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Save Our Streets revived with with Urban Art Festival

Kassmin Williams | 8/14/2013, 11:28 a.m.
Tony Diaz worked alongside three other street artists to fill blank white boards with graffiti in the far center of ...
Tony Diaz creates a piece of street artwork live at the urban art festival.

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Save Our Streets Boston

Kids participated in a number of activities at the festival, such as face painting.

Tony Diaz worked alongside three other street artists to fill blank white boards with graffiti in the far center of the Francis D. Martini Memorial Shell Park in Hyde Park as spectators observed.

This was one source of entertainment that last month’s Urban Art Festival, hosted by Save Our Streets, offered to attendees at the daylong family-friendly event.

To the street artists’ right a small crowd hovered around a stage and watched live performances.

In the center of the park some kids played a game of Frisbee while others created artwork of their own on the upper half of the field.

The event attracted about 100 people and served as a kick-off for the organization that is looking to re-establish itself after a two-year hiatus.

Fitzgerald David, who started SOS in 2008, funds the organization out of pocket and had to put his vision for SOS on pause when he lost his job.

“I think the greatest thing about the event is it [created] some momentum for our organization and hopefully we can keep it going,” David said.

The purpose of the festival was to bring together local performers, artists and poets to provide a community platform to promote the arts as a positive diversion and alternative to violence in urban communities in the city.

The message was heard loud and clear by attendees who said they appreciated the organization providing entertainment for the youth and local artists who were grateful for the opportunity to perform in their hometowns and for a cause.

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Save Our Streets Boston

This street artwork created by Merk Those during the Urban Arts Festival takes a stand against gun violence.

A spoken-word poet who performed at the festival and goes by the name London Bridgez grew up in Roxbury, but has often traveled outside of the state to find performance opportunities.

“There seems like there’s this movement over the last year to revitalize the art scene here so this event is a part of that revitalization and this is an urban arts festival that is specifically for … Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan,” Bridgez said. “It’s great to have entertainment in our neighborhoods.”

Boston R&B singer April Stanford said she appreciated the opportunity to promote peace in the community and sing for a “great cause.”

“I think the more we try to raise awareness and promote peace, that’s great,” Stanford said.

Sirae Richardson, who attended the event with her nephews with the intention of supporting Stanford, said she realized how important the event was to the community after arriving.

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Save Our Streets Boston

J. Hoard and The Greenhouse People was one of many performers at the Save Our Street’s First Annual Urban Arts Festival.

For Richardson, the event provided a rare opportunity for Boston youth to interact with each other.

“Having something where they can meet kids their age, especially for my nephews, it’s a blessing,” Richardson said.

For Boston resident Teila Gray, the event was about more than the entertainment.

It was about creating positive moments for Boston communities that are most often associated with negativity, Gray said.

“[The festival is] really important for our community because it’s something positive,” Gray said. “I think it’s really good for their kids to see role models and positive things in the community.”