A Word from Executive Director Kelley Worden

Each year at this time, while the flurry of the annual show is consuming us all, I sit for a moment and reflect on our year. I contemplate my time with the artists and volunteers in our program. I am constantly reminded why AFTS is such an important piece to our community here in Austin.  In our Open Studio we are all friends, colleagues, artist….…..people.  We share stories of life….the highs and the lows. We are so excited with the creation made in class each week, the education time in nearby galleries/museums and the community that reaches out to our program daily. I am consistently overwhelmed with the generosity!

We are all taking a deep breath and jumping into these next two weeks before the 24th Annual Show And Sale. Lots of work ahead of us…. pricing, tagging, mounting and most importantly supporting the artist in our program. They are nervous, anxious, excited and scared.  And so are we! We look forward to an amazing show this year and we hope you have made plans to attend and support AFTS but most importantly come and make a difference in your community. 

Thank you for your continued support!

Kelley Worden

Executive Director

director@artfromthestreets.org

Jeremiah Hurta ­ Pen & Ink

Celebrating Success and Gearing up for the Annual Show & Sale

Written by: Maggie Tate

It is common for the Art from the Streets (AFTS) studio to be filled with the lively atmosphere of creation, but never as much as on turn-in day. This past Thursday, September 8, artists and volunteers alike left the brushes in the closet and put on their curator hats. The task of the day was for each artist to select up to 40 pieces from their 2016 production to be mounted for display in the 24th Annual Show & Sale. Another submission day will take place on October 20th for works that will be unmounted but still available for sale. The upcoming show, which takes place at the Austin Convention Center on November 19th & 20th, will feature the newest work of AFTS’s regular artists. 

With art covering almost every surface of the space, the experience of turn-in day put into focus not only how prolific and talented the artists are, but also how organized the operation of AFTS has to be. On Thursday, 32 artists were present to turn in their artwork, reaching a total of 889 pieces. With the space limitations that AFTS faces, it takes the work of small miracles and the continuous dedication of crafty volunteer leads to choreograph the movement of blank paper, partly finished work, and completed pieces between on-site storage, the studio space, and an off-site storage facility. Watching this process culminate in each artist’s carefully stacked blue plastic storage bags from which they selected their 2016 collection was a thing of wonder. 

As a line of accomplished-feeling artists slowly left the studio, a team of volunteers used their final wisps of energy to load the artwork into the back of Kelley Worden’s vehicle. Worden, Executive Director for AFTS, has arranged for Adam Galleries in Lakeway to mount the work for this year’s exhibition. This is one of several new collaborative relationships that have positive energy flowing into AFTS operations. Another such relationship was developed between AFTS and Vintage Villas Hotel & Events, overlooking Lake Travis. On August 4, Vintage Villas hosted an AFTS exhibition entitled Give Art a Home. The exhibition yielded both a new audience for the artists of AFTS, with attendance reaching roughly 250 people, as well as a new opportunity for artists to make much needed money from their artworks, with sales from the show adding up to $5,870. 

Aside from these numerical statistics of success, the Give Art a Home exhibition at Vintage Villas was a meaningful experience for the artists by unquantifiable measures as well. Pat Bailey, a regular artist of AFTS, expressed this effect quite eloquently in a message to Kelley following the show’s opening night. “Thank you so much for the show at Vintage Villas,” she wrote. “It was SPECTACULAR! It was GORGEOUS!! … The view of the lake at evening with the sunset and the moon like a fingernail brought tears. I’d forgotten what it is like to be surrounded by a beautiful place and stunning sky and by such wonderful people…” When asked to reflect on her experience at Vintage Villas during Thursday’s turn-in day, Pat said it took her two days to come down from the bliss of that evening. 

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Sentiments such as Pat’s were echoed by volunteers at the quarterly volunteer meeting held on August 25th. Exhibitions such as Give Art a Home and the Annual Show & Sale are important reminders to all who are involved with AFTS that art and the events that surround it are vital parts of the human experience. Not only are artists who are homeless, formerly homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless given a venue for turning their artistic skill into monetary means, butalso artists, volunteers, and spectators alike are given the opportunity to make community and share a sunset with people they might otherwise never make meaningful contact.

Building community in these circumstances can be eye-opening for some and life-affirming for others. If the energy of the first turn-in day is any indication, hopes are high that this year’s Annual Show & Sale will be a success in both art sales and community building. 

David Schumaker - Seeing Art's True Side

Written by: Shelby Nickells

Photos: Kenny Trice

A change in perspective can sometimes be all a person requires to get out there and help somebody in need. Art From The Streets is that change in perspective. This organization allows the homeless to find their passions through art and provide a safe environment to create beautiful pieces of art for the whole world to enjoy. Artist David Schumaker stood out the most to me because of his hard work and dedication to his art and his appreciation for the volunteers at AFTS.

David Schumaker has been with AFTS for over a year, and he has warmed everyone's hearts. The first time I met him was at the December 2015 show after I bought one of his many pieces of art. It was an abstract piece, full of colors, like his bright personality. He asked me if I was willing to feature him in the next issue of the newsletter I would soon be creating.

I conducted an interview with David. He explained to me, “It has changed my perspective to be more compassionate to everybody that I come in contact with but it's become a mantra more than me as far as my mental stability goes.” David has an extraordinary talent that goes far beyond his love for florals and spray paint. He is able to create art of all kinds consisting of his detailed yet abstract paintings of landscapes, insects and flags.

His love for art has allowed him to project his feelings of anger and grief into something all can understand and love. He lost his mother eleven months before stumbling across AFTS, when he retrieved help from a volunteer named Elizabeth who was concerned about David's wellbeing. She soon began to understand why he was acting depressed and angry and insisted that he create a piece of art to show he felt at the time. He ended up painting three small prints of faith, hope and love. “I know I have a place to come. I have a second home and a second family here, so that's what keeps me on track and it keeps me positive.”

As I began to dig deeper into David's life story I learned the reasons behind his ending up on the streets. He explained that it was, “My family dynamics, alcohol and drugs.” His first time on the streets was by choice for three years. His last time being on the streets was close to two years. But with the help of VA social workers, he now has a place that is safe for him to stay.

David was very open and willing to share his story with me. It allowed me to see his perspective on his life. He wanted everyone to know, “just to never give up on your dreams, keep pushing, keep going forward, keep persevering on whatever you like in life, don't ever give up.”