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‘Be the Artist’ festival debuts at Bartlett Station

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
‘Be the Artist’ festival debuts at Bartlett Station
Visual artists and dancers convened at the “Be the Artist at Bartlett” festival at the Bartlett Station development in Roxbury. PHOTO: COURTESY THE GUILD

On Saturday, Sept. 28, Nuestra Comunidad held its inaugural “Be the Artist at Bartlett” festival at the new Oasis@Bartlett temporary arts park at Bartlett Station in Roxbury. Featuring local musicians, dancers and visual artists, an interactive mural project coordinated by muralist Franklin Marval and a patio lounge area, Be the Artist was the first event of a significant public programming calendar coming to the space.

Visual artists and dancers convened at the “Be the Artist at Bartlett” festival at the Bartlett Station development in Roxbury. PHOTO: COURTESY THE GUILD

Visual artists and dancers convened at the “Be the Artist at Bartlett” festival at the Bartlett Station development in Roxbury. PHOTO: COURTESY THE GUILD

The event was presented in partnership with The Guild, which built the temporary park, and the Roxbury Cultural District. “Every single thing that happens in our spaces comes out of not only community ideas and input but community talents and skills,” says Jhana Senxian, founder and CEO of The Guild. “The beautiful thing about Bartlett is … in just six days it went from their field of rubble to what you see there now. And all powered by community folks. It’s beautiful.”

Jo-Mé Dance Company was one of the many groups to perform throughout the day. The company runs a professional dance group and also focuses on enriching the lives of young people through dance programs. The professional company performed a new modern piece about belonging, choreographed by Jo-Mé Co-founder and Executive Artistic Director Joe Gonzalez. He says he thought the theme would be appropriate for a new space where Roxbury residents belong. “In a lot of communities I notice that there are not a lot of place for dancers to go. To have somewhere in Boston to rehearse and perform and show our work to the community is wonderful,” says Gonzalez.

In addition to the many performances and participatory activities, Be the Artists hosted a “Roxbury’s Got Talent” event allowing community members to perform on stage and compete for prizes. All the contestants live in Roxbury or have a significant connection to the community.

The Guild has created this urban park space as a taste of what will come to the Bartlett Station compound after construction is finished. In the meantime, this temporary park will have programming provided by The Guild through November and then again in the spring and through the fall of 2020. What The Guild and Nuestra Comunidad have done is activate the pre-construction space. The programming and design of the park were both created by the community, utilizing community input.

“We’re hoping to showcase the power and strength that’s in our neighborhoods despite the disparities and injustices,” says Senxian. “We’re strong and beautiful and powerful right here right now.”

On the web

Learn more at:

Oasis@Bartlett: www.oasisbartlett.com

Franklin Marval: http://franklinmarval.com/wordpress

Jo-Mé Dance: www.jo-medance.com

The Guild: www.theguild.works/story

Roxbury Cultural District: http://roxburyculturaldistrict.org

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