September 20, 2014

Free Arts NYC and The Brant Foundation Host a Day with Dan Colen for Homeless Youth

Dan Colen's major survey "Help!" at The Brant Foundation Art Study Center has been on view since May, but despite the whimsy in many of the works—notably, his paintings made with wads of gum—most visitors to the show have been adults.
But that wasn't the case this past Saturday morning, when the charity Free Arts NYC arranged for 101 children from New York City homeless shelters to be bused to The Foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut. They were given a personal tour of the show with Colen, who had come out especially for the event, as well as art projects tied to artworks in the show (like rock painting, smashing flower petals to make marks on a canvas, and, of course, sculpting faux-gum at leisure).
Each child had a "buddy" to take them around the day's activities—some volunteers were college students, some were editors, and a few were art world luminaries, like Alexandra Chemla, Casey Fremont, Annabelle Dexter Jones, Marlene Zwirner, and Peter Brant himself. All believed that art, in one way or another, could have a long-lasting positive impact on the children's lives. "The individualized attention and the art projects brings out the best in these children," said Antonio Rodriguez, director of special events at New York Department of Homeless Services. "The entire process has a profound and very positive effect on their lives, and we're grateful to The Brant Foundation and Free Arts NYC for giving these young children this opportunity."
As the morning dwindled, Colen began signing some of the children's' tee shirts. "My hope," said Colen, speaking to the kids, "is that you'll learn how to transform simple objects into memorable experiences and that maybe, by the end of the afternoon, you'll consider yourselves artists, too." —Rachel Small

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