Last September marked the first-ever Black Lives Matter (BLM) Art Walk in downtown Renton, which featured many local Black artists — each with very powerful messages.
In hopes of continuing the exhibit’s positive impact and encouraging future change, 12 of the canvases are being printed onto postcards. This was made possible by a grant from the Renton Municipal Arts Commission, a group that supports arts and culture within the Renton community.
Organized and led by Franchesca Vargas Smith, the art walk was turned into a virtual event due to COVID-19.
Several local businesses participated by displaying the artists’ works within store windows. Performances of dance, song, and spoken word were recorded and shown on screens throughout the city like Boona Boona Coffee, Mr. Naturalz Salon, Ascendance Pole, and Aerial Arts. It was also accessible via the VisitRenton app.
“We left the displays up for several weeks,” Smith said. “Many people thought it was a moving tribute. It helped community members to reach a better understanding and connection to the BLM movement through art.”
Works by Charde Brown, Ess the Artist, Charles Conner, Jonarra Swanson, LeShawn Gamble, and Trenise Williams will be featured.
Along with the artist’s name, description of the work, and a link for info about commissions or donations, the postcards will also have the slogan: “Renton, Washington, where equity, equality, and diversity are valued.”
“One of the reasons we really wanted to create the postcards is to continue to project the message,” Smith said. “Just because your feed on Instagram or Facebook went back to normal, there is still an issue and we still have to work together to make a change.”
The postcards will be placed at various locations throughout downtown Renton and are available for free.
The second BLM Art Walk is slated for May 22-23 to mark the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd.
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