Germantown Artists Roundtable celebrates new bylaws at Town Hall meeting

 Members of the Germantown Artists Roundtable pose for a group portrait inside the since-closed Town Hall. (Alaina Mabaso/for NewsWorks)

Members of the Germantown Artists Roundtable pose for a group portrait inside the since-closed Town Hall. (Alaina Mabaso/for NewsWorks)

A large crowd of artists and art lovers turned out for June’s Germantown Artists Roundtable meeting, uniquely held in the Town Hall building which was open as part of the Hidden City Festival.

There, attendees learned that the group’s initiative to photograph community groups at the Town Hall — conceived by organizer Paula Paul, it was called “Photographing Germantown’s Human Assets” — had proven successful.

Some 20 groups with missions ranging from health-care advocacy to youth sports to civic development had gathered to pose for volunteer Roundtable photographers before the building closed on Sunday.

Discoveries therein

Two weeks earlier, the Roundtable meeting attendees gathered under a display of the photos. Some noted they hadn’t even known all those activist groups existed until they saw the photos.

“Our community groups hold us together, and we wanted to hold them up,” Paul said at the June 20 meeting.

Those portraits were not the main focus of the meeting, though. Celebrating the group’s now-completed bylaws was.

The project, which spanned several months, established the Roundtable’s first official framework for leadership and membership.

What the new bylaws say

Paul read bylaw excerpts printed on display boards especially for the meeting.

The new rules emphasize the Roundtable’s inclusive nature: A non-partisan group open to Germantown artists, performers, art educators, curators and art lovers and supporters of all stripes, regardless of race, religion, gender, background or experience.

The new rules also promote respectful communication, transparent organizational processes and the idea that “art is very powerful.”

“We need your money and your imagination and your creativity,” Paul said to the group.

Projects and presentations

Fellow organizer Allison Weiss spoke about the Roundtable’s Art Garden which reclaimed the “mass of weeds” that flanked the building’s Haines Street side.

She said she hopes local artists and gardeners would continue efforts outside Town Hall after Hidden City’s residence.

Tomatoes, basil and day lilies have been planted among sculptures and other art pieces. Included in that artwork is a painting by Roundtable member Tere Stidem called “Flower Spirits,” which was done in oils, acrylics and house paint.

“You get visions in them. You see faces,” Stidem said. “I don’t put them in there. They just come.”

Terri Lyons also shared three poems with the group about age, Germantown’s “front porch people” and paying homage to civil rights luminary Rev. Leon Sullivan.

“What would he demand of us with our closing schools and proliferating jails?” she asked in her Sullivan-related poem.

Finally, the whole group posed for photographers Tieshka Smith and Gary Reed, and then toasted the new bylaws.

The Germantown Artists Roundtable meets at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month at the BuildaBridge headquarters, Tulpehocken and Greene streets.

For more information on any of its current initiatives, or to join its mailing list, e-mail gtartistrt@gmail.com.

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