Monticello Road is a community arts project that celebrates the people and places along a one-mile strip through one of America’s most interesting neighborhoods in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The project began when I grabbed my camera on my way out the door for my daily walk to the studio. I spent several hours photographing details along the way. Over the past two years, I have returned again and again during different seasons. I soon began talking my way into homes and businesses and engaging with strangers.
The results have been astonishing. Nearly everyone I met was friendly and forthcoming with interesting stories to tell. The more folks I talked to, the more I wanted to know them—and the more people I wanted to meet. I fell in love with my community.
It’s been a big lesson about what art can do to bring a community together. I feel knitted into my neighborhood like never before and I hope my efforts give others a greater sense of being part of something larger—something very special.
The Exhibition and Community Events
The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative is presenting an exhibition of my photographs in April, 2012. The show will include dozens of large prints plus a slide show of more than a hundred faces from Monticello Road. An eighty-page catalog accompanies the exhibition.
This project is about much more than pictures on the wall, however. We are organizing a series of community events, including a film screening, youth programs, storytelling, a panel about neighborhood planning (part of AIA Architecture Week), tours of local enterprises, an artists’ panel and more.
I envision the project extending into a lasting document of images and videos of oral histories in a manner that is widely available. It is truly an interdisciplinary celebration of a neighborhood and the arts as a catalyst for social cohesion.
For more information about what we’re doing, please visit our web site, www.monticelloroad.com
How You Can Help
Monticello Road is a community project: many have contributed and it belongs to us all. All events are open to the public, free of charge, and planned with the goal of bringing new audiences to the arts. I hope you will join us or take a look at what we’re doing.
As a community event, we need you to share in whatever way you are able. Many have bartered their services, contributed expertise, or simply offered food for the opening reception and other events.
The financial cost of the project has been very significant and so far I have footed every expense as an act of faith in my community. Although I have kept the overhead as low as possible, everything is costly: I have given away countless prints (many professionally framed), I’ve done several free photo booths, a web site, several rounds of postcards, this video, an extensive catalog and a costly exhibition whose images will be offered on a pay-what-you-can basis.
Additionally, many have poured countless hours into the project and we firmly believe that professionals should be paid for their efforts and vendors paid promptly. The oral histories video will need funding and the Bridge itself is a worthy endeavor. I hope you will contribute as much as you are able.
This project is a new model for the arts as a way to bring communities together. Its success will inspire others and make the world a better place.
- (33 days)