Sparklers is a monthly series that highlights those who have recently spread light in the world. Every day, people choose to shine in ways large and small. These moments of grace and generosity don’t always get reported on, and unfortunately they can be quickly forgotten. So we’re celebrating good deeds and kind acts. Because sometimes good news and kindness are the sweetest luxuries of all. The Sparkler of the Month for March 2019 is Art + Practice.
celebrating sparklers: those who choose to shine
Each month, we shine a light on an organization or an individual who is spreading light in the world. Our Sparkler for the month of March? Art + Practice.
the march sparkler of the month: art + practice
Located off the beaten gallery path, in Los Angeles’s Leimert Park, is the art center, Arts + Practice. A + P isn’t your typical community arts center though, in addition to showcasing museum grade contemporary art exhibitions, the organization offers much needed services for youth in the city’s foster care system, of which there are 60,000 in California.
the origin story
Founded by artist Mark Bradford, collector and philanthropist Eileen Harris Norton and activist Allan DiCastro, the idea for the organization dates back to the year 2000, when Bradford was struggling to make ends meet by styling hair and painting signs at his mother’s hair salon. Norton was one of Bradford’s salon clients and one of his first collectors, acquiring his piece Dreadlocks caint tell me shit. It was after this purchase, that Bradford, Norton and Bradford’s romantic partner, DiCastro, decided to cross pollinate their respective careers into a socially conscious art foundation.
In their research, the trio discovered that of the 60,000 fostered youth in California, about 30% of the population resided in L.A. County, with the greatest concentration in South Los Angeles at nearby Dorsey High School and Crenshaw High School. Given that foster children, like artists, are considered outsiders, it only made sense that the two platforms were combined. After all, it was art which helped Bradford find his path in life, so perhaps it would be able to help others who were in need of it too. Not to mention that many of the issues that are tackled in contemporary art are the same issues which face fostered youth, like race and sexuality.
The result is a stable space where foster youth may receive mental health care, life skills training, access to housing opportunities and individualized education and employment support, in addition to unlimited access to contemporary art.
Since they launched over six years ago, A+P has organized 12 exhibitions, 35 public programs, 2 foster youth round table discussions, collaborated with 4 museums to organize our contemporary art programs and welcomed nearly 1,000 students and teachers to their exhibition space to participate in A+P’s education program. And above all, admission to all of their programming remains free.
To make this all possible, A+P has forged partnerships with organizations like the Hammer Museum and First Place for Youth. The curators from UCLA’s Hammer Museum helm the art organization’s exhibition program and lecture series, while First Place for Youth provides social services and internship opportunities to the foster youth population, many of whom reside within two miles of A + P.
The commitment that A+P has shown to Leimert Park and the surrounding youth community is truly groundbreaking. They provide thoughtful and inspiring programs that show the positive influence of contemporary art while also tackling the tough issues many communities are facing today in an effort to foster change for the next generation.
want to support A+P?
Check out their latest exhibition called Time is Running Out of Time: Experimental Film and Video from the L.A. Rebellion and Today which presents early short works of Black filmmakers and video artists in Los Angeles. It’s currently on display through September 14th. Alternatively if you aren’t able to make it out to LA to see an exhibition or attend one of their many public programs, you can make a tax-deductible donation instead.
nominate a sparkler
We’ll highlight one new Sparkler every month. If you’d like to nominate a person or organization, send us your suggestions!
In the meantime, we’ll take inspiration from those who choose to shine as we head into a new month. Let’s work to make it brilliant.
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Jillian Tangen is the Head of Research at Dandelion Chandelier. Formerly, she was a Senior Research Analyst at McKinsey & Co and Analyst at Shearman & Sterling. She is an avid fan of Nordic design, having owned an independent lifestyle store and sales agency focused on emerging Scandinavian design. Jillian lives in NYC and is married with three young children. She loves cross country skiing, the New York Rangers, reading, travel and discovering new brands.
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