Founder of SCRAP (Scroungers Center for Re-Usable Art Parts) San Francisco,CA
Thursday, March 28, 2013
The idea came to us to interview Ann Marie one day while we were at SCRAP. As we touched base with her about our latest endeavor, Juana’s Voice, Elizabeth and I looked at each other and simultaneously thought ‘We need to interview Ann Marie’! We were lucky, she agreed to the interview and here we are.
What is SCRAP? It is a re-use center in San Francisco. An amazing warehouse filled with fabric, paper, ribbon, wood, tile, nuts and screws and nails and paint and a million other things to create with. I love this place. Actually, I might be addicted to it. I walk around and can see all of the things that I will make with all of the strange and varied supplies. It is a huge resource in the city. So let’s meet the woman whose vision started it.
Originally from France and growing up during WW II Ann Marie learned that in times of need there is often a simple solution. Her father worked for the French government and after realizing he and his family could be in trouble, they headed south toward Spain. They drove part of the way then had to abandon their truck for bicycles and eventually had to walk and hike over the Pyrenees. They survived in a cave for seven months. Ann Marie says that the cave was really a very good lodging place. I just love this kind of attitude! When the family decided it was time to return to France it took six months to get home.
In 1957, Ann Marie married and relocated to San Francisco and the rest, as they say, is history.
Ann Marie was trained in public service in France and from volunteering at her daughters school to starting a volunteer art program there, she went on to become an important figure in arts and education in the city of San Francisco.
Ann Marie worked for 17 years with the SF Arts Commission acting as director of the Neighborhood Arts Program. During this period of time she was in charge of several large programs. CETA, the Comprehensive Employment Training Act, a gardening program with 85 gardens, called SLUG, a mural project that lasted ten years and SCRAP.
A lesson I can only assume she learned as a young girl; Necessity breeds invention. During her work with the SF Arts Commission Ann Marie had trouble placing artists in schools. In order to get schools to accept the artists, the art teachers had to come into the classroom with their own art supplies. There was a need and so SCRAP was born.
I asked Ann Marie: What makes you happy in this work? She said that success stories of artists make her happy. She also told me that helping people to go much further than they think they can is her mission.
Thank you Ann Marie for having the passion and providing a place for teachers, for artists, for DIYers. You have helped more than a generation of us!
SCRAP is located at 801 Toland Street San Francisco, CA 94121
Celina is 16 years old and she is currently building a tiny house. She and her father Walter live on Whidbey Island, WA in an art filled home. They teach partner dancing and both believe that holding ones body open for dancing is the same as holding oneself open to life. They have so many wonderful stories to tell, like traveling for 3 months in Europe for less money than it would take to live on Whidbey Island and the story of the storm that brought a shipwreck and a man of wisdom to their home.
Walter has a cool project going on as well: http://everyonecandance.com/56_Airfloat.html
We never did get to hear the end of the shipwreck story. I guess we will have to make another trip to Whidbey Island! It really is a magical place.
After two whirlwind meetings with Lena, I walked away feeling like I had just met a walking, breathing 3D women’s encyclopedia! Not a typical encyclopedia but one that was written by a woman who had experienced everything that she had written about. Of course, there were some things she could not have directly experienced. For instance, in her project ‘Women Denied’ she gives a different perspective to women like Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, La Malinche and Coatlique. Her passion for these women took me back to their time in history. I stood in the convent with Juana Inez and watched her fade away after losing the battle to continue to be free, to read, write and study. I watched La Malinche as she stood confident next to Hernan Cortes and Coatlique who all at once was mother earth and a monster. All of these women, portrayed as good and evil; all maligned. Lena stood up for them and now I am standing up for them too.
She filled my brain with more stimulating information about art, spirituality, history, social justice, culture and critical thinking in 6 hours than my many years of college courses. I walked away feeling like I needed more. I want to enroll in her life. I want to live in her colorful house and listen to her stories forever… or at least until she kicks me out.
We have a tentative plan to meet up again in Mexico City. I am certain that that experience will be another awe inspiring gift.
If you would like to know more about Lena’s project that works with Mexican women check out: http://mariposassanmiguel.com AND for her thought provoking creative endeavors: http://www.lenabartula.com/home.html
When we want to be inspired and rejuvenated we go where most people go, the beach, the mountains, the desert. When we want to walk among creatives; people who are living lives of giving and artistic expression we head to a place of magic; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Our trip was very last minute and we knew we couldn’t go to Mexico without trying to find a woman to interview for our Juana project. We sent out the word to our contacts and waited for replies. We were tentatively scheduled to meet a woman who lives out in the country alone. She tends sheep and has no electricity; a great voice for independence. There was another woman who helped found a thriving organic movement. She travels around Mexico looking for farmers who want to learn to farm organically. And another who is a healer and was getting ready to live alone under a tree in the wilderness for two weeks. This seemed like a pretty good line-up to dive into during our ten day visit. Unfortunately it was not possible to meet all these women during such a short stay and we were on “Mexican Time” after all.
Meetings were scheduled and then rescheduled and we were starting to feel the stress of the possibility of not having someone to interview. Through the chaos we realized that we wanted things to happen naturally, that we wanted to be gently lead. If we left Mexico without an interview, well, that would have to be o.k.
That’s when we met Anado McLauchlin, a San MIguel artist (http://elizabethrosasjewelry.blogspot.com/). We told him him what we were up to and he enthusiastically said “you HAVE to meet Lena Bartula”! With a little hesitation she agreed to meet with us the very next day and the rest is pretty much awe and inspiration at first sight! We had our interview and we learned that the 200 peso, the bill we had held in our hand, on and off over the last ten years, was our muse; Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz. How could we have missed that?