our community of artists

By Shelby R. Farrell


BELVIDERE – In the City of Murals a community of artists is looking for outlets to display their work, and one up-coming organization might provide just that desired means to let out the artistic self-expression.

Lucrecio Gonzalez, a Belvidere resident, has been volunteering and making efforts to improve the community of Belvidere and surrounding areas for over a decade, and in January, he founded a new organization.

Our Community of Artists was created to help artists find the right path in life and as a platform for artists to show off what they can do. Gonzalez said the organization is still in its “infancy,” because he is working on making it a 501(c)(3) organization, which gives it federal tax exemptions on its raises.

In the meantime, Gonzalez is trying to partner Our Community of Artists with the City of Belvidere to re-touch existing murals as well as painting new walls around the city.

“We really want to start in Belvidere and then reach out to surrounding areas,” Gonzalez said. “We need to put the city back on the spot as the City of Murals. Although I love the ones we have, there should be more.”

Juan Silva, a member of Our Community of Artists, said he has always wanted an opportunity to paint a mural, and he would be excited to paint one in Belvidere. They still need permits and money to reach that goal, Gonzalez said.

However, he said the organization mostly wants to connect with the community.

“Our goal is to get back to the people,” he said. “We can work with other non-profit organizations even though we can’t take funds.”

Both Gonzalez and Silva are part of other non-profit organizations that give back to the communities. Silva is part of a car club named Viejipos that adopts highways, picks up trash, and sweeps streets and driveways. Our Community of Artists has also partnered with Viejipos to host car and art shows.

“We’re always out in the community helping people,” Silva said. “It’s not necessarily just the art; we’re just trying to do something to help and searching for outlets to do something constructively.”

Gonzalez said he wants to focus on helping at-risk kids realize that they can use art as an outlet, and they can learn from it.

In the past, he has worked with gang awareness organizations and events, and one of his missions is to help troubled youth find a different channel to follow.

“We need to give them the right resources to follow the right path,” he said. “I used to be shy as a kid. I liked to draw, and even though my drawings weren’t perfect, it made me feel positive and proud to show them off.”

Although they want to focus the organization’s efforts on helping young artists, anyone interested in art, even as an advocate for the arts, is invited to become a member of Our Community of Artists.

“OCA wants to focus on all arts – carving wood, making video games, even building houses,” Silva said. “You can see yourself as a carpenter, but you’re creating something, and its art.”

The members in the organization range from Silva, who is a professional tattoo artist to a man who was a break dancing actor in an ‘80s movie, and Silva said they won’t turn anyone away.

“If you’re heart desires something good you’ll succeed,” he said. “Parents encourage your kids. Don’t think it’s not important, because it could become something greater. Follow your passion.”

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