Archive for the ‘emergent’ Category

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balm “destination” postcards & baker’s anniversary show

November 15, 2007

Show Opening Friday, Nov. 16th, 5-8 p.m.

Art Affair Gallery, 7th & High St, Baldwin, KS

BALM artists & Baker’s Anniversary Show

Beautiful pieces by area artists in all price ranges for gift giving.   Other featured artists include Karen Jacks, Vernon Brecha, Heather Smith Jones, Darin White, Jane Flanders,  Shannon White, D. S. Dunlap, Sam Wagner, Anh Sawyer…  Continue the conversation we began at the original “destination” original art postcard gathering with us.   Please ask questions, as artists love to talk about their artwork. 

View art postcards from other artists and exhibits online to understand the whimsical history and ideas behind “art as postcard”.  The concept celebrates personal voice, the beauty of handmade gifts, accessible artwork in matters of scale and economy, art as visual communication and thought provoking and what is more fun than the idea that one can theoretically or actually put a stamp on a gift and mail the original expression — no styrofoam peanuts, standing in long lines at the post office, reams of giftwrap, issue with wrong size or repeat gift — simple and thoughtful.   If you are truly inspired, then you can make your own art card as well and send or give yours to a friend.

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Backstory Biography and All That KC Jazz

September 16, 2007

                                               by Shannon White                 

                  

                 Shannon revisiting her familial jazz roots at the KC Museum of 
                 Jazz – Sept 2007

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                   KC Jazz sculpture outside of museum 18th & Vine

    

     High school year book entry for Ralph C Wentz, 
     Shannon’s Grandfather & Jazz Pianist

Two sides of the room sang bebop rhythms back and forth, repeated, then overlapping each other.  The groups waited while vocal and instrumental solos gave their spontaneous variations, then let the chorus respond.  We sang and listened through several sets, awaiting our turn to scat or hear to another soloist.  I reconnnected with my slightly unfamiliar familial jazz roots last June 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at a an Artists Gathering called Via Affirmativa.  Dr. Kyle Gregory, a family man who works as a professional jazz musician in Italy — an amazing jazz musician, teacher and person — gave the multi-disciplinary group of artists brief history of jazz with improvisational performances,  an education on jazz scale construction, rhythm emphasis, and best of all scatting bebop group improvs with instrumental solos.  We were all involved no matter what our artistic background.  It was interactive and exciting, and made me want to try jazz piano or flute for the first time since I started learning in grade school through high school and beyond — I said “try”.  I was also inspired to sketch the trumpeter with the energetic marks traveling up his arched spine, through the bell of his horn, then activating the space around him as I have seen so many other artists do, not to mimic, but because that was simply what I envisioned.  The creative experience in Minneapolis also made me want to discover more about this personal and local history with jazz than I had for my eighth grade speech class on my grandfather and his jazz career years ago. I began to wonder why he chose jazz, what it was like to have his career during his lifetime and later carry it on with a family, how his piano playing was integrated into the American jazz scene altogether and the regional KC scene as well.  This quest involved online research, interviewing my father and thinking about what made jazz spread from America throughout the world as a truly American art form.

               

           Bix Beiderbecke and his gang, which often changed players

Apparently, jazz began in New Orleans at the turn of the twentieth century, as a culmination of African, Spanish, Italian, South American and French cultures.  The blues and marching band style combination with spontaneous music with syncopated “rag time” rhythms traveled up from the seaport town.  The Mississippi River carried African American and Caucasian musicians looking for better futures in Chicago, Illinois, making it the new center for jazz by 1920.   Jazz had always been in my grandfather’s blood.  My grandfather, Ralph C Wentz was born in Ottawa, Illinois, not too far from Chicago in July 7,1909.  He took piano lessons as a child paid for by his grandmother, and took his first piano job playing for silent movies in his father’s silent movie house in Geneseo, Illinois, which is where he grew up.  He then played ragtime in the band his father, Ralph Sr. and Uncle Harry Wentz formed and played in the area.  He studied piano at the Sheridan Institute of Music in Chicago in the early 1930s and then was hired by a piano company in Chicago.  America was in a great period of prosperity at this time, and the country was celebrating with jazz.  No doubt my grandfather was caught up in this progressive American sound and couldn’t resist the proximity or the excitement.  His Uncle Harry was the a pianist for one of the first caucasian jazz bands, Bix Biederbecke , in the quad cities on bordering Illinois and Iowa.  My grandfather ended up filling in for Uncle Harry occasionally at the stool, and ended up playing for Al Capone and at a nunnery, inadvertantly, at one point.  When he realized Capone was actually hiring him, he politely bowed out of these assignments.  I believe an ailing grandmother was mentioned.

