Building mural in Renton (Photo credit: Marsha Rollinger)

Building mural in Renton (Photo credit: Marsha Rollinger)

Renton’s art community resilient after turbulent year

Renton Municipal Arts Commission chairwoman says she is thankful for city’s support of artsy.

During a tough pandemic-ridden 2020, Renton Municipal Arts Commission Chairwoman Mary Clymer believes it was the community’s creativity that helped build its resilience.

Clymer said art is part of what can give a community its identity and in many ways makes it whole.

Statues, murals and sculptures can be landmarks that give community members and visitors a sense of place — and Clymer says it is part of what makes places like Renton’s Piazza Park so unique.

“There is art everywhere,” she said. “And these spaces are driven by art.”

Clymer said she feels that Renton is fortunate to have a mayor and city council so supportive of art in the community. Especially after the support the arts community received this year.

Collectively, Clymer said her colleagues in the Renton City Council and on the Renton Municipal Arts Commission made a pact to support art in the community and to get money into the hands of artists and creatives in Renton.

Through a pandemic year in which communities were discouraged from gathering, Clymer, the arts commission and the community worked together to put art supplies in the hands of young artists, sponsor workshops for teaching new skills, and install community art projects like Renton Loop sculpture.

The community adapted and continued to create, perform and innovate.

The Renton Civic Theatre, committed to letting the show go on after COVID-19 restrictions, performed a series of holiday classics over radio broadcast in December in place of a live audience convening before them.

“The resilience of who we are comes from our creativity,” Clymer said.

Clymer said she felt like the 2020 quarantine slowed the world down for a lot of people, and helped them realize what an important asset art can be in our daily lives.

Through a year of pandemic, protest and division, Clymer believes art can bring us together.

She made a point of the contentious Capitol Hill protest zone over the summer, which left the streets and public infrastructure covered in different kinds of art by protesters.

“When we are suffering as humans, as a society,” she said, “art is what we turn to.”

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