Thursday night’s opening of “Art Alley” was exactly what Paul Rutkovsky first envisioned nearly 10 years ago. It was about two and a half years ago when the idea of transforming an abandoned alleyway between Gaines and St. Francis streets into an art-and music-infused boardwalk began to take off.
The end result represents the fruits of many long hours of work that ranged from the donation of in-kind services and land to securing foundation grants. All of this in the spirit of realizing Rutkovsky’s vision of transforming an eyesore alleyway into an environment where painters could paint, musicians could entertain and the curious could become curators.
It should also serve as a statement of what can happen when all cylinders click and government, businesses and the community come together to make it happen. And, as the nearby Gaines Street corridor continues to attract investors and developers, let’s hope that commissioners protect parts of this district as an arts community that brings people together.
The success or failure of Art Alleys depends on the participation of the community, the neighborhood, the people.
If you know Rutkovsky, you’re familiar with the man’s creative ideas that come every minute. He’s the kind of guy who probably would love to see a hundred or more artists holding a 24-hour paint-a-thon on Kleman Plaza, with spaces reserved for kids to doodle. Where everyday people could express themselves, talk about community connecting and then making it happen. But, for now, the focus is on the Art Alley.