Wednesday, August 20, 2008


So, one of favorite places to go and visit is The Learning Community Charter School in Central Falls, RI. The school is grades k-5 and is housed in a former assisted living facility. . . before I ramble on and on with my effusive praise of this place, you should check out this succession of photos. That series of photos sums up how exciting the Learning Community is. Make sure you start at the begining with the "Leadership Makes a Playground" set. So cool. . .
I have a friend, Sarah, who works there, and this past week she ran a training on how to use the new Imaginarium{this is the name of their new playground of awesomeness}. As she was preparing, she talked excitedly about the potential learning that is offered by recess: Time away from structured learning, time to interact with each other away from adult instruction, a complex and varied environment to explore. Going from a mentality of structure and instruction to one of exploration and self definition is risky business, but is so important for life long learning. Obviously all of this is not as simple as I make out to be in this short post, but I look forward to the coming year and seeing how the kids and faculty learn to use this beautiful new resource.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What I did this Summer.

Hello hello. . .

My name is Andrew.

Just the other day a student, someone who I have not seen since the school year ended, dropped by the studio. I asked how he was feeling, what he had been up to, you know, the usual pleasantries. Then I asked what brought him into the studio, and he said he was there to silk screen some new shirts for the beginning of the upcoming school year. Hearing his statement I had a realization: despite the equinox lying two months ahead of us, SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER!!! Or at least it feels like it is, if your ignore August's mugginess.

I am one of the Arts Mentoring Fellows at New Urban Arts. This is a relatively new position at the studio. . . and you are going to be hearing a lot from me this next year.There are two of us embarking on our second year of this two fellowship, Me and Peter Hocking. We have a couple different responsibilities at the studio: the primary one being to support the mentors during their year at NUA. Another responisibility is reflecting on and documenting what goes on around the studio, and this blog is going to be a part of that. As I was gearing up to be a regular blogger at I was thinking about how to introduce myself. Based on my recent studio encounter I decided to write a "How I Spent my Summer" essay of sorts.

So, what has been going on in Andrew Oesch's world this summer?

Gardening - I garden in the Manton Ave. Community Garden in Olneyville. This is my third year there, and this summer has been a good one for the garden. My gardening style tends to be a little loose: everything planted too close together, cucumber vines crawling all over the plot, lots of volunteer tomato plants popping up. The garden is a really important place. A place to get dirty, talk with other gardeners, watch the slow growth of the plants, try new plants out each year, and a good spot to sit down for an afternoon nibble.

Bike Rides - Yea. . . I ride my bike, I wouldn't say a lot, but I love to do it. YAY! Bikes! I spent a portion of June riding back and forth in the parking lot outside my house attempting to learn how to do a wheelie, then I broke a part of my bike.

Time touring with the What Cheer? Brigade on the west coast -

Here we are, our last night of tour, under some bridge in Seatlle, there is a giant concrete troll in the background, what you can't see are the police politely waiting down the street, the time is 10:27 pm, 3 minutes before we would fall into noise violation, we stop two minutes later, magical. . .
I play in an eighteen piece brass street band. We're called the What Cheer? Brigade. Touring in a band is a peculiar experience. We flew to LA and rented two 15 person vans{just enough space for instruments and 18 people} and made the drive up to Seattle over the next eleven days. I still struggle with how to encapsulate this sort of travel. . . How to describe the inertia, the sense of traveling and yet kinda not seeing anything, the explosive energy of performing for strangers both engaged and disinterested, the joy of being part of a musical community, seeing old friends in far away places. . . There was a lot.

Some of the sites seen on my musical travels, which you can visit on the web:

Tour gave me the opportunity to visit two of the 826 National programs: 826 Valencia and 826 LA. These are literacy tutoring programs that were founded by author and McSweeney's publisher Dave Eggers. Each site has a writing workshop and a store. The Store in San Fransisco sold pirate supplies, while as the storefront in LA was a "time travel supply" shop. In addition to the various curiosities that these stores offer, there are beautiful, beautiful books of youth writing. Standing in front of the bookshelf, holding both hand-made products and professionally printed objects of these young authors, I was elated and inspired.

Also in LA I got to visit a couple of friends at Site LA. My friend Adam has been a consultant for the various residents and helped in the organizing some of the programming. One of the current residents, Sarah, is a friend formerly of Providence!

I was one of the lucky band members who got to tag on some extra travel after Seattle by driving the vans back to LA, which meant I got to visit a near and dear friend who works at Homeboy Industries. Homeboys is one of those places you walk in and immediately feel the energy, I mean. . . I guess that happens everywhere, but the foyer of Homeboy Industries new building is overflowing with people, and pouring out of this endless flow is a feeling of family. Homeboy Industries provides a diverse range of social services for former gang members from tattoo removal to job placement and on site job training at a delicious bakery and cafe. . . So delicious, if you are ever in LA, go eat there.

Also just down the street from Homeboys was this place - Farm Lab, where I got to catch one of their Friday salons.

There were many other mini-stops and delights, and the perfect amount of friends new and old.

The Summer Art Inquiry at New Urban Arts. . .

Since this post is becoming longer and longer I think I am gonna hold off on this part of my summer for right now. It deserves a dedicated post of its own, so here's a sneak peek of what is to come on this bloggy blog. . .

Mail Art and Correspondence, or being reminded of how hard it is to be a mentor and other tales of the Summer Art inquiry, including postcards to Beyoncé, sock puppets, and the student who tried to mail themselves in a large cardboard box!

and. . .

Thoughts about the last year spent as an Arts Mentoring Fellow, and sappy hopes and wishes for the upcoming one. Tentative title: Flailing Arms of Confusion and Excitement.

Here's David with his new shirt for school -

And here's why each and every day at New Urban Arts is great -

Finding a melted orange crayon in the window!


Wednesday, August 06, 2008