FriendsWithYou in Shreveport

April - December 30, 2019



About Residencies with nationally renowned Artists:

The Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) and Shreveport Common, Inc. are working together to create Shreveport Common - a 9-block revitalization project destined to become the home of the Arts in Northwest Louisiana (NWLA), becoming THE Place that merits the “there there” distinction: the first authentic, creative, walkable, bike-able, “eat-able” (we have 15 food trucks with no place to call “home”) gathering place!


SRAC is building the vibrancy and enthusiasm while continuing grass-roots, expert-led Creative Placemaking planning process, executing the City/County approved Vision Plan, and promising the “soon to come” cool lofts, condos, artists’ live/workspaces, mixed use retail, Makerspace, Greenspace, and splendidly restored architectural treasures. The Key to sustaining anticipation is producing UNprecedented programming that starts with Residencies with nationally renowned artists (Nick Cave, Wayne White, Steve Olsen, New Orleans AirLift, Theresa Anderssen, Dennis McNett, Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians…) who collaborate with a team of selected NWLA Artists and the residents of the Social Service Organizations (SSO) to create a new work that debuts in Shreveport Common via an “UNSCENE! Happening.”


The goal of the new work is to shed light on a formerly “unseen” characteristic of Shreveport Common and, when completed, leave an indelible mark that illumines the people, places and historic events of Shreveport Common. Nick Cave’s one-year residency to create “AS IS” a production telling the stories of the 300 disenfranchised SSO neighbors, resonates a year later as we create public artworks using the beaded blankets and spirit sticks created with the community.




SRAC and the City of Shreveport with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and a cadre of other donors will bring Arturo Sandoval III and Samuel Borkson, Artistic Directors of the FriendsWithYou Art Collective, to create and oversee a series of projects throughout the 2019 year. Arturo and Samuel, working collectively since 2002, have a mission to spread the positive message of Magic, Luck, and Friendship.


The Artists work in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, large-scale experiential installations, live performances, virtual reality and animation.  Their reductive and simplified use of geometric abstraction always contains a whimsical touch. Alongside the body of works of Murakami, Jeff Koons, and Damien Hirst, FriendsWithYou is a new breed of artist, actively generating culture beyond the traditional art boundaries and reshaping the current contemporary art scene.


Many FriendsWithYou works reference toys because they are meant for play, a tool for unstructured free association and interaction.

Arturo and Samuel are known for immersive installations and interactive artworks, inviting viewers of their work to reconnect with and reinterpret their lives through communal experiences…and that is just what the Shreveport Common UNcommon - communal - community needs:  Magic, Luck and Friendship. 



The Primary beneficiaries are current residents in Shreveport Common SSO Housing who need to “get out” and engage creative opportunities without fear of rejection or displacement.  Each SSO houses a disenfranchised group: Providence House serves abandoned spouses with children and no employment skills; Mercy Center serves people who are HIV Positive/Aid; McAdoo serves people who have mental, cognitive, & physical disabilities; Lighthouse serves at-risk youth; VOA serves Senior Adults who need “day” care; Fairmont serves people with voucher assisted living. 


The next set of beneficiaries are the potential residents:  Artists, Millennials, DINKS (Double Income/No Kids), and active Seniors.  The programs featured in this FriendsWithYou engagement ae intended to generate unity, respect, and acceptance for all people.


Elements of the FriendsWithYou Experience: The year-long project with FriendsWithYou is directed through a collaboration with Arturo, Samuel, and Academy Award Winning Animation Director, William Joyce - the pro bono Artistic Director for artspace.


1.    The RAINBOW CITY Inflatable Sculpture Installation will form the backbone of the experience.  It will be installed during a six-week period in The Common, the 2.5 acre greenspace in the heart of Shreveport Common.  The installation will be designed by FriendsWithYou and Joyce, and installed by SRAC's Production Director, Josh Porter and the Rainbow City Team.  Rainbow City is comprised of 35-40 inflated simple but colorful characters, soaring, vibrant zany shapes -- all completely interactive for a dynamic public experience. The installation will be open daily for six weeks during which time school students, afterschool program groups, churches, daycare centers, book clubs, college art departments, and “everyone” within a 200 mile radius will tour and engage the experience and dynamic daily programming.


2.    FriendsWithYou will exhibit their first-ever “retrospective” of their 17 years as an Artists Collective, at artspace, October 25 - December 20. This exhibition will include their sketches, macquettes, digital designs, films and NETFLIX show, True and the Rainbow Kingdom.


3.    SRAC will place Northwest Louisiana Artists as Artists in Residence for six weeks with the Residents of PROVIDENCE HOUSE, MERCY CENTER, McADOO CENTER, VOA LIGHTHOUSE and the VOA VISIONS Program for Senior Citizens…all Shreveport Common Social Service Organizations (SSO).  These Artists will engage the residents in preparing to participate as “docents, hosts, and workers” in the RAINBOW CITY Installation.  


4.     SRAC and the City will launch the opening of Rainbow City with a 9 block RAINBOW CITY PARADE featuring Rainbow City Krewes created by 10 area Professional Artists. Each Krewe will be assigned a color (plus white) and a shape and the Artist/Captain will leading “making sessions” to create as many marching instruments - some that are noisemakers - as possible to create a vibrant parade. The goal is that all Shreveport Commoners march together in the parade and “land” in Rainbow City for the Opening Celebration, Saturday, October 26, 2019.  


5.    SRAC  will commission Artists to animate/program RAINBOW CITY on a daily basis with the following activities:

A.      DAILY SCHOOL TOURS with STEAM Hands-On Learning Activities for students in Grades 3 - 8.

B.      AFTERNOON GROUP TOURS for clubs, afterschool programs, day care centers, etc.

C.   FRIDAY Night “Ditch the Kids/Bring your Friends” Dancing in the Park featuring a variety of DJ’s who will spin based on a variety of themes from “Dia de los Muertos,” to 80’s Disco, to “Friends in Low Places.”

D.      SATURDAY STEAM HANDS-ON LEARNING for Children and Families; Birthday Parties, etc.

E.       SATURDAY CREATIVE EXERCISE programs - incorporating the performing arts into the exercise. A variety of sessions will be offered hourly Saturdays from 7:00 am - 12:00 noon.

F.       SUNDAY in the Park with…Artists!  Each Sunday features a different Artist or Arts Organization or Arts Company providing a 45 minute interpretative performance (or presentation such as Spoken Word, Storytelling, or Literary Reading) based on a reaction/response to RAINBOW CITY. 

G.       And…you tell us!  What do you see “happening” in RAINBOW CITY that you want to create?