What happens when artists at the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG) bring children, adults, and elders together to paint rain barrels? For starters, we build community. We believe in making waves for water conservation through our paintings and luscious images. We raise awareness of water as a natural resource. We demonstrate to homeowners and businesses how we can all save money, while protecting the Wisssahickon Watershed, by capturing water in a rain barrel. We use art to build a sustainable future.
Member artists of the Mt Airy Art Garage, a community center of creativity in Northwest Philadelphia, embraced this project as a natural extension of our first rain barrel project. In May 2012 the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District (MABID) was the first Philadelphia neighborhood association to receive 15 rain barrels from the Water Department to be used for sustainable practice within our Northwest community. MABID reached out to to partner with MAAG, and we turned it into both sustainability and art.
Today these barrels are being used to water planters on Germantown Ave., beautifying and revitalizing our community. Painted by students, MAAG member artists, educators and family members, the collaboration we all created 15 incredible paintings on barrels. All participants got the support and input of other artists to realize their creativity. Germantown Avenue is now sprinkled with 10 unique works of art for all to see, with 5 more painted barrels, in winter storage, now starting to surface.
For us at the Mt. Airy Art Garage, this was only a beginning. What was missing was a concerted effort to reach out to area schools, include the children, and also reach out to elder populations. So we launched Phase 2 of our Rain Barrel Project creating 10 more barrels to be displayed in Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, and Germantown, for the community to appreciate.
We reached out and got a resounding response from local Northwest organizations. Children, young adults, elders, teachers, occupational therapists, artists—they all joined in. Our crew had participants from CW Henry, Homelink, PA School for the Deaf, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and the Germantown HS Stained Glass Project. And we’ve been painting away!
So now, as we are finish off our painting and conservation, we are asking you to save the date! May 31 at 7 pm at MAAG @ 11 West Mt. Airy Ave. We’re pulling out the stops. We want you to see with your very own eyes, how wondrous these barrels are—so many ages, differently abled, bringing their view of the world to you. And meet our artists, young and old, as they proudly display their work. You’ll get to share a very special moment. And when it’s over each finished barrel will be placed in public space in the Northwest, and each organization will bring home their very own barrel.
Mt. Airy Art Garage realizes that in large part—we have a responsibility to you… to increase awareness of the restorative and educational opportunities that we, as an artist cooperative, can provide. And being located in the heart of the Wissahickon watershed, we can create unique opportunities to combine art with an awareness of the fragility of our natural infrastructure.
So, what better than to embrace our children, reach out to elders and emerging artists, give them the opportunity to work with professionals… all to make our community an even better place to live.
With extra special thanks to our sponsors for this special project—Blick Art Materials, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, Philadelphia Activities Fund (Honorable Cindy Bass), and our Northwest business sponsors Philly Office Retail, SmithHouston Inc., The Flying Horse Center, and Martin Elfant, Inc. We couldn’t have done any of this without your support.