RIVERVIEW — Combine the traits of Winthrop Town Centre's traditional neighborhood development with the panache of New York City, and you end up with an intriguing mix.
Katharine Sullivan-Dawes and Bryant Martinez jokingly bounce between, "New Winthrop" and "South Brooklyn" when describing their new collaborative effort. But officially, it's Winthrop Arts Inc., and the two promise to add a rising infusion of arts to the continuing growth of the retail/residential development on the corner of Providence Road and Bloomingdale Avenue.
In fact, the long-term goal involves the various arts programs extending to the broader community and making Winthrop and its annual arts festival a known quantity throughout the state and a destination for artists from outside of the area.
Big dreams for sure, but as Sullivan-Dawes says, "Why be anything less than fabulous?"
Martinez has long held such a vision, serving as Winthrop's resident artist, developing the arts festival and creating an arts factory that gives lessons to kids.
Now Sullivan-Dawes, daughter of Winthrop founders John and Kay Sullivan, will join in to lend added energy. The New York resident, a graduate of Blake High's Performing Arts School, holds a theatre degree from New York University and a graduate degree in theater production and management from Columbia University.
She will continue to live in NYC while dropping in at least once a month to collaborate with Martinez.
With Martinez focusing on visual arts and Sullivan-Dawes adding her emphasis on performing arts, both see the partnership as a natural fit.
"It helps us capture the whole spectrum of art," Martinez said. "Katharine is absolutely wonderful to work with.
"Her experiences and connections in New York are going to prove invaluable for us."
The first efforts of the new partnership will go on display with the annual Christmas Tree Lighting tonight from 6:30 to 7 p.m. (followed by a screening of The Muppet Christmas Carol) and a Y-Art Sale on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Winthrop Pole Barn.
The Christmas tree lighting will include performances by students from the Winthrop Charter School, Brandon Ballet, Judy's Dance Academy, Progress Village Middle Magnet for the Performing Arts and the Academy of Dance Dynamics.
The Y-Art Sale will involve unique holiday gifts, original art works, home goods and a chance for visitors to craft their own ornaments.
Beyond this weekend, the vision includes a new building on the property that will include a place for the burgeoning arts factory and an artisan market that would sell supplies. The organization has scheduled a launch party for Jan. 23 at the Winthrop Barn Theatre that will feature all of the arts, including live music, dance and the visual arts.
While the area certainly includes other art-driven efforts, we can't have enough. And I love the drive to develop new artists at the factory.
"I read somewhere that communities are judged by the arts that they create," Martinez said. "I think we're a community that can and will create amazing art."
For me, the son of an art professor, I'm thrilled about the progress Winthrop Arts continues to make. It's a treasure to not only witness inspiring works and watch moving performances, but it gives each person a chance to engage with others who love the arts.
If all goes as planned, we not only will be able to learn of a local artist's inspiration, but each of us will get a chance to share our interpretations.
That can't help but allow us to grow closer as a community.
That's all I'm saying.