                         

                           Where Wentz performed and met his bride-to-be

Chicago hosted the World Fair 1933-34 to showcase an age of progress and technical achievement, while it drew from the past achievements as well.  One of the exhibits at this fair was a jazz pianist playing his newest spontaneous styles of American jazz on a crystal piano turning on a pedestal.  My grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Alleman, visited the world’s fair and began to fall in love with the man playing the piano at the time.  He was to become my grandfather when they would meet again eleven years later in Junction City, KS, where she taught and he was stationed for the war.  He played with many bands during the “big band” or “swing” era in the USO, country clubs and VFW around World War ll, bands like Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, and Les Brown’s Band of Renown in the 1940s.  These bands made records, named after the famous trumpet, clarinet or vocal soloist they featured.    My grandfather moved close to Kansas City along with the jazz migration with a severe stomach ulcer from dealing with snipers and leading raids in the war.  He was sent to a Colorado hospital and then home to Lansing to die with his wife and children, when his ulcer perforated, speeding up the process.  Fortunately, a young country doctor stopped the bleeding with a new procedure and saved his life.  He already had one child by 1949, when my father came along and made two, and there would be two more. 

         

   Tommy Dorsey’s big band, whom my grandfather played with occasionally

KC it was the next big town to be known for “swing” and then “bebop”.  In 1948, my grandfather had his own band in KC and played with other bands as well.  The war draft caused the “big bands” to form these more intimate bebop groups featuring group improvisations, as band members were sent overseas.  He played in the Charlie “Bird” Parker band a little, although my grandfather preferred the rhythm driven and amplified “big band” or “swing” sound to the bebop style.  The music style would travel to New York, but my grandfather moved his family to Leavenworth and stayed in the Midwest.  This was where he remained for the duration of his life.

                                   

                   He played with Charlie “Bird” Parker a few times

My father, a part-time clarinetist, teacher and musician, remembers hearing his father practicing hours into the night after his latest gig.  My grandmother played piano, cello and coronet, and was musical as well.  I remember hearing my grandfather practice or play at dining establishments long after his career was largely over due to failing health.  Around 1948 he had started a piano tuning business, becoming the Piano Tuners’ Guild President in Kansas City in 1952.  During this year, my grandmother was sick with what was initially thought to be leukemia, and grandfather prayed at the chapel each day for her to recover, which she did.  He also appraised property in his small business and continued learning piano at the KC Conservatory of Music, where he shared some classes with Jay McShann. 

My grandmother would “deedle-dee-dee” around their historic house and dance with her finger to jazz on the radio, smiling at bygone memories and enjoying the moment, as she swept the floor after the hungry relatives, dog, two cats.  I was one of the silent grandkids who looked on amusedly, knowing that my grandmother did not like to clean.  After all those years, she still found joy in reliving those moments she spent with my grandfather while participating in the jazz culture firsthand.  She was always a progressive and people-oriented person herself.  Grandpa managed to live as a stable, loving husband and family man, father of four children, and maintain his jazz career through most of his life.  My grandmother always loved him and adored his music while she continued her teaching.

