Arts Beat

Takoma Park's Green Young Artists

(By Rachel Beckman -- The Washington Post)
By Rachel Beckman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sasha Schneer, 6, is an environmentalist. At a Takoma Park event on Saturday, he painted a poster that said "No Cars." Above the phrase, he painted a purple car with a slash through it. Sasha's mother directed all press inquiries to the artist, who was unavailable.

"The artist stuck his rubber glove in his mouth and discovered it didn't taste good," she said. "He's in the bathroom washing up."

A few minutes later, Schneer emerged from the bathroom ready to talk politics, albeit with a purple mouth.

"I'm trying to convince people to stop using the products that are polluting," he said.

Like what?

"Cars, lawnmowers, factories," he shot back.

Al Gore would be proud.

Sasha, along with about 50 others, participated in a public art project called Vote for Art, hosted by the Takoma Park Arts & Humanities Commission. After the November elections, the group collected 100 or so campaign signs that they painted over with new slogans, most of which leaned toward Earth-friendly causes. Families will post the signs on their lawns on Arts Advocacy Day, Tuesday.

José Dominguez, chairman of the arts commission, was inspired to create Vote for Art when he saw the thousands of campaign signs as well as direct-mail literature littering his community last fall.

"It was such an uncreative time," he said. "I thought, what if there was art in all these places? What would that feel like?"

Karen O. Brown, a Mount Rainier-based artist, led orientation for participants. She brought people outside the Heffner Park Community Center to show them a repainted sign that said "Learn Green, Teach Green" and an "Art Lives" sign that she made from cereal boxes and other recycled materials.

Back inside, Randy Cohen brainstormed about ideas for a sign with his 11-year-old daughter, Mattingly. The Cohens built an addition to their Takoma Park home a year and a half ago and added a corn-burning stove, a solar hot water heater and a carpet made from recycled two-liter Pepsi bottles, which he insists "feels like any normal carpet."

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