By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY – As part of the “Fresh stART” program, an art exhibit featuring artists who are or have experienced homelessness will be on display on September 1, 5 and 6 at the new 1219 Creative art gallery in Oklahoma City. An opening reception for the free exhibit at 1219 N. Classen Boulevard will be held on Friday, Sept. 1 from 6 – 8 p.m.
Oklahoma City businesses, the Golding Group and Art Fusion Studio, have partnered to form 1219 Creative, an art gallery and work venue that offers offices, a conference room and co-working space.
The showcased artists participate in “Fresh stART,” a program of the Homeless Alliance and City Care that is designed to provide people experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma City with a supportive environment for creating art.
A 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization, the Homeless Alliance helps coordinate and improve services for Oklahoma City’s homeless population.
City Care serves the community by feeding the homeless, providing affordable housing for low income individuals, and furnishing tutors and mentors to work with at risk, inner city children.
Programs like Fresh stART provide people experiencing homelessness with a source of income. In addition, the program allows participants to “express themselves creatively, manage emotional issues, develop social skills through positive interaction with a peer group, and develop confidence and skills transferable to employment,” said Kinsey Crocker, Director of Communications for the Homeless Alliance.
“It’s fun, and it takes me out of the rest of the world for a while,” said Art, a featured artist who participates in the Fresh Start program. “I’ve learned everything I know by watching other people. There are good artists who come through this class.”
Fresh stART artwork covers a variety of mediums including mixed media, collage, water color, acrylic and colored pencil.
Participating Fresh stART artists receive 80 percent of the proceeds from the sale of their artwork, and the remaining 20 percent is retained by the studio to offset costs of matting the finished pieces.
Seven of Art’s paintings were sold at an exhibit held last June at the Homeless Alliance. He used the money he received to buy a bicycle.
“Our gallery values showing diversity in art and artists,” said Kyle Golding, curator at 1219 Creative. “We enjoy being a platform for emerging artists to display their work and connect with a broader audience. We look forward to connecting the public with people who participate in Fresh Start through the common language of art.”
The Fresh stART program provides studio time twice a week, on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, at the Homeless Alliance Day Shelter located on the WestTown Homeless Resource Campus. The program relies on public donations for its art supplies.
Currently, the Fresh stART program is in need of canvases, acrylic paint, mat board watercolor paper, paper towels, and paper plates, used for mixing paint. These items can be dropped off at the Homeless Alliance, Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
For more information about how to help, call the Homeless Alliance at 405-415-8410 or visit homelessalliance.org.
The 1219 Creative gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with new artist expositions on the second Friday of each month. To learn more about the gallery, visit 1219creative.com.