Ajo, AZ (pop. 3,705)

On January 6th, I pulled into Ajo, AZ in my little yellow school bus, where I had the sincere privilege of meeting a number of artists and leaders in the community. The video featured below includes snippets from interviews conducted with the following Ajo residents:

Emily and Stuart Siegel are the Co-Directors of the Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center - in this clip, they talk about being introduced to the term Creative Placemaking and how they balance their desire to be an arts destination with the realities of running a business;

Kat Anderson is a local muralist - in this clip, she talks about what attracts artists to Ajo and some of the initiatives of local artists and leaders to help revitalize the area;

Wolf is a local muralist whose work can be found on buildings all over Ajo - in this clip, Wolf talks about the role of the artist in community development from his eclectic studio; 

Thomas Kiefer is a local photographer and former janitor at the border patrol station near Ajo - in this clip, Thomas talks about how he got started photographing artifacts that are stripped and discarded from people who are caught trying to cross the border. Check out his work at www.tomkiefer.com.

Hitting the Road: A Prologue

Two months ago, I had no idea that I was going to buy a school bus and travel across the country interviewing rural-based artists - I had no idea that I would need to learn how to insure a converted school bus, to use the big truck diesel gas pumps, to wait until the "glow plugs" light goes off to turn the key - and, I had no idea that I would be having phone conversations with artists across the country in towns under 10,000 people planning the day that I pull into their community in said school bus to learn from their incredible work. 

Then, the election happened... and the maps that showed the glaring divides between urban and rural surfaced... and, I bought a bus and planned a trip - a cross country rural art documentary and mobile artist residency kind of trip. And, with the help of some amazing partners (Springboard for the Arts, Creative Exchange, and Art of the Rural) and support from individuals through an Indiegogo campaign, I hit the road on January 4th. 

I wanted to post this brief prologue to let any one who reads this blog know that what I will be posting on this blog will be excerpts, snippets, beginnings of themes, through-lines and connections, and basic reflections along the road. They will not be finished products - think of them more as trailers for a future product!

What that future product is - well, I still don't know... I am a processed based artist on a journey to learn from incredible people working in my field. I will be capturing these stories in many different formats and when it is all over, I will compile what I have learned into something that I hope will be useful and artful. 

I am also thrilled that these findings will be presented at the Rural Arts and Culture Summit in June and at Art of the Rural's Outpost Gallery in Winona in July! I will be posting on this blog every three days, but if you want more regular updates, please join our Facebook Group or follow-us on Instagram @publictransformation. 

Thanks for getting on the bus! More soon!

Source: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/public-...

Preparing for the Journey!

Hello world! It's that incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking time when you launch a brand new project that you care very much about! Eeeek! Currently, I am in the process of confirming the tour schedule by emailing and calling artists and organizations based in rural communities across the country. I pick up Gus, the bus, on January 2nd and will start posting regular updates at that time. Please follow along on this "Stories" blog starting in the new year. And, if you have any questions about the project, please feel free to be in touch - I love hearing ideas and collaborating on every step along the way... Here we go!