Talk of the Bay from KSQD
Talk of the Bay from KSQD
What's Home? Artists Inspire Homeless Dialog

We hear from two artists, Cynthia Strauss, a performance artist, and Angela Gleason, a metal and jewelry artist about their collaborations with unhoused locals on expressing and discussing this issue through art


Police Chief Bernie Escalante and Unhoused Musician Sonny Lopez and Rap Artist Alwa Gordon Collaborate On New Song!

This and other collaborations between local housed and unhoused participants and artists premiere on April 15th at the 418 Project in Santa Cruz with the What’s Home? Creative Listening Across Differences project.

How will audience members respond to documentary footage of rap artist Alwa Gordon’s conversations with unhoused musician, Sonny Lopez and housed, Santa Cruz Police Chief Bernie Escalante? What feelings may come from hearing Alwa’s world premiere that is inspired from those conversations?
How will Radius Gallery visitors respond when they view video from inside the crocheted shelter that artist and former mayoral candidate Joy Schendledecker created based on her conversations and crochet experiences with housed mayor Fred Keeley and unhoused artist and community activist Greg Bengston?  The exhibit at the Radius Gallery will be from April 13th – May 7.
What’s Home? Creative Listening Across Differences” is an exploration of our housing crisis in Santa Cruz County viewed through the lens of film and art.
Andrew Purchin, creative director of the project, sees the housing crisis as a major flashpoint:
“For decades I have been a creative witness, by this I mean I make art at sites where there has been tragedy or celebration and have conversations with people,” Andrew said. “I created paintings and had conversations in Santa Cruz near the location where police officers Sergeant Loran Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were killed in 2013. In 2016, I responded to our political polarities by bringing a 170-foot-long “Curious Scroll” to Republican and Democratic national conventions. In 2021, I painted on site at our Benchlands encampment for the unhoused in San Lorenzo Park. At first, I was scared but I found my calm immediately as people came up to me and engaged in conversation about the paintings.”
For “What’s Home?”, Andrew put together a group of artists and creative listeners from a range of disciplines and life stories who could help increase empathy toward our unhoused neighbors and drive compassion from those who have been negatively impacted by the unhoused.
The project began with 10 artists conversing with a housed person and an unhoused person separately before bringing together the unhoused and housed people to explore whathome” means to them. Each artist has drawn inspiration from these conversations to make a new play, song, dance, or visual art piece sharing the broad range of housing scarcity stories that exist in Santa Cruz.
“I am one of those homeless people who refuses to accept being homeless, so it’s a big deal for me,” said Michelle, who has been unhoused since May 2021 and who participated in the project. “During 12 years of my active service in the military I felt more secure in what I was doing, what my mission statement was, you know that I was taking care, somebody had my back and I have been praying that being homeless won’t be that one thing that breaks me because I don’t feel safe being homeless.”
What’s Home?” aims to address the need for the kind of mindset shift that will enable us to be better participants in our communities. With increased empathy, better listening skills, and awareness of our own values and biases, we can more effectively show up to participate in housing solutions.
Conversations are part of documentary clips and will be premiered along with the performances on Saturday, April 15 at 7pm at the 418 Project.  155 River St. Santa Cruz 95060
The new artworks and short documentary clips will be exhibited at the Radius Gallery, Wednesday – Sunday 12-5pm at the Tannery Art Center from April 13 to May 7 with scheduled artists talk on May 7 2-4pm.
Contact: Andrew Purchin, project director 831 345-5044
Marija DeNike, project manager 347 836-2547
  This project has been made possible through a CARD Pilot Grant Program funding.
Arts Council Santa Cruz provided a grant for Screening on the Apr 15th.