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Press Release Northside Artlets Project

August 29, 2016 | Press Releases, Media Attention

Press Release
For Immediate Release
Monday, August 29, 2016
Prepared by
Chapman Cultural Center
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Contact Jennifer Evins, President (864) 278-9663

After a national search, visual artist Eli Blasko has been selected as the Artist of Record for Chapman Cultural Center’s “Artlets” project, funded by a design award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Chapman Cultural Center is spearheading the Arts Plan of the City’s Northside Neighborhood redevelopment project.
A 2014 Hub-Bub Artist-in-Residence, Blasko is originally from the foothills of western Pennsylvania and will be tasked with the creation of four Artlets, gazebo-like structures that can be used for creative gatherings such as concerts, poetry readings, exhibitions, and other cultural experiences in a neighborhood setting. The Artlets are being funded through a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and matching funds dedicated by Chapman Cultural Center for neighborhood and community vibrancy.
Blasko, who is also a curator, muralist, and art writer, has recently relocated back to Spartanburg from a six-month appointment in Lubbock, TX to cofound Bannan Blasko LLC, an arts and design company focusing on the creation of public art, murals, and hand-painted signage. He holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Slippery Rock University. In addition, he has studied Spatial Communications at The Academy of Fine Art & Design in Bratislava, Slovakia. He also studied traditional blacksmithing and steel fabrication at Touchstone Center for Crafts in Farmington, PA.
Blasko’s artistic practice spans a wide range of media, primarily focusing on sculpture and printmaking, but he has also incorporated drawing, performance, and video. He has exhibited at The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, The Venture Compound in St. Petersburg, FL, The Center for Visual Arts in Greenville, SC, and The Annex Gallery in Macomb, IL. He has completed residencies in Paducah, KY; Spartanburg; Nebraska City, NE; and Lubbock. Recent public projects include curating a temporary, outdoor sculpture exhibition around Lubbock's Cultural District and orchestrating CatLand, a collaborative art show with the Spartanburg Humane Society designed to boost adoption rates.
To make sure the Artlets are in sync with larger vision of the Northside Redevelopment Project, Blasko will work very closely with citizens of Northside Neighborhood Association and grassroots leaders — “Voyagers” — who have been designated to represent the community. “I cannot think of a better way to collaborate with a community than to design a literal platform for them to spring from, allowing them to spread their own creative ideas, passions, and interests to the rest of the neighborhood and Spartanburg as a whole,” Blasko said in his project application. “Initiatives like this are a large part of why I find Spartanburg so charming, and why it has led
me to call this area my home. It not only engages its artists, but allows them to become collaborators with and teachers for its communities.”
In addition to seeking and utilizing input from the community about the size, appearance, and location of each Artlet, Blasko will locally source the raw materials and manpower needed to build them, using wood from Northside area buildings being demolished and working with Northside residents to construct and paint the Artlets. Conceptual designs are underway now, and fabrication of the Artlets is set to begin in November 2016 with installation to follow in March of 2017. Thanks to a generous private developer, Blasko has established a woodworking studio on the Northside behind Freemont Apartments where residents can visit and engage in helping to develop these unique designs which will serve as an extension of the “front porch” where neighbors convene to share stories and creative expressions.
In the winning NEA design grant application, Jennifer Evins, President & CEO of Chapman Cultural Center, described the project as an extension of the 2014 NEA grant that funded an arts planning process lead by public art expert, Janet Kagan of ArtForce working with NDG and City of Spartanburg to develop the larger Northside Master Planning process. The results: a resident inspired Cultural Arts Plan capturing and extending the history and unique identity of the Northside. The plan combines industrial arts and design in the desired outcome by the residents of a “livable community that includes arts and design.” The idea of Northside Artlets came from the dream of local residents to have a place to connect with one another and have a shared space for impromptu creativity imbedded in their community.
The Artlets will be scaled to support 1-10 people where residents make music, read, dance, teach, draw, and share. We hope they will be magnets for increasing cultural exchange, like front porches were in times past.
While the project is being led by Chapman Cultural Center, critical partners include the Northside Neighborhood Association, Northside Development Group, Northside Voyagers, Spartanburg County Public Libraries, Wofford College, Spartanburg Community College, Spartanburg Methodist College, the City of Spartanburg, and other professional artists and private supporters.
For more information about Blasko and to see some of his work, please visit online and . For more information about neighborhood based arts programs or Northside Cultural Arts Plan, please call Melissa Earley, Outreach Impact Director, Chapman Cultural Center at 864.542.ARTS.

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