The Hyde Park Art Center and the Sketchbook Project

I just had a really fun day and I feel as though I have to share it!

My morning began with helping out with a field trip at Union Street Gallery. This is the first field trip I’ve participated in, although they apparently occur quite frequently throughout the entire year due to day camps, field trips, and other groups looking for artistic education.

Union Street Gallery

This particular group was from a day camp with campers ranging in age from 8-17. The group was very outspoken about their opinions of the artwork from the start which was encouraging. I speak from personal experience when I say that most young people (including myself at many points!) are uncomfortable discussing themes and meaning behind works of art. Not this group though! They quickly grasped that Sergio Gomez’s work was about his family, identity, and specifically his identity as a Mexican American. The kids discussed with each other his use of texture, symbolism, and text so well I could see them participating in our college critiques (I don’t mean this as a jab at RIT’s critiques. I just mean that most people are more reserved in their opinions and more afraid of failure than these campers were!)

After they finished looking through the gallery (which you should take a look at. Sergio’s work is up until August 6th and we have a number of great exhibits following that) we had them work on a project similar to the charcoal piece Sergio created specifically for Union Street. They all turned out pretty well! The campers seemed to enjoy themselves and their work is now proudly hanging in our classroom.

Here's their work!


From there I ran home and quickly got on the train with my friend Rachel. And it was off to the Hyde Park Art Center!

HPAC is something I’ve known about and wanted to visit for a while, but I never seemed to find the time. When I saw that they would be exhibiting the Sketchbook Project this weekend I knew that it was high time to visit.

This is when we realized we were no longer lost!

After some stress in locating the gallery (Thank you kind sir who directed us towards S. Cornell Ave! We appreciate your assistance!) we were pleasantly surprised! We hadn’t expected HPAC to have nearly as many interesting things as they did. Not only were they exhibiting the Sketchbook Project, they had a few other very enjoyable exhibits running, a really interesting trade type garden thing going on (you could trade for plants or pay for them. There were a number of free plants, seeds, books, and plates as well), a school/classroom area that we didn’t get to look at, an artist library, and studios for artists in residence.

They also had a great cafe. One of the workers had a dramatic storm off and left the cafe shouting, "F*** you guys, I'll see you around!" which seems like a mixed message. Then he had to awkwardly return and leave his keys and pick up belongings. Cue second dramatic storm off. I think this time he said something akin to "Screw y'all!" as he dramatically struck the decorative sticks near the exit. Somehow the drama made the cafe even better. Also, gelato!

This last part was really fun. Rachel and I walked in to the studio hallway very nervously, wondering if we were allowed in this section. We were immediately greeted by a man talking to four adults. At this point we squeaked out, “Can we be in this area…?” 

They were very friendly! Not only did he allow us to look inside his studio, but he invited us to listen to the talk he was giving to the rest of the group. He told us about his work with youth in the field of hydroponics in response to food deserts. His group, the Mycelia Project (if I’m correct? I can’t find any information online other than what may be their fb group) which I believe is a part of the Sweet Water Foundation

He spoke a lot about how he engages youth in the area, sees what they’re interested in, and utilizes their skills in the Mycelia Project. The project allows youth to use their artistic skills (among others) to promote environmentally friendly practices and educate others on their work.

I got really excited while I was listening to him speak, because this type of project is exactly what YouthNoise is usually interested in. After his talk I got his contact information, and hopefully I’ll be able to arrange for a YouthNoise blogger to interview him (or I can interview him. It’s not what I usually focus on but I really support this project!)

Rachel and I then went downstairs to the Sketchbook Project where I purchased a sketchbook so that I can participate in the 2012 tour. For those of you who don’t know, the Sketchbook Project is a traveling exhibition of artists’ sketchbooks (apparently they distributed over 30,000 of them last year!) They’re really fun to look through. I’m always very nosy in regards to other artists’ sketchbooks! I chose the topic “fears and tears”. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, but I’m excited. One of the things I’ve missed the most this summer is having motivating projects and resources to create artwork. I’m hoping that this will be a push to once again work on artwork every day!

My beautiful new sketchbook! I'm looking forward to filling up these pages!

All of my Sketchbook Project swag. Everyone's going to be really jealous of my temporary tattoos.

So other than a brief twenty minutes spent at the Grant Park Music Concert that’s the end of my day. It was pretty great.

Sorry that this is so Melissa-centric. I hope that I balanced it out a little bit by telling you about the Mycelica Project, Hyde Park, and the Sketchbook Project. And I do recommend that you check out all three!

Thanks for reading. Any of you have experience with one of these groups?

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