Art with Heart

Art with a Heart holds Shop and Bop event for work­force de­vel­op­ment stu­dents

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: LISA HAR­LOW

Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Randi Pup­kin started Art with a Heart out of the trunk of her car 17 years ago with a mis­sion to en­hance the lives of peo­ple in need through vis­ual art. Back then, while she was still a prac­tic­ing at­tor­ney, she brought art classes into two group homes, the House of Ruth for vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, and a fa­cil­ity for pa­tients with Alzheimer’s.

“I got frus­trated with fight­ing with other lawyers as op­posed to mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the world. So I com­bined my love of peo­ple and art and started Art with a Heart,” said Pup­kin, who stopped prac­tic­ing law and now runs the or­ga­ni­za­tion full time. “We bring art into com­mu­ni­ties for peo­ple who don’t have ac­cess to vis­ual art.”

What started out in just those four lo­ca­tions has bal­looned to 11,000 classes an­nu­ally in Bal­ti­more’s most vul­ner­a­ble neigh­bor­hoods. The or­ga­ni­za­tion brings in­ter­ac­tive vis­ual arts classes into schools, com­mu­nity cen­ters, group homes, shel­ters, per­ma­nent housing fa­cil­i­ties, hos­pi­tals and se­nior housing fa­cil­i­ties.

“We bring our art classes into the com­mu­nity. Peo­ple do not need to come to us,” said Pup­kin. “Our growth has been un­be­liev­able. We now have a staff of nine full-timers and about 50 other part-time teach­ers. We also en­gage an es­ti­mated 5,000 vol­un­teers each year.”

Art with a Heart of­fers the art classes at no cost to the stu­dent par­tic­i­pants. The or­ga­ni­za­tion also of­fers other sup­port­ive ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing a job pro­gram called HeART­works, ser­vice learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, com­mu­nity ser­vice projects, pub­lic art ef­forts, Art in the Park, a social en­ter­prise/retail store and a lead­er­ship pro­gram. The or­ga­ni­za­tion fre­quently part­ners with other or­ga­ni­za­tions in the com­mu­nity, and a re­cent part­ner­ship with Mt. Wash­ing­ton Pe­di­atric Hospi­tal led to vol­un­teers cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful un­der­wa­ter-themed mu­ral com­plete with sea crea­ture mo­saics.

In the HeART­works pro­gram, youth ages 14 – 24 also learn es­sen­tial job skills while learn­ing to make art. This work­force de­vel­op­ment pro­gram has pro­vided a safe and col­lab­o­ra­tive work en­vi­ron­ment for al­most 600 young adults since it be­gan 12 years ago.

This sum­mer, 65 stu­dents, many of whom are home­less, have been par­tic-

ipat­ing in the pro­gram, and dur­ing this time they have been mak­ing mar­ketable art to sell at Art with a Heart’s social en­ter­prise and retail store, HeARTwares. They are paid a daily stipend con­tin­gent upon at­ten­dance and time­li­ness.

Par­tic­i­pants ben­e­fit by learn­ing how to com­ply with the rules and pro­ce­dures of a work­place, en­gag­ing in a pro­gram with con­crete ex­pec­ta­tions and struc­ture, work­ing in a retail store, and meet­ing and talk­ing to the pub­lic in a mean­ing­ful and ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner. The sum­mer pro­gram is four to six weeks long de­pend­ing on the site.

The pro­gram ends on Au­gust 4, and the stu­dents will be sell­ing their work at the an­nual Shop and Bop event that evening from 5 to 9 p.m. at HeARTwares in Ham­p­den.

“It is a very spe­cial night for all of us. It is hope. The kids are en­gaged and ex­cited,” said Pup­kin. “And when some­thing sells, they are full of pride and joy.”

At Shop and Bop, there will be a wide va­ri­ety of 2-D and 3-D cre­ative art for sale, such as: house­wares, gar­den art, paint­ings, sculp­tures, chil­dren’s fur­ni­ture, bird houses and more. There will also be a band called Pa­trick and the Swayze’s from Key West, Florida, food trucks, fam­ily-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties, and com­mu­nity art projects in­clud­ing chalk paint­ing led by Katie Bet­ter.

If you can’t make Shop and Bop, the HeARTwares retail store is open daily for a wide va­ri­ety of hand­made and one-of-a-kind art­work, jew­elry, house­wares, fur­ni­ture, sta­tionery, and gar­den or­na­ments. All of the mer­chan­dise is cre­ated by par­tic­i­pants of HeART­works and vol­un­teers. Sale pro­ceeds are shared be­tween Art with a Heart and the artist or com­mu­nity part­ner. Art with a Heart’s Shop and Bop

Fri­day, Au­gust 4 from 5 to 9 p.m. HeARTwares 623 W. 34th St., ad­di­tional en­trance at 3355 Keswick Rd. Bal­ti­more, MD 21211 For more in­for­ma­tion, go to http://artwith­a­heart.net.

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