Rachel Wacker (a.k.a. Dolan Cyr) graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame in 1999 with a B. A. in studio art and a concentration in philosophy and literature. Rachel now resides in the Lowertown Arts District where she is a full time artist, community art event designer, and emerging curator. She is an active member of the Saint Paul Art Collective, a coordinator for the Lowertown First Fridays Committee and the resident curator for 262 Studios’ public galleries.
Photos of the JAX Wake from Lowertown photographer Glen Jones.
I found my place in Lowertown a dozen years ago. I found a place where my art and ideas and expressions were supported and appreciated, and this allowed me to feel known and understood in a way I have never been before. Even those closest to me got to know me better through my art, because I’m not the best at words and therefore painting is my best form of communication. I found a place where people take the time to ask curious questions, and who really listen, even if they don’t fully agree with everything I’m saying. Open-mindedness, that’s the word. Inclusiveness. Support.
Two weeks ago I participated in my 33rd consecutive and final St Paul Art Crawl in Jax studio 306. Now, all of the artists have vacated the premises. It will be gutted and turned into upscale lofts as will the 262 Building across the street. I’m grateful for the 16 years I got to spend in that studio, the artist community I was able to be part of and the conversations I had with the homeless of Lowertown. My life is richer for it. Oh how I loved standing in the big north windows looking into the alley, but the view has changed.
All because our view included the JAX – all of your faces – your art – your hearts – your inspiration – your courage and spirit! Just by existing in the space around us and holding tight and fast to a passion for art and for humanity, you have made this community thrive for all – all of the artists here and for all of the people who visit and love what we create. Seeing the JAX artists go is devastating to me. Seeing this view change is heartbreaking and it puts a cloud over the future.
Photography has always been important to Vaughan, particularly the potential for a good image to lift the human spirit. Landscapes and flowers are particularly good for uplifting the psyche and calming the soul in this way… think of it as ‘umami for the eyes’.