There was one other time I felt especially close to my grandfather after he was gone. As I sat in KC’s famous Jardine’s during a live jazz set with my husband and some friends, I turned my head towards the piano player almost expecting to see Grandpa Wentz sitting at the bench but seeing Joe Cartwright, instead.  His piano playing sounded just like my grandfather’s as I remembered hearing it.  His “bossa nova” La Luna Negra CD is my closest memento to a recording of my grandfather.  I found from my father that my grandfather tutored and mentored Joe Cartwright, a contemporary KC jazz legend, when he was young in a time when many parents discouraged their children from learning the jazz style over the classical styles.  At least one of my grandfather’s later students worked in lessons with my grandfather against the better judgement of their parents.  Maybe the newness, ethnic diversity, and working class roots of the music instilled fear in some people, as many creative, progressive movements do, that it would somehow make them less respectable or taint their morals merely by association.  Another student of my grandfather’s who is still playing the jazz circuit successfully all over the world is Gary Foster, who my grandfather introduced to his Leavenworth jazz trio, after gaining permission from his Gary’s parents to include him.  Gary Foster played at the Topeka Jazz Workshop Sunday, September 16th, and I would have liked to attend.  People say the Grandpa Wentz also sounds a lot like Oscar Peterson, one of his contemporaries in Canada.  I will have to give him a listen, now that I am on the jazz trail.

That innovation and collaborative combination of backgrounds which formed jazz are what make it so exciting to perform and listen to still, and are possibly the reason the rest of the world still listens to it, today.  Besides, Thomas More might say that a county’s character is defined by its everyday “rustics”, as they perform tasks, and as they celebrate life.  Jazz may have seen infamous moments, but it inspires me to collaborate with other artists, be a part in the fabric of life in my local community,  to let my art be an extension of my life experiences and past and present surroundings,  to be bold in my creativity,  to celebrate life expressively, to teach my children to always be innovative, to encourage others in their artistic pursuits, to spend more time enjoying the still organic KC jazz scene, to sing while I clean and to share this wonderful short classic cartoon called I LOVE TO SINGA produced by WB Merrie Melodies in 1936.  The film captures the tension between jazz and classical music in its emergence, resistance to new underground styles and a little human nature.  I love the happy ending.

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Compelling Article by Dana Gioia, Chairman for NEA, a Wall Street Journal Editorial

August 22, 2007

The Impoverishment of American Culture
And the need for better art education.

BY DANA GIOIA
Thursday, July 19, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDTThere is an experiment I’d love to conduct. I’d like to survey a cross-section of Americans and ask them how many active NBA players, Major League Baseball players, and “American Idol” finalists they can name. Then I’d ask them how many living American poets, playwrights, painters, sculptors, architects, classical musicians, conductors and composers they can name. I’d even like to ask how many living American scientists or social thinkers they can name.
Fifty years ago, I suspect that along with Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Sandy Koufax, most Americans could have named, at the very least, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Arthur Miller, Thornton Wilder, Georgia O’Keeffe, Leonard Bernstein, Leontyne Price and Frank Lloyd Wright. Not to mention scientists and thinkers like Linus Pauling, Jonas Salk, Rachel Carson, Margaret Mead and especially Dr. Alfred Kinsey.I don’t think that Americans were smarter then, but American culture was. Even the mass media placed a greater emphasis on presenting a broad range of human achievement. I grew up mostly among immigrants, many of whom never learned to speak English. But at night watching TV variety programs like the Ed Sullivan Show, I saw–along with comedians, popular singers and movie stars–classical musicians like Jascha Heifetz and Arthur Rubinstein, opera singers like Robert Merrill and Anna Moffo, and jazz greats like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong captivate an audience of millions with their art.

The same was true of literature. I first encountered Robert Frost, John Steinbeck, Lillian Hellman and James Baldwin on general-interest TV shows. All of these people were famous to the average American–because the culture considered them important. Today no working-class kid would encounter that range of arts and ideas in the popular culture. Almost everything in our national culture, even the news, has been reduced to entertainment, or altogether eliminated.

The loss of recognition for artists, thinkers and scientists has impoverished our culture in innumerable ways, but let me mention one. When virtually all of a culture’s celebrated figures are in sports or entertainment, how few possible role models we offer the young. There are so many other ways to lead a successful and meaningful life that are not denominated by money or fame. Adult life begins in a child’s imagination, and we’ve relinquished that imagination to the marketplace.

