Naked City

ARCH's 'Streets' Scenes

Art by Michael Reed Stockton
Art by Michael Reed Stockton

Recently, much has been made about the placement of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless on the corner of Seventh and Neches and its effect on downtown businesses. (Last week, the City Council received a briefing on potential new city ordinances to crack down on panhandling, sidewalk sleeping, and the like, at the behest of downtown residents and property owners and to the chagrin of advocates for the homeless.) There has been much less talk about the important community resources the ARCH provides (shelter, day care, education, access to identification needed to rent or work, etc). Even less known is the fact that the ARCH is home to Arts From the Streets, a weekly art class held on the second floor.

On a recent visit, we found Christi Pate, one of the co-directors of the program, helping artist Stacy Lynn Golden to price the 24 pieces she submitted for the upcoming AFTS show (Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 13-14, noon-5pm). A lifelong resident of Austin, Golden is homeless – again – as of the day before, given the boot by a roommate she met through a Salvation Army program. Her bright pink daisies and fiery cauldrons are among the 2,300 works of art slated for sale this weekend. Prices range from $30 to $350, and all proceeds (save $5 per sale to help AFTS pay for mounting costs and supplies for the coming year) go directly to the artist. "Some people make all the money that they're going to make for the year at this show, and they get housing," explains Pate. On the other hand, one artist, who is currently homeless, went so far as to turn over all her sales, about $100, to the program.

Across the room, artist Michael Reed Stockton sits, meticulously signing an impressive array of paintings and drawings as fellow artists look on, repeatedly exclaiming over his talent. "They support the hell out of each other," explains Heloise Gold, who co-founded the program 13 years ago. "There's a lot of camaraderie and security. That's one of things that has made this a real success."

Richard Troxell, president of House the Homeless, credits the AFTS show with bringing disparate factions of the Austin community together. "People that wouldn't ordinarily socially interact, those that are wary of one another – it puts them in a benign setting where they can enjoy the pleasures of art," he says. "It's a wonderful thing: People walk away with a whole different perspective about those who are experiencing homelessness."

Gold agrees. "This is why the project blows your mind, because it breaks all stereotypes, just shatters them."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, ARCH, Arts from the Streets, AFTS, Christi Pate, Heloise Gold, Richard Troxell, Stacy Lynn Golden, Michael Reed Stockton

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