Have you noticed this storefront in Beltway Plaza close to the entrance to the movie theater? I learned about it thanks to this video on Greenbelt Access TV. It’s called The SPACE, for “sharing positive artistic and creative energies,” which first opened in September of 2018 as a one-month pop-up art-making space. From the start it was so popular that Quantum Company, which owns Beltway Plaza, committed to donating the space for at least a year, until next Halloween.
And speaking of Beltway Plaza, I had heard about its renovation/redevelopment and worried that it would be closing but not to worry – the construction will happen in phases and the mall won’t have to close. What a relief for customers and for the many small, non-chain businesses in the mall, so many of them owned by immigrants.
What Goes on at The SPACE
- Free art-making space and supplies
- Mental wellness days, including a support group, mainly for teenagers and their parents, led by poet/mental health advocate Whiskey Girl.
- Vintage game nights
- Expressive art workshops
- Teaching computer programming and web design
Greenbelt Art Advisory Board and a graduate of the Greenbelt Citizens Police Academy Class 18-01!
Who’s in Charge – Shaymar Higgs!
The force (of nature!) behind The SPACE is one Shaymar Higgs, whose website describes him as an “artist, designer, educator, pastry chef, skate park manager, skateboarding instructor, mural garden art director, mental health advocate and someone with wanderlust.”
None of that would have prepared me to interview Shaymar, who’s no doubt one of the sharpest, most high-energy and engaging people I’d ever met. I’ve since learned that that’s a common reaction to meeting him.
Very briefly, he grew up in Clinton, the oldest of five children of a single mother who is a disabled veteran. He opened his first community art space in her garage and has gone on to teach art at the Prince George’s African-American Museum, Project Create in DC, and the Fridge art gallery. He’s a graduate of the Greenbelt Citizens Police Academy Class 18-01 and sits on the City of Greenbelt’s Art Advisory Board.
Shaymar told me that the kind of art he teaches and supports is “fearless, accessible and transformative.” Okay!
To learn more about the many interesting stops along his career path from pastry chef to art educator and mental wellness advocate, you can read all about them in this article.
Shaymar and Greenbelt Online
The team at Greenbelt Online is pleased to announce that Shaymar Higgs has joined our Editorial Board! That means we’ll be picking his brain for ways to connect this website with the arts and business communities of Greenbelt, and to explore new ways to use it for good. Exciting stuff!