Kings & Queens of Art to Confront Darkness and Defy Stereotypes with a Mobile Art Gallery and Classroom

A rendering of Gwendolyn Garth’s vision of a mobile art gallery and classroom.

Founder Gwendolyn Garth is in the process of re-inventing the nonprofit organization Kings & Queens of Art with a project called Confronting Darkness and Defying Stereotypes. At its heart will be a mobile art gallery and classroom that will serve dual purposes: to develop, promote, and increase the visibility of the artwork of minority and marginalized artists (i.e. returning citizens and youth-at-risk) in all disciplines of art: visual and performing; and to function as a mobile classroom teaching art and adult literacy.

She is in search of a vehicle to convert into this facility, and invites anyone with such a prospect to contact her.

“Our citizens who are presently incarcerated are often referred to as ‘The Forgotten Population,’” Garth says. “More than 650,000 prisoners are released nationwide each year (5,000 return to Cuyahoga County), and the reintegration of men and women leaving prison is challenging policymakers and practitioners at the federal, state, and local levels. Often cited as being of greatest concern is the high rate of recidivism among former prisoners—half of whom return to prison within three years—yet, recidivism is only one outcome in the process of leaving prison and returning home. In Cleveland, 66 percent of adult residents are functionally illiterate.”

“As a creative art therapy specialist, and as a formerly-incarcerated artist and recovering alcoholic and addict now in uninterrupted sobriety, I have firsthand knowledge that one of the struggles of presently- and formerly-incarcerated artists lies in their personal searches of self-acceptance and community acceptance.”

This outreach project was conceived with “recidivism prevention” in mind. It is my intent to allow for and build direct relationships between presently and formerly incarcerated artists, neighborhood artists, and the communities they inhabit or anticipate coming home to.

The Art Palace on Wheels brings the Arts “Outside,” literally and metaphorically. It creates a public art gallery platform that will reach Clevelanders who don’t frequent local cultural institutions.

My intent is to travel to accessible public spaces such as libraries, schools, park districts, parking lots, and vacant lots throughout Cuyahoga County and beyond. Performing art programs will accompany the exhibit and will take place outside the mobile art gallery or in nearby publicly-accessible spaces.

This exhibition is not intended to be seen as a trip to the zoo or the opening of a cabinet of curiosities. This is an exhibition of sincere attempts to “confront darkness and defy stereotypes” in the minds of the artists themselves and in the minds of our community.

Anyone who has a lead on a school bus or similar vehicle that could be converted to serve this purpose is encouraged to contact her.

1385 East 34th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

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