WE LIVE HERE
The Artists of Benton Plaza
The former Hotel Benton is a Neo-Renaissance styled structure which opened in 1925 in downtown Corvallis, Oregon. Repurposed as a mixed use building and renamed Benton Plaza, it blends small businesses and social service programs on its lower floors while offering supported housing opportunities on its upper floors. Some 50+ residents meet the requirements for housing and live in studio style apartments here. For the past two years ArtWorks has operated an art gallery and studio in Benton Plaza. ArtWorks is a program of Collaborative Employment Innovations or (CEI). CEI is recognized state-wide as a progressive agent, linking job seekers considered to have disabilities to employment opportunities.
Over time it has become clear that many of the residents of Benton Plaza are engaged in extraordinary creative practices. Some resident practitioners came forth early on and have been mainstays of our ‘open studio’ program. Over time we have been introduced to many other creatives who live here. Discussing this informally with those who have expertise in both the arts and housing, we recognized that roughly 30% of those living here are engaged creatively. This seems like an amazing accounting and frankly given that we so often undervalue creative lives, this number seemed startling to us. We wonder if this is typical and if so are we underestimating the potential and numbers of those who create in a singular fashion all around us day in and day out, or could it be that there is something unique about the culture of this place?
Though we can’t answer this we feel that this is a thread that bears consideration. With this exhibit we celebrate the achievements of some of those who live(d) in this place and also indulge in some speculation on the nature of creation.
Bruce Force: Brute Force Article
Eugene Weekly: Eugene Weekly Article
Gazette-Times: Corvallis Gazette-Times Article
OUTPOST1000:http://outpost1000.weebly.com/we-live-here-the-artists-of-benton-plaza.html , CEI: http://ceiworks.org/