Any Rotterdammer can make art all summer long. For the fifth time, ‘All You Can Art’ is being held there. An art project with Antillean roots.
“Now everyone has to listen. No, you are listening with your ears. If we want to do something together, you have to stick to the rules. ” Artist Quinda Verheul sits with a group of children in a patio behind a shopping street between a pile of spray cans of paint. She looks stern. It is almost four o’clock, and the first time today that the very youngest participants in the art manifestation All You Can Art must be called to order here in Crooswijk.
Late last year, Verheul opened an art space in the former shop on Crooswijkseweg. She usually arranges exhibitions and art workshops there. Now, due to All You Can Art, the shop and garden are open to everyone from Tuesday to Saturday. Earlier this afternoon, a local resident showed how to prevent drips – thick unwanted paint stains – when spraying paint. Another gave a welding instruction. It is a lively crowd, a mix of people of all ages and backgrounds.
All You Can Art has become a household name in Rotterdam. The basic principle is that anyone who wants to can make art, provided there is good guidance. That idea did not arise in the port city itself, but on Curaçao, at the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB). Since 2006, this art institute, created by artists Tirzo Martha and David Bade, has offered pre-education for young people from Curaçao with art ambitions. Kunsthal in Rotterdam heard about the project, was impressed by the practice-oriented approach and brought it to Holland.
At All You Can Art in Rotterdam, ten artists decide the direction. They have exhibitions in ‘official’ galleries and museums, but they also like to involve people not so often found there in their work. About 25 selected interested people aged 14 and over have lessons by these artists four days a week, for six weeks as a summer school. In return, they help guide all people, young and old, who visit the various projects.
Artist Roxette Capriles is also busy with the kids in the yard. She was born on Curaçao and there she ended up on IBB. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam and returned to the Antilles to teach at IBB. Now she lives and works in Holland again. Last year, her ‘Treasure Junk Museum’ was exhibited in the Het Hem Museum in Zaandam, a space filled with objects that in principle have little value, but together form a treasure trove. She has been involved in All You Can Art for several summers. “The great thing about it is that all kinds of different people meet,” Capriles says. “People you would not normally talk to, but you now have a conversation about making art.”
Capriles helps a 9-year-old girl puzzle Styrofoam. The girl wants to make a heart, a popular motif among her age group. No problem, but the upcoming artist is allowed to think about what she’s doing. “What kind of heart is that?” Capriles asks her. “Is that your heart? What’s going on? And how do you want to show it?” That’s exactly what she loves about the project. “You make people think differently about art: that it’s something they can do too. It changes all the time here, you can not predict what will happen.”
In Kunsthallen, which makes the entire auditorium available on the occasion of the five-year anniversary of All You Can Art, the unsuspecting visitor must change gears. The room, a wide staircase with a walkway in the side, is built and hung with work from previous editions and new projects: buildings, interactive installations, often partly erected by ordinary utensils. There are painting aprons, there are tables with painting paper, there is a printing press with which linocuts can be printed.
There is also the artist David Bade, who was at the cradle of the project on Curaçao at the time. Born on the island, he grew up in the Netherlands and entered the international art world early as a promising artist: he won the Prix de Rome in 1993, had major exhibitions in prestigious institutions. “They were surprised when I set up IBB on Curaçao with Tirzo Martha. Teaching, working with people without a high-brow background, without the name of a major institution behind it, was not seen as something that could last a long time as a serious artist. ”
The institute is located on Curaçao in an empty part of a psychiatric institution. Since its founding, it has received nearly a hundred artists who can work there for a few months and teach Curaçao’s art talents, eighty are now educated from Dutch art schools. The activities are now largely shut down due to the corona. Baths: “Martha is still there, at the moment we are handing out packed lunches”. Fortunately, the project in Rotterdam was able to continue. In a modified and somewhat striped version. “Exchange people, ideas and enthusiasm through art, set the imagination in motion” – that’s what Bade is about. He greatly appreciates Kunsthallen’s collaboration.
Swim bikes from Kunsthal to Pretorialaan in southern Rotterdam. All You Can Art artist Pris Roos and ten summer school students settled on Niffo (‘cousin’ in slang), an accessible neighborhood gallery. The students get a short presentation about the room and make a drawing for the gallery with the drawing and painting materials they have brought with them.
As an artist, Roos also likes to talk to his local community. “My parents came from Indonesia to start a store in the Netherlands. Everyone came together in the store, for food and company, you built a certain relationship with many customers. I also use that principle in my art: for my project ‘Immigrants’, I am currently visiting people who are not considered to be part of Dutch society, in Tarwewijk in southern Rotterdam. We talk, I make film and sound recordings, and I paint a portrait, which I give the person as a thank you. That way, the stranger becomes an acquaintance. ” In Kunsthallen, she has created an interactive set-up, where visitors can see and portray each other in the eyes at the same time.
Roos has lunch in a Surinamese sandwich shop, after which the group takes a look at her studio in Tarwewijk. Before they leave, Bade has a spontaneous message for the summer school students. “Today you get an insight into an artist’s world that works differently than most artists. It is her field of work, the people she works with. No expensive stuff or incomprehensible language. But you can also be a great artist with this. Benefit from it! ”
All you know art can be visited until 30 August in Kunsthal (Tue-Sun) and in Kunstruimte Crooswijk (Tue-Sat) in Rotterdam. www.kunsthal.nl
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