Special/Signature Issues » The Arts 25

Town Hallmark

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There's always a cause -- the one that understands the problem and offers a good solution. Marlene Paul, at the helm of Art 180 since 1998, seems to have things well in hand. Which may be why her organization shows up on other profiles in this list — artists have gotten behind it.

Which is the point of Art 180, really: to introduce new ways of expression to youth who might not otherwise get a chance to make a film or mural, and to find artists to handle the introductions. The children change, the artists change, and next thing you know, there's a community.

"There's just a lot of well-meaning, good, good people in this town," Paul says, "whether they're artists or just connected to the community through art." This of course is what makes it so difficult to chart the progress of these young people. Art doesn't have an easy statistic to hold onto. But there are some tangible rewards in its ninth year, with Art 180 working with its largest group of young people — more than 100 of them at nine sites throughout the city — and with programs ranging from painting pet houses, to directing a music video, to learning to cook.

An organization called The "I Have a Dream" Foundation has adopted Broad Rock Elementary's third grade and will follow its students through high school. If they graduate, they get their college tuition paid. It's part of Art 180's long-term reach.

Until then, there are the Open Studio series at the end of the year and The Big Show next spring, where all these artists, big and small, show off what they've done in their little communities.

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