Commissioned by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County and the Montgomery County Public Art Trust, MIT- trained artist Matthew Mazzotta mounted a successful Outdoor Living Room event in downtown Wheaton on May 6, 2015. The event facilitated a community conversation about Wheaton, what Wheaton means to its residents, and how the arts and humanities can reflect and uplift the community.
The discussion will inform Matthew as he develops a public art proposal to address the community needs of Wheaton and increase the vibrancy of the Wheaton Arts and Entertainment District. Read the full press release from the event in the AHCMC newsroom HERE.
Artist Matthew Mazzotta. Image via Vermont Studio Center.
Matthew Mazzotta is a conceptual public artist who creates permanent and temporary public art interventions. Mazzotta's method of creating art always begins with open dialogue – a key component of his practice. He does not go into a community with a fixed idea of what he will create, but instead relies primarily on conversations with residents to determine how a given artwork should take shape, and, more importantly, what issues it should address.
“I’ll go anywhere. For me it doesn't matter,” he says. “My practice is about creating a framework, or making a platform for a new conversation that hasn't had time and space to happen.… It's about making a context and not about bringing content. I don’t want to bring something to a community I don’t know about.”
Following an Outdoor Community Living Room Session, Artist Matthew Mazzotta, the Coleman Center for the Arts, and the people of York Alabama teamed-up to transform a blighted property in York, Alabama's historic downtown into a new public art project, Open House.
Through open conversations, hard work and planning, they developed a project that used materials from an abandoned house and blighted property to build a new smaller house, an Open House. Better still, the Open House has a secret; it physically transforms into a 100-seat open air theater that is free to the public.
The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC), is coordinating a major creative placemaking event that joins the cultural, business, and civic sectors in the activation of the Wheaton Arts & Entertainment District (WAED). These activities will support Wheaton’s community of multicultural and traditional artists in the design and installation of a major public art project in Wheaton. This project will be complemented by a schedule of temporary art installations and performances funded by AHCMC’s Wheaton Cultural Grants aimed at activating Wheaton as a local cultural destination. The Wheaton Cultural Grants category, announced in October 2014, will provide up to $10,000 per grant to support artists, scholars, and cultural nonprofits with proposals for creative and cultural projects for Wheaton. AHCMC plans to announce the first recipients of these Montgomery County funded grants in June, 2015.
The Outdoor Living Room, future placemaking initiative and Cultural Grants Program are being implemented by AHCMC in conjunction with the Wheaton CBD and Vicinity Sector Plan, approved by the Montgomery County Council November 2011 and adopted by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission January 2012. The plan focuses on approximately 484 acres surrounding the Wheaton Metro station. The plan concentrates on encouraging great urban design, efficient transportation, pedestrian links to the Wheaton Metro station, environmental sustainability and more. The plan's goals are as follows: