Saturday, December 15, 2018

We Are Awarded The Grant from California Arts Council!

Press Release
 Contact: Olga Vlasova (310) 710 - 7845
Date: December 15, 2018

Artward Initiative Awarded California Arts Council "Cultural Pathways" Grant

State funds support arts programs rooted in communities of color, recent immigrant and refugee communities, or tribal groups

[Carson, CA] – The California Arts Council announced its plans to award $8,400 to Artward Initiative as part of its Cultural Pathways program.

The Cultural Pathways program is rooted in the California Arts Council’s commitment to serving the needs of an increasingly demographically complex California, and the belief that a healthy arts ecosystem reflects contributions from all of California’s diverse populations. The program provides two years of operating support and a host of technical assistance and professional development activities to small, new and emerging organizations rooted in communities of color, recent immigrant and refugee communities, and tribal or indigenous groups.


Artward Initiative supports culturally engaged projects, public art and social interaction programs in underserved communities of color that promote cultural diversity and change the perception of the community through art. Our goal is to focus on art and culture as tool of community turn-around. Our projects include organizing and promotion of free and low cost classical music concerts that reach out to people of all backgrounds to ensure classical music is accessible to all. We conduct "Love My Neighbor" free public art projects in the disadvantaged communities in the City of Carson and established a non-profit "Artward! Gallery at "Scottsdale" neighborhood. We provide free art consultation and education to youth at risk as part of our art outreach and Gang Diversion program. We provide local minority groups with free art education programs.

"With the critical support of CAC Pathway grant Artward Initiative will be able to substantially advance the organizational capacity for our Love My Neighbor project. We now will be able to expand our programing by deeper engaging our program partners. We will be able to bring our program to new audiences in need and to bring new participants into our program. We will substantially increas our ability to provide the program and critical reliability of our planing by the ability to hire additional staff," said Artward Initiative President Olga Vlasova.

Artward Initiative is one of 56 grantees chosen for the Cultural Pathways program. The award was featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council.

"California’s cultural diversity is its greatest creative asset," said Nashormeh Lindo, California Arts Council Chair. "We are proud to support the work of Artward Initiative in celebration of that unique and cherished identity."

To view a complete listing of all Cultural Pathways grantees, visit

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Artward Initiative is formed to strengthen Southern California local communities through its charitable cultural activities. Our goal is to provide the economically disadvantage people and indigents in the local communities with improvement of professional skills and other educational resources they may need. Our events and projects are centered around community development and revitalization, enhance community's quality of life through art, cultural and educational projects. We support projects, public art and social action programs in underserved communities of color that promote cultural diversity and encourage greater understanding among different cultures including community beautification, civic leadership, citizen education as well as arts education initiatives that contribute to the positive development of young people and young people at risk. We support public art and social action programs that reflect our goals and focus on art as a tool of community turn-around.

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California's diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Vice Chair Larry Baza, Phoebe Beasley, Christopher Coppola, Juan Devis, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Donn K. Harris, Louise McGuinness, Steven Oliver, and Rosalind Wyman. Learn more at

Monday, December 3, 2018

LOVE MY NEIGHBOR Goes International!

Love My Neighbor has officially marked its place in the international cultural map as it took part in the Artists for the World 2018 Omai Goodness Tour 7th International Convention “Puerto Rico” – a high profile international art conference in support of Puerto Rico recovery effort that was held in November 5-12, 2018.


Alexey Steele was invited along with representative of the City of Carson Idris Al-Oboudi to participate in The World 2018 Omai Goodness Tour 7th International Convention "Puerto Rico" as part of the group of international artists and activists representing 27 countries. Alexey and Idris shared their Carson experience and knowledge on using art as social action and as a tool of community turn around with the “Love My Neighbor” public art project. 


Alexey Steele’s Carson public art project theme and tittle “Love My Neighbor” was selected as the theme and title of the joint mural that was completed by a group of leading international mural painters participating in the conference to show solidarity by the international art community with the heroic effort of Puerto Rico people overcoming the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  The joint “Love My Neighbor” mural was completed and presented during the conference in the hard hit by the disaster rural Cayey province of Puerto Rico. Alexey Steele had designed the central section of the mural and directed its execution.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Works From Love My Neighbor Public Art Progect On Vew At Natural History Museum of LA County

My three works from  
LOVE MY NEIGHBOR Public Art Project  
are in the  
California Art Club 
The Natural History Museum
of Los Angeles County 

June 10 - July 1, 2018

"El Rey Trabajador. Love My Neighbor public at project, The City of Carson"
72" x 48" oil on canvas
Executed with grants from The City of Carson, Wells Fargo Bank and Rand Resources LLC.

