July 13, 2006

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Making their mark
Manchester teens maintain their own art center, auction own work
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Not enough people seem to know about Artist Avenue. Everyone thinks it’s cool when they hear about it, but they don’t show up. It’s frustrating, said Christine Hayward, 19 — a co-coordinator.

Hayward and others pushed to get a teen art center opened after Hot Couch, a teen drop- in center on Elm Street, closed in 2004. Now, they have a space on the top floor of Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., in Manchester, which teens can use (materials, too) for free.

Sound cool? Help support them and see their work Friday, July 14, at their annual silent auction. Bid on donated work from photography to hand-painted shirts. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., admission is free but donations are appreciated. Food will be available and possibly acoustic music.

The teens raised $2,000 at their first auction and $1,000 at their second. They also hold garage sales, and participate in the city’s Open Doors trolley nights. They are in constant fundraising mode to cover rent, supplies and toilet paper. “I don’t have a clue how much I’ve spent of my own money,” Hayward said. Providing quality supplies is important, especially as the city school budgets are cut, she said.

There are only about eight regulars at Artist Avenue right now but their goal is 20.

“Do it because you enjoy it, not because you have to,” Hayward said, and explained lots of people say they love the arts but don’t explore past a school art class or school band. Even though they want to keep the format free enough that kids need to think for themselves, they are not averse to experienced artists volunteering, either with the occasional workshop on technique or with advice on running a nonprofit.

Artist Avenue (myspace.com/artistave) is open Wednesday through Friday, from 3 to 9 p.m. for ages 14 through 20. Teens are welcome to bring their own projects and work on anything creative like drawing, painting, sewing, music, writing or theater.

Artist Avenue, Teen Art Center is run by a teen board under the umbrella of the non-profit For Manchester, which also assists Friends of Stark Park, Adopt-A-Block and the Christmas on Elm Street Parade. For Manchester is “a volunteer network dedicated to helping nonprofit programs that are working to make Manchester a better place in which to live and work,” according to their mission. Artist Avenue has been open to the public since November, and teens have been using the Langer studio since April of last year.

“We’re extremely proud of what the teams have done. They put on events on their own, do fundraising on their own; they’re very motivated and very excited and incredibly talented,” Stephen Abbott, president of For Manchester, said.

“I like the concept that we’re doing this for ourselves. We didn’t just wait around...,” Hayward said.


Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com


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