I paid a visit to the Urban Art Retreat today, and I must say that despite all the obstacles, this little community service has persevered, and you can really see how they use art to impact the area.
Urban Art Retreat is a little place nested in Spaulding, Chicago, and is a part of District 10. While they focus on teaching children and youth the arts and how to express themselves via painting, gardening, and even acting and more, they also house women and have space for a gallery to show off and sell some of the artwork that’s been made. It’s an organisation run completely by volunteers, which speaks volumes. Here are people dedicated to making a difference in a run-down neighbourhood; people who are passionate about using art to help the lives of those around them. It’s unfortunate, but it’s becoming a rare thing to see people who help complete strangers just because they live in the same area, so going there today was a real encouragement for me.
It’s also a fun place because art is always about letting loose your imagination, plus anyone can do it, even if they deny it! Dianna Long, the director, has been working with kids since 1971, and she said she’s never met a single one who couldn’t make art. And I certainly can believe it.
There are free art workshops and programs over the summer every Saturday from 11am to 2pm. Tomorrow, James Allen, a volunteer and an artist will be showing interested persons how to paint with acrylics in his style, which is a soft, almost haunting style that resembles the texture of oil paint. Drop by for a visit if you can – it’s free to go, although donations are always appreciated, whether in the form of art supplies, food, time, etc. It’s a very unique and special place to hang out at!