The focus of my ongoing public art project "Love My Neighbor" in the City of Carson for the last two years is the notorious, chronically underserved "Scottsdale" neighborhood.  Following my concept that special neighbors exist in every condition, I was fortunate to find a remarkable and inspiring character in Cirilo Campos, a beloved 75 year old "Scottsdale" gardener.
Cirilo's noble values, the dignity and pride of his hard work stand in stark contrast to a morally bankrupt "greed is good" creed that is shoved at us from every corner and which has torn the very fabric of our society.

"Mrs. O'Neal. Love My Neighbor public at project, The City of Carson"
29" X 22" Sepia on Paper
Executed with the grants from The City of Carson and Rand Resources LLC.

There is a lot of adversity to overcome in today's world. For me, the answer to many difficult questions that we are presented with daily is in the simple principle "Love My Neighbor". Loving one's neighbor is the foundational building block in the moral fiber of our society. I make my case with my ongoing "My Neighbors Series", a collection of portrayals of the people around me in our City of Carson one of the statistically most diverse in the nation.
As one of Carson's founders, Mary Anne O'Neal, is a true icon of the Carson community.  A great-granddaughter of slaves who grew up on a farm in Arkansas, this 91-year-young woman leads her life by example. In a world of "it's all about me," she believes in today's "unfashionable" notions such as serving others before oneself and helping a neighbor in need.
"Mr. Lipsey. Love My Neighbor public at project, The City of Carson"
29" X 22" Sepia on Paper
Executed with the grants from The City of Carson, Bank of America and Rand Resources LLC.
Mr. Lipsey is one of the longest continuous residents of "Scottsdale" Carson.  Some old timers call him "The Seed and The Root".  He is a big man of not many words. 

Mr. Lipsey is from Mississippi.  He is 77.  When he was just 6 years old his Dad went to get food for him on a pouring rain, got drenched and died of double pneumonia.  As Mr. Lipsey puts it in 1947 Mississippi "antibiotics were too good for blacks".  I asked him if he remembers segregation.  He sure does.  The bathrooms at bus stops.  The movie theaters.  When him and his friends went to the movies, they'd sit in their section on a balcony.  Some white kids would go in a section above them and urinate on them.  And spit.  And throw trash.  He remembers Emmett Till's body pulled out of Tallahatchie River.
Remarkable in his observations, he told me at the middle of last session as I begun to develop the drawing: "It's the first time I am seeing real me".

For the first time in its 50 year history The City of Carson was acknowledged at the national level cultural institution.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Launching Love My Neighbor® Day "Scottdsale" With Bank of America and Victory Outreach

Enormously excited about the new great initiative and collaboration that we launched centered on my public art project in Carson’s tough “Scottsdale” neighborhood.  We started the Love My Neighbor Day as celebration of community in a unique personal collaboration with Bank of America.  

Our Scottsdale’s Love My Neighbor Day in collaboration with Victory Outreach, our Artward! Initiative and Bank of America’s Better Money Habits went better than all our expectations. 

Knowing full well how difficult it is to get any attention in Scottsdale and how even more difficult to turn it into a participation - makes what we did even more meaningful.

We had 20 to 25 kids participating in the art program.  Huge number for Scottsdale.  That included some tough and trouble kids.  It was difficult but we did it as even the hardest to get attention kids ended up getting engaged in art making.

While kids were doing art the group their parents had a unique chance to participated in the Better Money Habits with Bank of America specialists.  This group of residents took advantage of a unique opportunity to get an in-depth personal financial advise from some of BoA’s top regional and local execs.  5 executives worked with residents individually.

Huge kudos go to Victory Outreach for their work on the ground to build trust and communication with residents and kids and manage attendance while Artward and BoA provided unique additional programs.  Just as we believed, this proved to be a powerful and effective collaboration worth every bit of long hard work that went into it.

The most amazing part of BoA collaboration is that their participants are companies’ veterans of outreach, passionate about the local community and diversity, some having a multi-decade Carson experience.  They knew full well what Scottsdale is. 

This unique program left deep impression in “Scottsdale” and making serious impact.  The influence of local Piru gang on kids and residents has now a unique alternative.

Scottsdale knows it’s a new age there and that it turns the corner.

Thank you, BoA for showing what it is to engage in real community. 

Together we create impact.  It works.  Art is Power.