Over the next three days, a fellow that goes by the name of D.J.Spooky will be walking the streets of Chestertown. While the name might not immediately be recognized at first, the enormous effort and teamwork needed to bring the artist and author to Washington College speak volumes about how important it was for the former Metropolitan Museum of Art artist-in-residence to be on the Eastern Shore this Fall.
The Spooky visit is also the kind of event that should give every resident of Chestertown a sense of profound gratitude that Washington College is amongst us. By pulling together resources from SANDBOX, the Starr Center, and WC’s Concert Series, the College continues to demonstrate, year after year, its ability to bring some of the best international examples of artists and writers at the very peak of their creative output.
D.J. Spooky’s visit also marks an important moment in Chestertown’s cultural history. It will be the last art program that SANDBOX founder, and first director, Alex Castro, will host before his well-earned retirement in December.
It’s safe to say that this is a very bittersweet moment for those who know of Alex’s remarkable contribution to the arts in Chestertown. After years of extraordinary professional achievement as an architect, magazine publisher, and gifted artist in both Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Castro and his wife, Kelly, chose Kent County as the place to begin a new phase of their life experience in 2009. And since that moment of arrival, Alex’s handiwork can be seen in virtually every part of the community’s art and cultural undertakings.
Alex has not only contributed to the community through creative leadership roles with groups like RiverArts and the Sultana Education Foundation; he single-handedly obtained a $600,000 grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation for Washington College to create SANDBOX as a way to integrate WC into the community through art.
In his second interview with the Spy, Alex talks about SANDBOX, the future of art in Chestertown, and the use of the word “soup” as a metaphor, which he first used six years ago in his first interview with us, to describe the carefully blended combination of art, artists, and arts organizations into creating a remarkable rich texture that now makes up one of the most exciting and emerging new centers for art in the mid-Atlantic region.