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  Barry Rose - Artist Ross Barnum Library #2








        This community mural project, "At The Circus", has a very interesting story that incorporates aspects from many of the other projects. The art has  hung in the Ross-Barnum Library since 1997, the same year Rose was invited to work with the library staff to try and ease a problem. The Barnum neighborhood (so named for P.T.Barnum, who occasionallly kept his circus animals on land he owned there) has often been a place where new immigrant groups land, sometimes causing tensions with the more established immigrant group. Such was the case when the Vietnamese arrived in a largely Mexican neighborhood. Also, even though the library had stocked books in their native language, the Vietnamese had learned to fear government, and didn't come to use them.
         Enters art. Multi-lingual posters were put around and calls were made encouraging people to participate in a free ceramic mural project at the library. After several sessions, learning about ceramics and doing take home projects, the theme for the mural was discussed. The international phenomenon of the circus was a natural consensus. Each participant then began work on their own interpretation of that theme. Through the weeks of working together, it was also natural that the people got to know each other, relaxed with each other, and though they were from very different backgrounds they all shared a common experience and love of the circus in their childhoods. The mural dedication was a fun party with participants and their families celebrating and admiring the new addition to what was now their library in their neighborhood.
In this manner, a simple art project created a model whereby even disparate groups could work together to create a beautiful addition to their shared community, and still be free to express their individuality.