Art Works Now
Art Works Now is a nonprofit arts education organization in Hyattsville, Maryland, committed to community and to reducing economic barriers to participaton in the visual arts. Through programs for students ranging from toddlers to elders, AWN brings arts education and creative opportunities to an underserved population in a developing but still significantly working-class and lower-income community.
After years of occupying, and finally outgrowing, a rented facility in nearby Mount Rainier, Art Works was able to secure a derelict flower shop on US Route 1, adjacent to the Hyattsville Arts District. Director Barbara Johnson was able to create an economic synergy when she brought in Ruth Gresser — her life partner and owner of the successful Pizza Paradiso group of restaurants — to take nearly half of the building for a new, much-welcomed restaurant in a community underserved in both pizza and art.
The new Art Works space preserves the1950’s roadside store/flower shop building, while renovating the already gutted interior for new studios and a gallery, with offices on a partly expanded, and now accessible, second floor. The existing building is now part of an energetic and colorful collage of new and old additions intended to make a new cultural landmark in this strip of repair shops and used car dealers.
Having already designed a house for the clients, this was a labor of love for the architects and their design team, as it was for all involved, from legal counsel to General Contractor. The new facility is an architectural expression of this, and of the excitement generated within by the creative work spilling out the door. Route 1 is better for this project, as is the Hyattsville Arts District, and as is this community who needs and deserves a place to discover and develop their creative lives.
Art and pizza—win/win.