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'Live in America Springdale' makes art part of the neighborhood

The Live in America residency house was covered in fabric by artist Danielle Hatch for an exhibition in October.
Live in America
The Live in America residency house was covered in fabric by artist Danielle Hatch for an exhibition in October.

When the 'Live in America festival' launched in 2022 in conjunction with the Momentary, the festival's curator, Cara Martinez, was unsure what the future of the ambitious project would be. Then, she was approached by someone from the Tyson Family Foundation.

"They came to me and asked: 'what would you want to do next?'" she said.

Martinez said she and a group of local artists thought about what they would need to develop art and arts programming in Springdale.

"So what we asked for from the Tyson Family Foundation is a house," she said.

And that house- which Martinez refers to as la nidada or the nest - is now the base for the Live in America Springdaleartist residency.

So far the 1908 two-story, yellow home on the corner of Holcomb and Maple has hosted art exhibitions on the lawn, held a New Orleans-style bounce music concert and writing workshop and even been covered in fabric by visual artist Danielle Hatch.

Martinez explained that while the initial Live in America festival was meant to show off local communities, the latest iteration of the project is to embed art within the community of Springdale and lower the barrier to entry that Martinez says a lot of traditional museums or arts spaces in the area have.

"The way that art institutions historically work is not thinking through who your neighbor is. What is the art that they need in their life," Martinez said.

She believes this house and the way her organization programs exhibits help to break down some of the barriers people have in accessing the arts.

"We have conversations with our neighbors," she said. "They say they're scared to go to Crystal Bridges... and if they're not going to enter those spaces, how do I create access via this house to Artmaking? And it's a it's a practice that I believe changes people's lives. But it can't change your life if you don't have access to it. So, it becomes an experiment in creating access for the community that typically doesn't feel welcome in art spaces. "

One of the first programs that Live in America hosted earlier this year was just that: a community art show on the lawn of the house - called "Yard Art" with pieces from Springdale artist Audrey Vega.

"And strangers would just walk up and be like, can we come?" she said. "It's not a formal institutional space. And so people know what to do with yards...We're going to put games, we're going to put drinks and snacks and some art, and then you just hang out like you already know how to hang out in the space of a home."

Martinez said the residency program attracts artists from the community or those who understand and can adapt to the rhythms of Springdale.

"They walk around a lot. They take line dancing classes at the Jones Center," she said. "They find nooks and crannies of this town that I don't know about."

And while Martinez isn't sure what the future of the house or the residency - or the house - will look like long term, she believes keeping the same free-range community feel is vital.

"When Danielle was here, we were sitting at the dining table having a meeting, and she talked about her comfortability and her ability to be honest in a space that is a house," Martinez said. "So how do we create spaces that are permeable and that are also welcoming so that when art goes up in the yard, strangers knock on the front door and ask, what is this? That's the thing that I'm super interested in."

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Daniel Caruth is KUAF's Morning Edition host and reporter for Ozarks at Large<i>.</i>
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