I have a reccurring nightmare. I am in Rome visiting the Sistine Chapel. I look up at Michelangelo’s incomparable fresco of the “Creation of Man.” I see God stretching out his arm to touch the reclining Adam’s finger. And then I notice in the other hand Adam is holding a Diet Pepsi.When was the last time you have seen a featured guest on David Letterman or Jay Leno who isn’t trying to sell you something? A new movie, a new TV show, a new book or a new vote? Don’t get me wrong. I have a Stanford MBA and spent 15 years in the food industry. I adore my big-screen TV. The productivity and efficiency of the free market is beyond dispute. It has created a society of unprecedented prosperity.

But we must remember that the marketplace does only one thing–it puts a price on everything. The role of culture, however, must go beyond economics. It is not focused on the price of things, but on their value. And, above all, culture should tell us what is beyond price, including what does not belong in the marketplace. A culture should also provide some cogent view of the good life beyond mass accumulation. In this respect, our culture is failing us.

There is only one social force in America potentially large and strong enough to counterbalance this commercialization of cultural values, our educational system. Traditionally, education has been one thing that our nation has agreed cannot be left entirely to the marketplace–but made mandatory and freely available to everyone.

At 56, I am just old enough to remember a time when every public high school in this country had a music program with choir and band, usually a jazz band, too, sometimes even an orchestra. And every high school offered a drama program, sometimes with dance instruction. And there were writing opportunities in the school paper and literary magazine, as well as studio art training.

I am sorry to say that these programs are no longer widely available. This once visionary and democratic system has been almost entirely dismantled by well-meaning but myopic school boards, county commissioners and state officials, with the federal government largely indifferent to the issue. Art became an expendable luxury, and 50 million students have paid the price. Today a child’s access to arts education is largely a function of his or her parents’ income.

In a time of social progress and economic prosperity, why have we experienced this colossal cultural decline? There are several reasons, but I must risk offending many friends and colleagues by saying that surely artists and intellectuals are partly to blame. Most American artists, intellectuals and academics have lost their ability to converse with the rest of society. We have become wonderfully expert in talking to one another, but we have become almost invisible and inaudible in the general culture.

This mutual estrangement has had enormous cultural, social and political consequences. America needs its artists and intellectuals, and they need to re-establish their rightful place in the general culture. If we could reopen the conversation between our best minds and the broader public, the results would not only transform society but also artistic and intellectual life.

There is no better place to start this rapprochement than in arts education. How do we explain to the larger society the benefits of this civic investment when they have been convinced that the purpose of arts education is to produce more artists, which is hardly a compelling argument to the average taxpayer?We need to create a new national consensus. The purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists, though that is a byproduct. The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society.

This is not happening now in American schools. What are we to make of a public education system whose highest goal seems to be producing minimally competent entry-level workers? The situation is a cultural and educational disaster, but it also has huge and alarming economic consequences. If the U.S. is to compete effectively with the rest of the world in the new global marketplace, it is not going to succeed through cheap labor or cheap raw materials, nor even the free flow of capital or a streamlined industrial base. To compete successfully, this country needs creativity, ingenuity and innovation.

It is hard to see those qualities thriving in a nation whose educational system ranks at the bottom of the developed world and has mostly eliminated the arts from the curriculum. Marcus Aurelius believed that the course of wisdom consisted of learning to trade easy pleasures for more complex and challenging ones. I worry about a culture that trades off the challenging pleasures of art for the easy comforts of entertainment. And that is exactly what is happening–not just in the media, but in our schools and civic life.

Entertainment promises us a predictable pleasure–humor, thrills, emotional titillation or even the odd delight of being vicariously terrified. It exploits and manipulates who we are rather than challenging us with a vision of who we might become. A child who spends a month mastering Halo or NBA Live on Xbox has not been awakened and transformed the way that child would be spending the time rehearsing a play or learning to draw.

