Welcome to the Neighborhood is proposed by Sharon Lee Hart

How did you come up with the idea for your project? 

I have lived and taught in South Florida for 2 years and have been impressed by the number of talented (and often under-recognized) artists in the area. I wanted to find an avenue to promote regional up and coming fine art photographers who are making exciting images.

While working with a real estate agent viewing homes, I thought about the welcome gift that was given to my family when we moved into the neighborhood I grew up in, and I thought that it would be a warm and inviting gesture to provide new homeowners in Palm Beach County with photographs from regional artists to the benefit of both the recipient and photographer. 

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

I became aware of the grant last year, near the cut-off date, so I followed the project.  The engagement grant is such a unique and brilliant idea, I knew I wanted to participate. When the call was announced this year, I submitted "Welcome to the Neighborhood" because I feel that it embodies the heart of the grants' goal by exposing new homeowners in the diverse communities of Palm Beach County Florida to vibrant artists in South Florida. The gifts would not only enhance an existing art collection, but also spark an interest in collecting fine art photography.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to? 

Girls’ Club in Ft. Lauderdale, FL puts on their annual Art Fallout for one night in October. This art event is an interactive art crawl with pop up galleries, mural painting and tons of special events. The most engaging exhibition called Unframed takes place at Girls’ Club itself. Works on paper by South Florida artists are displayed on the walls for a panel of gallery owners, dealers, curators and museum professionals to review. They provide feedback via post it note placed under each piece. Last fall, it was standing room only and the energy was palpable. The public is also invited to share handwritten comments. It is democratic and allows for direct audience engagement. Many of my students participated last year and all left with feedback via a pile of handwritten notes. Several students sold their work. I foundUnframed to be a great way for the public to discover new artists, and the benefits for the participating artists are invaluable.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

After I read this question, the Einstein quote, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” popped into my head. I think artists need to take responsibility for explaining their ideas and motivations in understandable terms. We need to determine who our audience is and formulate strategies to engage that group. Artists should actively interact with audiences by giving talks, exhibiting work in all types of venues, attending openings and engaging audiences in person and online.  As artists, we have the power to evoke an audience's deeper understanding and appreciation for our work through directand compelling statements and talks. From my experiences, I believe the standard for artist talks should line up more with TED talk time limits or Pecha Kucha and the remaining time reserved for questions and conversation.

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