On September 19, 2011, a group of Pew Fellows gathered at Philadelphia’s Print Center for an evening that was part consumption, part inspiration. The event was the first in a series of dinners and discussions, meant to introduce Pew Fellows to exceptional artists outside of the area and the creative leaps different artists take in their projects and practice.
The special guest for the evening was Rick Lowe, founder of Project Row Houses, a neighborhood-based nonprofit in Houston, which has focused since 1993 on using creative solutions to renovate old homes and thereby revitalizing the mostly African-American community. Lowe began as a painter, until he realized that he could accomplish more outside of his own studio. He described the challenge someone offered him: “We know what the problems in our community are; we live with them every day. You’re an artist—why can’t you create a solution?”
Lowe explained to the Pew Fellows in attendance that with this challenge in mind, he left his studio life behind and went out into the world to volunteer. When he discovered the dilapidated row homes in Houston’s Northern Third Ward, he began to imagine how he and his fellow artists could utilize their collective creativity to transform the homes in order to re-contextualize them, giving them value and a place in the history of the area. A group of artists worked on one house each, working with the residents to ensure that personal touches and cultural flourishes to the homes remained intact. Project Row Houses has since continued to offer creative solutions and alternatives to gentrification.
“The sum of our creativity is much stronger and better than the individual,” Lowe told the Fellows, who were inspired by Lowe’s approach to social good, and how it incorporates that creativity without sacrificing artistic excellence.
Harold Wolpert is the managing director of Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City.
In 2006 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 73 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.
Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration is an interactive exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary that sheds light on the current state of incarceration in America.
Tenor Vinson Cole has sung at most major opera houses across the globe, and worked with many of the world’s leading orchestral conductors.
Steve Zeitlin is the founding director of City Lore, an organization dedicated to the preservation of New York City’s—and America’s—living cultural heritage.
Scribe Video Center is currently producing an oral history media project that explores the rich and diverse history of Muslim communities in the region.
This month in Fellows Friday news: Vera Nakonechny is named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts, Alex Da Corte exhibits at White Cube, and much more.
The ICA will present a film screening of The Mesh and the Circle followed by a conversation with Luís Silva and João Mourão, co-directors of Kunsthalle Lissabon.
The Penn Institute for Urban Research develops knowledge in three critical areas: innovative urban development strategies; building the sustainable and inclusive 21st-century city; and the role of anchor institutions in urban places.
Fleisher Art Memorial is implementing new communication strategies meant to transform the organization into a more welcoming and accessible space for its South Philadelphia neighbors.
Galen Joseph-Hunter is the executive director of Wave Farm (formerly free103point9), a nonprofit arts organization that celebrates creative and community use of media and the airwaves.
Jennifer Higdon wins a International Opera Award for Cold Mountain, Geoff Sobelle’s one-man play The Object Lesson will be presented at New York Theatre Workshop, and a mid-career retrospective book of Bo Bartlett’s paintings is published.