Several weeks ago, one of the front windows of my gallery was broken. By a rock. Thrown through it. Fortunately, no art was damaged.
I wasn’t at the gallery at the time but was told by several that the “usual group of kids” who are always on the street grew to a crazy number and they got a bit rowdy and things happened.
Initially, I reached out to the community through an online forum and positioned the broken window as an opportunity for us as a community to come together to help provide the kids with more opportunities.
Unfortunately, when I reached out, I wasn’t clear enough and the kids who are regulars on the street took the blame and the heat and I was frustrated as heck about it.
My hope was to reach out to the community, not being a parent, to help get input and create things to do, places to go etc. so that all of these kids have a place to just be what they are and do what they do.
I received several "thank you for not prosecuting" emails. UGHHHH… again. my FAIL. not my point. my point is that the kids need more outlets, more opportunities…
The kids that are regulars on the street, they are incredibly passionate and dedicated. They are skate boarders and they skate their hearts out and I think it’s truly admirable. But they are incredibly misunderstood and I had to chuckle a bit to myself when the thought went through my own head, “skateboarding is not a crime!” I never thought much about it until now, when these kids were immediately blamed. Now I get it.
Having grown up right here in small town Vermont and loving things that are outside the “norm” I do have a sense of what it’s like when other people don’t “get” the things you’re interested in. I know what it’s like not to have an outlet for it or a connection to any sense of community. Last year, a girlfriend in the area told me that four of her daughter’s close friends had committed suicide in the past couple of years, for very much those reasons. When I heard that, I felt completely and utterly gutted.
I can’t change the world. I can’t save anyone or anything. But, I do feel, that to be a productive part of the community, it’s my job to try to do something. And for me, that something is this mural. I want to provide a space for alternative expression and something that these kids can point to and say, “hey I did that!” and hopefully feel some sense of connection to their own community.
So I reached out to some amazing street artists in Burlington, (Anthill Collective) told them the story of the suicides, the story of these kids taking the heat for something that is either 1. not their fault or if it even is, 2. was an accident (and god knows adults do much worse things!) and asked them if we could do a mural on the outside wall of the gallery. just a small space to give these kids some voice, a place for their own creative expression and a little bit of ownership in their very own community. I have received permission from the town and the building owners and the artists are super excited so it’s a GO!!
These are amazing kids doing awesome things, whether we “get” them or not is irrelevant. They are passionate, dedicated and committed. They will grow up to be the leaders of this world and they will affect positive change. They deserve our respect and support.
We will be painting the mural this SUNDAY, September 25th. Check out our Facebook page for more images & definitely check back on Sunday to see the finished wall!!