by Susan Herst
Exploring social issues through his art, Dave Alsobrooks has been steadily working on his “New Neighbors” project in his somewhat limited free time. His full time job as a partner at a marketing firm in Durham keeps him quite busy. This past weekend at Third Friday I met Dave, an artist, designer and thinker, in his Golden Belt studio and learned more about this project which I first read about in the newspaper this past summer. His four goals are:
- Install art in vacant buildings that encourages new occupants
- Inspire residents across Durham to visit other areas of the city
- Mount installation art on canvas and auction to help local organizations
- Create a sense of pride in the city for all residents
Here is how he describes the project:
What if we caught glimpses of “New Neighbors” living in currently abandoned properties? Not in a shady voyeuristic way, but in a reassuring way. This is precisely what the New Neighbors project in East Durham will create. Empty and boarded windows on front facades of vacant buildings and homes will be filled with bold color and silhouettes of potential occupants: a classroom of students eager to learn, a young woman heating water for hot tea, a birthday party for a five-year-old. And so on. Until all of the windows simultaneously exhibit a vibrant community of neighbors. After a month-long installation, the art will be dismantled, applied to stretched canvas and auctioned at a special event to benefit local preservation and arts organizations. New Neighbors will call attention to vacant properties in a positive way. The intent is not to merely point out vacancies, but more to point out that these abandoned properties are primed, much like a fresh canvas, for transformation.
I can’t wait!