Saturday, July 26, 2008
Duke's Nasher Museum event at Goldenbelt July 30, 2008
When Scientific Properties (SP) broke ground on Goldenbelt in 2006, I had to find something new to dream about. I’ve been dreaming the same dreams as SP President Andy Rothschild ever since I heard him speak at the Downtown Durham Inc. (DDI) Annual Meeting in 2005. To paraphrase Andy, “We can all get excited about the development in Downtown Durham, but the true excitement lies in the diversity and quality of the people.” That’s the vision that has come to fruition at Goldenbelt, and it’s a dream come true.
I was on the waiting list for one of the 15 Artist Studios long before they were all sold. Due to a turn of events in my own life, I had to abandon my slot for the opportunity to apply for MBA programs in Australia, but within the core of my being I long to be a part of this amazing development. It stands for everything I believe in: Creative potential, Community redevelopment, Integrated Entrepreneurship, and promoting Downtown.
The history of the site encapsulates the story of Durham’s own history. At the height of its heyday Goldenbelt was the largest Black-owned textile manufacturing company in the world. That history empowers all who are determined to rise above insurmountable odds and achieve legendary success. For aspiring artists it is a welcome beacon of hope. For aspiring business owners it is an ideal location with incentives and opportunity.
I jog past the building in the mornings, constantly surveying the daily changes as it nears completion. I remember donning my rollerblades on an earlier territorial exploration, skating into the Artist Studio warehouse prior to the arrival of white walls and central air ducts. I was moved to sing as I skated through the harrowed ground of so many positive art events to come. I felt charged by relentless creative energy and the feeling of fast-moving freedom akin to flying with the wind on eight wheels.
Now that we are nearing the opening event of July 30th, I remember another inaugural event to christen the space when Scientific Properties held an open mic poetry jam. The mix of people, as Andy prefaced years before in his DDI speech, were the true inspiration to fill the walls with the right formula for community and creativity. All this would be enough to fuel anyone’s anticipation, but when the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University is brought into the mix, it creates a dream team worthy of Olympic Gold.
As the wildly successful Street Level exhibition and lately that of Barkley Hendricks come to a close at the Nasher, it is plain that Goldenbelt is not alone in its vision of integrated programming. As a Duke alumnus and Visual Art Major, the creation of the Nasher was my primary beacon of Durham’s positive future in the arts. I fancy myself as a bridge between Duke and Durham through the arts, and the Nasher has given me a standing monument to explain to people what that looks like at its best.
To bring both the Nasher and Goldenbelt together in one event, forget dreaming: I feel like I have died and gone to heaven! As soon as I saw this event posted on Facebook, I RSVP’d immediately. The Nasher is making bold steps with the marketing genius of Wendy Hower Livingston, Amy Weaver of the Young Friends of the Nasher, and the endless support of brilliant staff like Trevor Schoonmaker and top rate leadership provided by Kim Rorschach. With events like July 30th, Duke and Durham are evolving together, creating a cultural commodity strong enough to be a viable global export.
The old textile mills and tobacco warehouses previously stored Durham’s global exports of hosiery and cigarettes, “Renowned the World Around”. Now those same structures are dwellings for Durham’s people, our new global export to share in a sustainable global economy of intellectual capital and the carbon freedom of mixed use development.