If you don’t believe me, you should read the studies that are now coming out about American civic participation. Our country is dividing into two distinct behavioral groups. One group spends most of its free time sitting at home as passive consumers of electronic entertainment. Even family communication is breaking down as members increasingly spend their time alone, staring at their individual screens.

The other group also uses and enjoys the new technology, but these individuals balance it with a broader range of activities. They go out–to exercise, play sports, volunteer and do charity work at about three times the level of the first group. By every measure they are vastly more active and socially engaged than the first group.

What is the defining difference between passive and active citizens? Curiously, it isn’t income, geography or even education. It depends on whether or not they read for pleasure and participate in the arts. These cultural activities seem to awaken a heightened sense of individual awareness and social responsibility.

Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing the world–equal to but distinct from scientific and conceptual methods. Art addresses us in the fullness of our being–simultaneously speaking to our intellect, emotions, intuition, imagination, memory and physical senses. There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as stories or songs or images.

Art delights, instructs, consoles. It educates our emotions. And it remembers. As Robert Frost once said about poetry, “It is a way of remembering that which it would impoverish us to forget.” Art awakens, enlarges, refines and restores our humanity.

Mr. Gioia is the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. This article is a condensed version of his June 17 commencement address at Stanford University.

See original article here

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Designs From Life

August 5, 2007

So, as noted in our last post the reason we bailed out on the last gathering was that our amazing son Caden came down with childhood cancer.  Events like this tend to make one rethink everything about life.  I always prefer to play to my strengths rather than weaknesses (maybe this is a weakness?).  After trying to absorb the effects that this was going to have on our family’s life, I thought about if there was anything that I could do about this situation.  Realizing that I was completely and not just completely, but COMPLETELY unable to do anything about neuroblastoma in myself.  It was a not-so-nice-I-think-I-would-like-to-stop-the-world-and-get-off-for-a-while feeling.  So besides praying (which is very worthwhile, and highly recommended) I wanted to do something.  I decided that I would collect the paraphernalia from the events surrounding the cancer that Caden is fighting and produce a sculpture.  Shannon mentioned in the last post that I was working on a sculpture, but I forgot to post a sketch.  This is a rough sketch, but I think it embodies some of the ideas I am trying to address.  I am using the actual items that Caden sees daily, or when in the hospital.  I am basically making a history of the event in this way.  I am going to insert them (aesthetically of course) into clear resin and have them surround the object in the middle, which I am hoping will be the glass encapsulated preserved tumor.  I know, I know this may sound a little bizarre to some.  I think it is more about facing fear, and knowing that whatever we go through, no matter how painful, we can do it.  So ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’?  Maybe that is how life is.  The truth is in how we respond to what we are given, rather than what we are given.  I would love to say I haven’t had any fear in this whole ordeal, but that wouldn’t be true.  I appreciate the prayers of those who are praying, as we can feel them in a real way.  Caden has been wonderful throughout this whole situation.  His attitude is excellent and his smile is infectous.  We are so blessed to have him.  We are taking steps, small ones maybe, but steps to learning how to face our fears, to overcome them and realize that even though we don’t like it, we can learn from them and be better off even than before.

Sculpture Design for Caden   IMG_7676

darin m. white 2007 Copyright

All Rights Reserved

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Art & Life Update

July 28, 2007

Lately, we have been challenged with the juncture of our art and our life.  Our four year old son mr. c was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, which has caused us to rearrange our artistic schedule and look at life with wonder.  This is the cause of our delay in the parabolic b.a.l.m gathering.  If you would like to find out more about his situation, we welcome you to visit his site.  We process each day in the hospital and at home and these unfamiliar and uninvited happenings in expressions of all sorts — words, emotions, prayers, sketches, questions of existence and connectedness.  D is collecting medical paraphenalia to make a sculpture about this ordeal.  He is also involved in helping others produce their work and running our businessS is encouraged in her pursuit of affirming people even in or especially in seemingly hopeless situations through painting and otherwise.  For her, sometimes the art is a life of caring for our son and the family, enjoying the beauty of time together, seeing beauty in others, and other times it is creating a painting.  She is gathering the radiology scans right now, and doing artwork with little C as part of his therapy.  She appreciates clients’ understanding about time frames on portraits she is finishing. 

