Moorestown community grows stronger with Art About Town

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Moorestown is all about the community. Residents are asked to shop local and come together on Main Street, as many major events are held on the street throughout the year. The storeowners are well known to also support the community, taking part in these events.

Residents and business owners are once again working together to build the community with the Art About Town initiative.

Art About Town is a project between Moorestown business owners, MoorArts and Moorestown Township Public Schools that will be regularly showcasing student artwork in the windows of participating stores and businesses — both to give students and the school district an opportunity to show what is going on in art classes, and also as a way for the businesses to show their support for the arts and relationship with groups in the community. Art is on display at two stores, Health Haven and Moorestown Hardware.

“It’s a great way for the community to see a sampling of what our public schools create within the visual arts classes. Our students create artwork that is creative, insightful and meaningful throughout every grade level. The arts help build strong communication, problem solving, as well as technical skills which prepares and provides students with the skills necessary for success in the 21st century,” Patricia Rowe, supervisor of arts and technology, said.

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“(Moorestown businesses) are all about shop local and being a part of the community, and I think that art can be very healing, so it is a great fit for (Health Haven.) It makes me really happy looking at all of this great artwork,” Donna Wood of Health Haven said.

“Because we do have a Main Street where people gather, we want them to gather more, use our Main Street and be proud of the fruits of our kids’ labor,” MoorArts Visual Arts Trustee Sophia Geiger said.

Art About Town started when Wood approached Candace Coleman, MoorArts communications trustee, at a Moorestown Business Association meeting in regard to displaying student artwork in her store window. She felt art from local students would be a great way to promote healthy living as well as foster the community.

“What better way to advertise what Health Haven is all about by saying we’re about the community? We’re here to be a part of the community. So I thought it would be a great idea to display the artwork,” Wood said.

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Hearing about the initiative at the MBA meeting, Moorestown Hardware owners Pete and Julie Bender, liking to connect with the community and having large windows that can often be hard to display, decided to participate in Art About Town too.

“For us, it is another connection with the town that we love. It is really neat for the kids to see their artwork,” Pete said.

“It brightens up the windows and really helps us out,” Julie said.

Coleman, who loved the idea, met with Geiger, Rowe and MTPS art teacher Toni Paparone to come up with the materials, timelines and artwork needs for the stores involved. Both the high school and middle school participated in preparing 24 student pieces for display.

“The honors visual arts students were currently working on painting projects based on student views concerning social issues when the inception of this exhibition was being discussed. We thought these pieces would be interesting to display throughout the community. They communicate individual student views on the various subject matter as well as the artistic skills of our honors art students,” Paparone said.

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So far, the response to Art About Town has been very positive. Students are excited and proud; the community has been amazed and supportive; and business owners have been delighted with the responses from the community.

“No one can believe how astonishing these works were — and by middle school students … So many people took the time to thank me for displaying the artwork. I could tell that the whole community supports their ‘children,’” Wood said.

“I think people can’t believe that it is just high school students. Parents come in and thank us for having it on display. It’s just another way to connect,” Julie said.

For the future, student artwork will be rotated quarterly at the current stores. The hope is to continue to build a stronger community and for more businesses to take part in Art About Town.

“(We’d like) to continue to build a strong bond between the community and our public schools as well as build upon this initiative to hopefully include more store windows in the future,” Paparone said.

“I hope in years to come that we can continue this tradition with the art classes and all of the schools in Moorestown,” Wood said.