliest people they ever met. Given the enthusiastic reception of the art teachers, the vibrant local arts community and a strong commitment to volunteerism and historic preservation, the sky's the limit for this burgeoning partnership with Fresh Artists. Watch these pages for updates on "Fresh Artists, Southern Edition," y'all! We're in love!