July 12, 2021

Essex Art Center seeks to establish an arts and culture district in Lawrence by installing art along the city’s canal

by joeyphoenix

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From Essex Art Center

Essex Art Center is excited to announce Gateway to the Arts, a public art installation along the city’s canal from Union Street to the bridge between Island Street and Canal Street.

In April, Essex Art Center launched its L.I.V.E. on Island Street campaign, a series of community-focused initiatives to serve Lawrence and its residents better. As part of the program, the art center is spearheading Gateway to the Arts, a beautification project that will highlight Lawrence’s canalway and help establish a vibrant arts and culture district, long-established as a city goal.

Gateway to the Arts is a temporary, seasonal, and multimedia public art piece that will include painting the city’s sidewalks and installing plants and lights. The project aims to showcase the city’s creative power by highlighting Lawrence’s architectural and cultural assets with displays at one of the city’s busiest gateway entrances. Essex Art Center’s Summer Public Art and Teaching Apprentices will execute the sidewalk paintings.

Essex Art Center’s Summer Public Art and Teaching Apprenticeship program actively involves young people in creating city-scaled works of art. Through a series of activities—including the design and creation of public artworks—the program integrates paid community service with relevant curriculum and professional development.

The program teaches civic responsibility and strengthens and benefits both the participants and the community by transforming public spaces into beautiful works of art.

Eric Allshouse, a professional artist, and Lawrence High School art teacher, has been working with Essex Art Center since 2012. Together they have executed eleven large-scale murals throughout Lawrence.

Jashley Lopez, a participant in the art center’s Summer Public Art and Teaching program, said, “We came up with a long list of ideas—over fifty! Deciding on what we would do was hard, but it was easy for us to work together.” When asked what she looked forward to most, she said, “I’m most excited to paint and to see what it will look like when we’re done.”

Gateway to the Arts is meant to celebrate Lawrence and the region’s creative community. The painting of the sidewalks along the canal will start in mid-July. The installation will be complete in time for Essex Art Center’s Grand Reopening Celebration/Block Party on Saturday, August 21st.

This free, community and family-focused event will run from noon to 6 pm and include art activities, live music, and an exhibition of the region’s diverse artistic talents.

Arts and culture districts drive economic growth, strengthen the community’s distinctive character, and improve the quality of life for residents. Essex Art Center hopes by taking an initial step to show what an arts and culture district could look like, the city will position itself to become eligible for the financial assistance to support the marketing, operations, and programming of a permanent arts and culture district.

Lawrence has a strong sense of community pride that Gateway to the Arts will showcase. In addition, the establishment of an arts and culture district will harness the power of art to strengthen the neighborhood and stimulate the local economy.

Contributors: Gateway to the Arts is made possible thanks to the generosity of MassDevelopment’s TDI Local Grant, MassHire’s Youth Workforce Program, the City of Lawrence, individual supporters of Essex Art Center’s L.I.V.E. campaign, and L2Florals.

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