The Whitewater Arts Alliance kicked off the annual Public Art Project with a presentation by local historian Carol Cartwright at the Cultural Arts Center on Sunday. Cartwright, who is full of anecdotes, spoke of the history of Whitewater with the aim to inspire prospective public artists for this year’s project ‘Portals to the Past: Portals to the Future of Our Community.’
At the event, artists were able to pick plywood boards which serve as their ‘portals.’ The boards are to be painted and returned by anyone who wishes to participate in the annual project.
“We want people to think about what has happened in Whitewater and what could possibly happen in Whitewater,” said Mary Nevicosi, who is a board member at the Whitewater Arts Alliance.
Everyone in the community is welcome to participate in the project regardless of age or skill level, and boards are still available for pickup free of charge at the Cultural Arts Center during gallery hours.
The art will hang during summer from the light poles in downtown Whitewater and can depict anything that has to do with Whitewater’s past or future.
“It is pretty open. We purposefully left it open so that the artist can come up with their own ideas,” said Nevicosi.
The annual project is also a fundraiser and sponsor of the artwork. Sponsorships allow artists to participate without any cost to them and help sustain the Whitewater Arts Alliance and the programs they provide. Sponsors range from local banks, businesses or groups. Last year, they raised around $3,500.
“This is one of the Whitewater Arts Alliance’s most visible projects because it lines the streets of Whitewater. It’s been a really fantastic way of bringing in people of all ages and people of all artistic skill levels to join in celebrating the community and the arts,” said Whitewater Arts Alliance volunteer Marjorie Stoneman.
According to Stoneman the project first started in 2005 and each year has had a different theme.
Roni Telfer, former board member and volunteer at the Whitewater Arts Alliance, recalled all the different themes throughout the years. Her favorite year was cubed theme. Telfer said many found it challenging to work with the cubes since they were larger and more difficult to hang, but she enjoyed the challenge. She made one of her cubes to look like a gilded bird cage.
Telfer has participated in the project every year and believes anyone can participate regardless of artistic talent. She believes it is also something people can participate in by simply engaging with it and taking the time to view the art once it is displayed downtown.
“It has become something that people ask about and want to see. We have had people who have said that they put it on their list of things to see in the summer,” Telfer said.
The deadline to return the painted boards to the Cultural Arts Center is May 13. More information on registration, design criteria and general information about the project can be found online at whitewaterarts.org