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