OFFCenter: Community Art – Generation Justice

“The Art of Devotion” lines the wall on one side of the studio. People eat at tables, and the sound of Wagogo’s rhythm fills the room from the corner that serves as their performance space in OFFCenter Art Studio. It’s First Friday Coffee House, and we’re having a great time.

OFFCenter director Ron Breen tells me that OFFCenter is about giving people without access to art studios a place to express themselves and their art in a safe and well stocked place. More important, he tells me, OFFCenter is about community. OFFCenter is open to anyone and everyone, he assures me, but 70% of the artists here are low income, and half of those are below the poverty line.

Tonight, it’s definitely about the community. Everyone mills around, looking at art, talking, building their community. The theme tonight, Art of Devotion, is about what the artists are devoted to; family, friends, even art itself. All the works are on sale, with proceeds going towards OFFCenter, and the artists. To artist Sharie Fabian, OFFCenter is therapy. She’s one of the third of OFFCenter’s board of directors that is part of the low income artists in OFFCenter’s community. The atmosphere here, of friends and art is not one she feels she could get anywhere else. Even though she does some of her art at home, she says OFFCenter gives her something unique. The therapeutic aspect is something she says a lot of the artists share.

Whether it’s therapy, art, or simple laughs, its perfectly clear sitting here, surrounded by artists and friends, that OFFCenter has built a remarkable community here in this small downtown studio.

by: Kyle Farris