Guest Journal: Patsy Asuncion – Bridges, Not Walls
Bridges, Not Walls
[Patsy Asuncion is a powerful member of our vibrant community here at The Bridge. Whether she’s promoting an open mic night, organizing an all-women poetry reading, or performing her own poetry, she is always contributing something energetic, inclusive, and significant for our Charlottesville community]
The landscape of varied arts in Charlottesville was a major reason for my move here some four years ago. I dove into the creative scene right away, my first adventure attending Verbs & Vibes at the Bridge Performing Arts Initiative (PAI). Booming music backing pierced and tattooed hip-hop artists was not quite the sedate poetry and prose program I’d expected. What surprised me more was I liked it! Here was this wild range of spoken and performance artists, musicians, singers, and ME where everyone was respected on the stage. I came back again and again.
Since that initial crash into the Cville arts scene, I’ve connected with many more word projects, (from workshops and readings to events) as well as supported local and professional artists on big stages and in bar scenes. There’s something for everyone every day of the week.
Being bi-racial, I’ve always been sensitive to insensitivities so I’ve found something for everyone has room for improvement. I don’t see much interaction among people of color (30%) with the White majority. Artists perform, supported by fans generally along color, age and money fences. Sizeable ticket costs, for example, must discourage some audience goers. I believe economics contributes to separation in housing, neighborhoods and the arts.
Despite dollar-powered demographics, I see the Bridge PAI mixing colors on the Charlottesville palette with brush strokes of neighborhood activities, school initiatives and interactive projects. One Bridge event is my monthly open mic. As the only female emcee in Cville, I support all artists, genders, skin tones and ages at this monthly show, now with 6800+ YouTube views. Another was the Women of Color exhibit, February 2017, which brought visual and word artists, including me, to showcase talents to a standing-room-only crowd. I was energized by the numbers but, more importantly, by the variety of skin tones honoring local women. I came away more confident there is an increasing interest and support of diversity, especially given the present adverse political climate.
Through their neighborhood dialogue, the Bridge is certainly one of the community leaders in building bridges, not walls to quote Suze Kassem from her Rise Up and Salute the Sun. Support for the arts in my Chicago settlement house frameworks my creative expression today. I’d like to see more opportunities for mixing people at arts venues too, like the Bridge’s Women of Color exhibit. That’s why I’ve initiated Nasty Women at the Bridge on April 18, 2017, which features three Virginia poets (including myself) sharing trials and triumphs as strong women. The Bridge PAI gives us all hope for increased integration of Charlottesville’s art community.
Patsy Asuncion, Ed.S.
YouTube – Patricia Asuncion Channel