zondag 16 juli 2017

Great turnout for the Rotterdam Makers Expo at yesterday's opening of The Community Museum Oude Westen!

Foto: Cretopia Rotterdam

Yesterday, the Museum van de Wijk (The Community Museum) of Het Oude Westen, Rotterdam has opened its doors with its first ever exhibition of local makers, either living and/or working in the area. The opening drew quite a crowd of interested visitors, who witnessed yours truly taking to the stage to do the honneurs of hosting the event, before giving the stage to our key note speaker Arnoud Molenaar, CEO of Resilient Rotterdam.

Arnoud spoke about the importance of resilience within a city's inhabitants, and especially present in artists and makers, whose creativity often enables them to offer a different approach when tackling problems and taking on challenges that 21st century cities face. Whether it's issues like (over)population and gentrification, sustainability or mobility, the environment and so on, it's more and more social and creative entrepreneurs working together with local government, corporate businesses and other parties to come up with solutions. In that light, he spoke about the significance of local grass roots initiatives such as this Community Museum for connecting people and bringing them together through art and culture.

In times like these, when art and culture indeed are often under pressure, it's a very important and welcome message - one I fully support. But given my passion for the arts, that should come as no big surprise to you all.

After Arnoud's speech, the museum was official open to the public and it was time for people to mix and mingle, while browsing through all the artwork and engaging in conversations with many of the artists who were present. All the while, local singer-songwriter and musical multitalent Nani Kry was playing the Toko51 piano and singing his bluesy/R&B-like songs. It was a very intimate, but positively-spirited event and I can say I am extremely proud to be an active part of all this.

So, time to share with you all something about how this whole project actually came to be. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with fellow creative and social entrepreneurs of Cretopia Rotterdam, who currently have their homebase at Toko51 at the West-Kruiskade and, talking about art, art galleries and art institutions like musea, we wondered (not for the first time) why these organisations often have very little connection with the city they are based in - or at least, they very little show sign that there is such a connection at all. Though I am all for galeries and cultural institutions operating and programming on an international scale, for it is my firm believe that art knows no borders - so I am all for that.

However, it is my personal and professional experience that these organisations are still very much high brow, highly academical and conceptual and have very little room or space for the often exciting work of outsider and street artists, the illustrators, cartoonists and sketchers who do a lot of commissioned work for (online) magazines, who promote and sell their work via online channels such as Instagram, Etsy and so on. It's like there is still this big artificial (and superficial) divide between high and low art - and if there is anything I hate (with a vengeance) it's labels like ''high'' versus ''low'', well, when applied on social structures and statues, and especially when applied to art.

One thing I have also loved about Cretopia and Toko51, is that from the very first moment they opened up, they literally opened the doors and welcomed people from literally all walks of life and from all kinds of different backgrounds to host their events and projects there. Which resulted in the occasional chaos every now and then - but it set the tone for a space in which a lot of exciting creative things could and would happen.

So, when speaking about art and museums and all that, we just thought: why not set up our own neighborhood museum? With the aim of showcasing as much work created and made by local artists and makers, especially those who have very little to no access to existing platforms for exhibiting, promoting or selling their art, products, let alone their skills. So we went out to find both amateur and professional makers, selfmade and outsider artists, makers of handmade products and other craftspeople and asked them if they would display their work at Toko51 during what we apptly named Het Museum van de Wijk (The Community Museum), which now is open weekly from Wednesdays through Saturdays from July 15th up and till with September 30th.

So far, we already found over 20 artists who are exhibiting their work, from drawings and paintings to handpainted or handcrafted objects and accessoires, such as clothing, jewelry and bags. It's a very nice group coming from and working in various disciplines - and naturally, yours truly is one of them!

Foto: Caroline de Jager

You can view way more pictures of yesterday's opening on the Cretopia website, of which I shall post a small selection at this blog too, later this week or so.

For now, here's a first impresson of the actual exhibition as it looks like right now, including a couple of pictures of the day before, when we were all busy preparing the venue for the opening. The exhibition will run up and untill with September 30th, so if you are around, feel free to drop by!

Het Museum van de Wijk July 15 - September 30 2017
Toko 51, West-Kruiskade 51 Rotterdam
Open Thursdays - Saturdays 13-17hrs. 
Artwork & Creative Crafts by Jaap de Korte, John Vandergalien, Wolbert van Dijk, Rio Holländer, Snotnose, Mireia, Amine van Lieshout/BagMe, Margo Ramp, Diana van Wijk, Judith de Leeuw/JDL Streetart, Donovan Spaanstra, Esther Schoonhoven, Lenny O., Piet Hein, Robin Hendriks, Francisca Ghiraw, Laura Ketting, Akke Haarsma & Students and Christy de Witt

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