Downtown Arlington Urban Art Movement to Serve as Creativity Accelerator
As a part of its long-term commitment to artists, arts organizations and their indelible contributions to the community, today the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation (DAMC) launched the Downtown Arlington Urban Art Movement website. This new resource is designed to serve as an accelerator for creative activity and placemaking in Downtown Arlington as well as an information and resource hub for artists, visitors, stakeholders and sponsors.
A Movement Takes Root
For decades, Downtown Arlington sparkled as the City’s center of arts and heritage programming. It was the place where families went out to see a show, children took dance lessons, and everyone attended Arlington’s biggest holiday gatherings. Cultural institutions – like the Levitt Pavilion, Theatre Arlington, Arlington Museum of Art, Symphony Arlington, Arlington Music Hall, the Downtown Library, Knapp Heritage Park, Miss Persis Studio of Dance, and the University of Texas at Arlington – drew tens of thousands of visitors to Downtown each month.
Then in 2016, the Texas Commission on the Arts named Downtown the official Arlington Cultural District. The sparkle had become a beacon. Downtown Arlington, now a celebrated cultural tourism destination, was full of new possibilities.
As the steward for the new cultural district designation, DAMC began seeking ways to build on the creative momentum within the district by attracting new talent and investment. From these efforts, the Downtown Arlington Urban Art Movement was born.
Art Moves Us
At the core of the Downtown Arlington Urban Art Movement is a vision of building on the unique strengths found within the Arlington Cultural District while nurturing more art, innovation and placemaking. Aldo Fritz, President and CEO of DAMC, says the initiative seeks to accomplish this by bringing together entrepreneurs, stakeholders, volunteers, investors and artists in new ways.
“We’re very excited about our role in bringing the community together,” said Fritz. “As a part of our responsibility as the Arlington Cultural District, it’s important for DAMC to be an incubator for the incredible talent found throughout our region and state.”
Initiatives of the Urban Art Movement will engage in at least one of the following placemaking priorities:
- Creativity: support of arts, cultural and heritage partnerships with emerging and established artists and organizations
- Vitality: advocacy for projects that create livable spaces and healthy lifestyle options
- Innovation: attract and incubate research-based, tech, design, and other start-ups in collaboration with City, Chamber, UT Arlington and other economic development entities
Painting the Town
The Downtown Arlington Mural Project, launched earlier this year under the Urban Art Movement umbrella, is designed to stimulate the creation of a series of public murals throughout Downtown.
The first group of artists who have been selected to participate in the first phase of the Mural Project are Justin Simmons, Dylan Kennedy and Trey Wilder.
- Multi-talented Trey Wilder brings a powerful, street art-inspired aesthetic to his creative endeavors. His experience in product packaging, typography and other commercial design has helped him hone a stunningly crisp side to his execution without losing any of his bubbling, free-flowing imagination. Trey is partnering with mural host CenterSpace Coworking, 609 E. Main St.
- A seasoned commercial and fine artist, Dylan Kennedy’s interest for creating mural paintings was born from experiencing frescos and public street paintings in Italy and Brazil. Today, much of his current body of work deals with the synesthesia of different human experiences as well as the transformation of nature into synthetic forms. Dylan is partnering with mural host Dyno-Rock Indoor Climbing Center, 608 East Front St.
- Arlington resident Justin “Just” Simmons is a spiritual urban street artist with over 18 years of experience. With no formal training in art, Justin has developed a keen eye for detail and accuracy in his painting and digital designs interlaced with a soulful, enveloping, thought-provoking technique. Justin is partnering with mural host Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main St.
The murals will be dedicated at VIP Mural Dedication event on September 13, 2018, which will be followed on September 14-15 by a new Downtown arts festival entitled Brewing Arts.
In support of the dedication event, the Arlington Cultural Tourism Council pledged a $25,000 Cultural Tourism grant. The mission of the ACTC is to enhance and diversify cultural tourism development, expansion and marketing.
“Creating a vibrant city is important,” said Ron Price, President and CEO of the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s great to see the innovative ways cultural tourism and art is being incorporated into everyday life in Arlington.”
Popping Up All Over
DAMC’s Pop-Up! Partner program, also launched earlier this year under the Urban Art Movement umbrella, is designed to attract and support pop-up enterprises that have never before taken place in Downtown Arlington. Through cost-sharing, co-branding and mutually beneficial event planning and promotion, DAMC seeks to broaden and deepen the spectrum of placemaking activities taking place throughout the district.
Since February, DAMC has worked with fifteen different artists, entrepreneurs and innovators to co-host single- and multi-day Pop-Up! Partner events.
“Downtown Arlington is the ideal place for pop-ups,” said Fritz. “Our residential density is on the rise as are the number of unique dining, shopping and entertainment destinations. And, like many urban centers in transition, we still have affordable spaces that are either dormant or underutilized, which is ideal for pop-up enterprises.”
Join the Movement
The Urban Art Movement owes much of this early success, says Fritz, to individuals and businesses who have immediately embraced the vision with their time, talent and sponsorship dollars. The Sherwin-Williams Company and The Sherwin-Williams Paint Stores of Arlington, for instance, is supporting the Mural Project with a gift of paint and materials, and Milestone Construction has provided the use of a scissor lift at no cost in support of the Mural Project.
“There are unlimited ways that the businesses, non-profits and individuals can get involved as sponsors, mural hosts or volunteers,” Fritz said. Contact DAMC for details.
Works in Progress
While remaining grounded in its placemaking priorities, the City’s Downtown Master Plan, and its own Strategic Action Plan, DAMC intends to allow room for the Urban Art Movement to develop organically. Creative brainstorming by participants, ongoing feedback from the community, and opportunities over the visible horizon will keep the movement – and website – fresh and relevant.
“The Urban Art Movement will evolve and grow,” said Fritz, “and the resources associated with it will evolve and grow, too. Our hope is that over time, for instance, the website will be completely different, full of cool user-generated content, compelling photos and videos, and powerful success stories.”
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About Downtown Arlington
Designated by the State of Texas as the Arlington Cultural District, Downtown Arlington blends a unique mix of activities, sights, tastes and sounds that attract visitors and locals alike. Within its less than a two-mile radius, Downtown is home to a top tier public research university, prolific fine and performing artists and arts institutions, live entertainment, exciting NCAA and professional athletics, one-of-a-kind dining and retail, and a supportive business climate.