Well we are back from our cross country road trip to raise awareness and funds for an open art studio located in Uptown Chicago! An overwhelming trunk full of stories and memories later, as well as several near death experiences-we are no worse for the wear! We have decided though that being lost in the mountains at night (as we were for hours on a couple of occasions) is inherently how this project has felt -filled with twists, turns, dark gravel roads vs glimmers of light, needing to ask for directions, being unsure, being rained on, overcoming fear, questioning why anyone would agree to this in the first place, calling in to lifelines for help, being brave, sending up a few prayers and eventually finding our way.
Oh, and not to mention we had many car glitches (aka hitting a median, overheating in Death Valley on our way to LA, leaking mystery fluid the whole trip, and a service engine light that flickered frequently) which caused us to miss several cities and even be rained out in one while missing a handful of tornado warnings while passing through towns! These types of setbacks also led to us missing the mark in terms of our fundraising goal by quite a bit................ now I know it must seem like I am doing an awful lot of whining and focusing on the negative over here but my point is that there were many many times where it looked like this project was dead in the water, game OVER, better luck next time.. over. done. over.... and aside from our understandable discouragement at times... we never really believed that it was over... in fact even in the face of some really miserable obstacles (for instance a humongous garbage can completely melted to the underside of our car on day two) we believed that we would make it all the way to California..... and we did.
I have had to think long and hard about the project in terms of all of the "now whats" since we are far from our fundraising goal. While that part of the equation feels like failure- I am reminded that often times part of how we stand in our own way of finding meaning in what matters most is our inability to objectively look at how we define success. Now I know that what we did with the project financially thus far is not enough to allow for the studio to stay open, and that part stings...alot. But I also know better than to ever count anything out. Running on heART was an amazing journey that relied heavily on the help of many unfamiliar yet extraordinary people! During our travels we had countless genuine interactions with people and were able to share and listen to so many stories about how art and music have changed lives. We were also given the opportunity to inform so many people about how open art studios provide a stage for these types of experiences and how they benefit community members, especially those marginalized due to mental, physical, or socioeconomic differences.
We have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the project and there are tons of people interested in helping to continue to assist this studio. The support the studio needs may not come about quickly but I do believe that sometimes it is just as important to be a ripple in the pond that gets things going. Our efforts always matter and make a difference on some level to someone and to ourselves-probably more than we even know regardless of how critical our internal dialogue can be at times.
As it stands the open art studio continues to be scheduled to close at the end of the month. There may be a possible last minute closing event here in Chicago before the summer is up, but it is only a tiny tiny thought right now.
So Running on heART is just the first installment of a string of social activism events/projects that pair music and the visual arts together in order to advocate for programs and people in need. After attending the rally at the Thompson Center today it is possible that our work is far from done and we are even debating purchasing another "art car" for future events as we have already donated the original car in Laguna.
Please stay tuned, collaborate with us, donate, advocate, spread the word, reach out, care, etc etc- help keep the spirit of this project alive and well. If the studio closes those involved will only have to fight that much harder to get it back. Please remember how much this studio means to the participants and the people who were wise and brave enough to start it and believe in it. The Running on heART project has definitely reminded me that I have a few unshakable beliefs myself... I believe that that is better to have risked than to have never tried at all..I believe that when the good of people stand behind a worthy cause that that is all you really need and that eventually positive change will occur...I believe that silver linings can be disorientating but a necessary evil, I believe a touch of creativity paired with a bit of senselessness:) and heart will go further than most attributes typically associated with strength or power in matters that involve true value, I believe in the scraggliest of underdogs, and I believe in the power of art.
Thank you, thank you, thank you -to all who have helped support the Running on heART project!