“Painting, it’s how I pray. It’s how I use my hands,” Thomas Carney said. Carney has been an artist with ArtStreet for the past two years.
Over 200 people gathered together on a Friday night at the Harwood Art Center for ArtStreet’s “Recycled Heart” exhibit, featuring Carney’s work as well as over 80 other artists. The exhibit focuses on the injustice of poverty and homelessness together through contemporary art made of old, recycled, and reused objects.
This is the 22nd annual show, made possible through the collaboration between the Harwood Art Center and the Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless (AHCH). The exhibit contains over 100 pieces of art, ranging from sculptures, collage, paintings, jewelry, and drawings.
ArtStreet artists price the art themselves, and receive 100 percent of the proceeds. The organization of the annual exhibition began in November 2017.
“The power of art is something beyond words, that really allows us as individuals to connect to a different, deeper, more expansive part of ourselves. We’re able to re-envision ourselves, our lives, and our place in the world, and we’re breaking out of boxes,” Mindy Grossberg, ArtStreet Program Coordinator, said.
“It’s a low-threshold entryway to getting services that might otherwise be a little tougher to get because you don’t have to fill out a bunch of paperwork or read a bunch of lines, instead, you just come in and make art,” Grossberg said. “Who wants to hang out at a doctor’s office? People who might have had poor experiences with clinics before can come to ArtStreet and build relationships with staff or other artists and learn about all the other programs, and that’s what’s nice about being connected to a larger agency.”
ArtStreet is a program of AHCH. ArtStreet provides a community-based open art studio, bringing together artists weekly – homeless and housed – on Thursdays and Fridays.
Grossberg first heard about ArtStreet while at a conference in Cairo, Egypt, although she was living just a few hours south of Albuquerque, in Las Cruces. Grossberg has been involved with ArtStreet for over 17 years now, and running the studio for nine years, she said.
Funding for ArtStreet is 12.9 percent of the AHCH budget. It is considered one of their several social and behavioral health day programs, including STARS case management, counseling and therapy, harm reduction outreach, housing and navigation, and their resource center.
In 2016, AHCH served more than 7,000 clients through their programs, as well as their medical clinic, dental clinic, and pharmacy.
“There’s three things I take seriously: being sober, my health, and my art,” Carney said.
Carney is 64 years old, and spent over 20 years living in San Francisco where he studied at the San Francisco Art Institute. He moved to Albuquerque from Seattle, and had been homeless for about 3 months until he recently got an apartment in November.
Carney creates abstract paintings mostly, but works with mixed media, including found materials, charcoal, chalk, and pastels. Cheap paint and jazz fuels his art.
“A lot of my art is improvisational, with white spaces as pauses, just like in music. My art is for people. I want people to hopefully feel the energy. There’s a lot of clichés, but it is a healing thing.”
ArtStreet’s “Recycled Heart” exhibit will run through Feb. 22. Additional information on future and current ArtStreet events can be found on their Facebook page.
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