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We have been affirmed in so many ways from so many people during this passage.  There is beauty to be found in and on the other side of the suffering because of the discoveries it brings.  About life, love and goodness.  While there is not as much time for us to sculpt and paint right now, we are seeing and creating artistically.   We are being formed by these experiences.

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There is so much artwork around the CMH and RMH that has enriched our lives and given us comfort, that we wanted to document and share a few pieces.  Without it our days would seem a little bleaker, like a world without color or variety or hope.  We love the personalities which are expressed and the benefits we have received from them sharing their creativity with us.  We thank Children’s Mercy Hospital for investing and presenting this artwork, as well as the Ronald McDonald house and all of the respective donors.   We are constantly learning about the connections there are between creativity and healing.  Mr. C benefits from music therapy times in CMH and times making crafts of all sorts.  Engaging in creativity seems to comfort, soothe, mirror, occupy, divert, give expression to emotions and draw out hope and life.  It is a productive way of bringing a tangible beauty to raw pain and emotions and engage with others.  We are exploring these parts of artistic expression as well, personally, and with others.  We have also found a couple outlets for artists or people who want to use art for healing.

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We want to connect with all of you and update those of you we have not spoken with personally about this situation.  We plan to have gatherings for artists, still, and want to hear from you about what you are working on, going through, excited about and how that influences your work as well.   Please contact us with ideas or about hosting the next gathering.   We appreciate those of you who linked Mr. C’s website on yours, so that more people will know the situation that he is in. 

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PARABOLIC P ART Y invitation – An evening of artistic discovery

June 23, 2007

Please pass the parabolic art and conversation.  Come explore with us through childlike creativity this graceful, physical and abstract form found all around us.  We plan to play with the themes of art inspired by sound, sight, movement and light.   Bring yourselves, possibly a pertinent work, your creativity, and a bowl of food.  Art lovers are welcome.  We will provide noodles of all sorts to eat and to sculpt.  Contact us for details. 

Parabolic P ART Y invitation AN EVENING OF ARTISTIC DISCOVERY

click image for invite

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Reflections on Works in Progress Gathering

June 3, 2007

WORKS IN PROGESS GATHERING Image 5WORKS IN PROGESS GATHERING Image 6

WORKS IN PROGESS GATHERING Image 7WORKS IN PROGESS GATHERING Image 1 

A group of artists, all works in progress, enjoyed sharing our workmanship with one another over the Cinco de Mayo festivities.  We celebrated our freedom to create and gather together at Jane’s wonderful Lawrence studio over margeritas and delicious Mexican food. 

Then we settled into a critique of works in progress.  The large colorful Japanese inspired paintings belong to Jane.  The artwork inspired deep conversation, as Brad shared of his  recent trip to Hawaii playing music with Jack Johns and worshiping here.  He mentioned how landscape and region inspire style.  Ingrid showed us her spontaneous painting of a local prairie fire at night,  and Jay talked about his stone work and guild, as well as issues of figuration in art. Congratulations to Jay on becoming a fire chief, by the way.  Marc invited us to discuss his revised film script narration on a father and son relationship before his last editing session – what a privilege.  Shannon shared new figurative works in a series of assemblages for dialogue, and a two life portrait panels with text.  There was so much to see and discuss, food for thought.  Darin and Janea declined to share their pieces to make way for others, as we could have talked all night.  We thank all the people who came and contributed to the conversations.  Artists love to talk about their’s and others’ work!  Several artists expressed interest in visiting each others’ studios to talk about life and work one on one on a regular basis.  Let’s keep encouraging each other to create.

We enjoy seeing you all around town and at these gatherings.  A few places we have seen artist friends around town are shown below (Farmer’s Market, Art Togeau Parade, downtown, SEED lectures):

  Art Car Parade 1 Farmers Market Balm Farmers Market Musician 

Art Car Parade 2 downtown art

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