Urban Art Exchange stables

Art created in stables? See it yourself Saturday

Betsy PriceCulture, Headlines

Urban Art Exchange stables

Urban Art Exchange teen apprentices on Saturday will display what they created in the newly converted stables.


The city of Wilmington and CityFest Inc. will show off their new Urban Artist Exchange and the work of its 21 teen summer apprentice artists Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The open house will coincide with Wilmington Open Streets and precede a 6 p.m. storytelling, drumming and dance performance at the nearby amphitheater.

All the events are free.

“Because we had a critical mass of people there, we decided we would give them an opportunity to see what we envision happening on that site,” said Tina Betz, director of cultural affairs and fund development for the city.

The Urban Artist Exchange  at 1500 Walnut Street in Wilmington’s East Side Historic District is designed to be a creative placemaking project that engages the community. It’s near the Clifford Brown Listening Garden at 16th Street and Clifford Brown Walk

This cheery mural welcomes guests to the stables converted into artist studios

This cheery mural welcomes guests to the stables converted into Wilmington’s Urban Artist Studios.

Turning stables into studios

The exchange was carved out of the former Wilmington Police Department Mounted Patrol Stables, a project that’s been in the works for more than a decade.

The open streets program regularly closes a city street during summer to encourage the community to socialize and use the streets for recreation.

On Saturday, July 23, it will close the 16th Street Bridge and Jessup Street near the artist exchange.

Activities provided that day will include bike repairs and free bike rentals, as well as booths for community agencies and a prize raffle.



Traffic planners also will let people learn more about a temporary painted traffic circle at the intersection of 16th Street, Jessup Street and Pine Street, where traffic issues are common.

The temporary circle is designed to allow the neighborhood to see if the idea works, and Wilmapco representatives will be there to hear feedback.

In addition, the streets program will offer cans of spray paint and bibs/aprons on site. Kids and adults are invited to grab a can and contribute artwork to help fill in the circle.

On Saturday, July 23, it will close the 16th Street Bridge and Jessup Street near the artist exchange.

Betz said the Artist Exchange open house date was chosen to coincide with the open street so more people would have an opportunity to see the work of the young artist. They are paid by Cityfest’s Arts Work program, which hires city youth for the summer.

Cityfest is a nonprofit that seeks sponsorships, grants and donations to help subsidize the city’s financial and staffing contributions. One of its focuses is improving the quality of life for citizens of Wilmington, primarily through cultural and arts programing.

When Betz and other city officials became interested in converting the stables, the Urban Bike Project was working out of one building on the property and had already done a capital campaign to renovate their building.

The city leased that building to the bike project and the stables and rest of the property to Cityfest. The stables project was phase one. Phase two will include the construction of the nearby amphitheater and its performance platform, as well as stormwater management.

“When we entered into the agreement five years ago that created the Urban Artist Exchange,” said Mayor Purzycki, “Tina and I envisioned a distinctive destination known for welcoming creative people and using the arts to transform the East Side physically, socially, and culturally.

“This beautiful space has already exceeded all expectations, and we are just getting started. I encourage everyone to take a minute to visit this incredible space to see what we can accomplish when we work together towards a common goal.”

Teen artists

The teen apprentices each specialize in a form of visual arts: painting, ceramics, textiles and fashion.

Kaira Brown and Taylor Spicer Pulliam are lead apprentices.

Working with Kim Canfield in ceramics are Ololade Olubowale, Joshua Prince-Ademusi and Omari Senior.

Charlotte Blake Alston

Charlotte Blake Alston

Working with Julie Hazzard in textiles and dyes are A’yair Gillis, Arica Johnson, Sadie Johnson, Tasnim Williams and Anele York-James.

Working Sa-Kreea Jackson in fashion are Leia Jackson, Amera Midgette, Zah’miera Owens, Morgan Simis and Shaneyce Watson.

Working with Rhonda Schone in painting are Tauson Biggs, JaKayla Cooper Moore, Nia Coverdale, Imari Howard and Jason Moore.

Visitors will be able to go into the building and see their work, but shouldn’t expect to be crammed into a small space. Each of the xxx stables is 18 feet by 18 feet, Betz said.

The stables also are rented out to a choreographer and a dancer who comes in to offer lessons. Small craft artists can rent a studio by the month. Three of the stables were combined into an open community space, which was used last weekend for the final performance of the Wilmington Black Storytelling Residency, also sponsored by the city.

Saturday night’s program will include storytelling by Wilmington’s TAHIRA and internationally known storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston on the stage adjacent to the Clifford Brown Listening Garden. Their family-friendly performance will consist of original stories rooted in the craft of Black Storytelling and the oral tradition.

Their acts will be accompanied by African drumming and dance performance by Pieces of a Dream Inc.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or folding chair.



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