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'Get Art: Give Hope'

Austin nonprofit offers homeless artists a voice with annual showcase and sale

By Caitlin Greenwood, Fri., Nov. 8, 2013

A landscape by Stacy
A landscape by Stacy
Courtesy of Art From the Streets

The stereotyped portrait of a renowned artist often comes in a neat, pristine, and somewhat pretentious package. She might be caught gallivanting around New York, donning a sharp blazer with vestiges of today's work visible on her ink-stained hands. While that image is romantic, it speaks to a level of art that is not only inaccessible by today's standards but also exclusive. Great artists are often hidden in plain view. A masterpiece depends solely on raw talent, but cultivating that creativity can be a hurdle, especially if the artist at hand is sleeping on a sidewalk.

Austin-based nonprofit Art From the Streets offers homeless individuals not only studio space to work on their art but also a supportive artistic community with which to collaborate. Homeless artists who utilize the open studio space or attend art classes are given an annual opportunity to showcase their work. In 2012, Art From the Streets' showcase – its 20th – raised more than $57,000 for artists and was attended by over 850 participants. With such popularity fueling the event, Art From the Streets had to relocate its exhibition from St. David's Episcopal Church, and will kick off the 21st show at its new home, the Austin Convention Center, on Nov. 9 and 10. More than 2,000 works of art will be on display and for sale, with prices starting at $35. The art ranges from acrylic paintings to pencil drawings, with an array of diverse styles and subject matter. All proceeds from sales go directly back to the artist in an attempt to alleviate the causes of homelessness. These sales help provide the artists with clothing, food, transportation, and other basic needs.

The exhibition, titled "Get Art: Give Hope," seeks both to provide the Austin community with a glimpse into the widespread imagination the city's disenfranchised population holds and to empower homeless artists in their creative pursuits. Art From the Streets board member Bill Jeffers says, "I think visitors will be astonished at the beauty and hopefulness and sheer creative energy of the work these homeless and formerly homeless people have created. Seeing what they have created will change your mind about who they are."

A $5 donation is suggested at the door to continue funding for programs and events, and many of the artists will be on-site to discuss pieces with potential buyers. "Get Art: Give Hope" runs Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 9-10, noon-5pm. For more information, visit www.artfromthestreets.com.

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