When arts meets humanity
The last person I expected to see at Anheuser-Busch’s Biergarten in Merrimack Wednesday afternoon was Manny Ramirez. Turns out this Ramirez wielded a paint brush, where the Red Sox outfielder who wore #24, was a pretty big deal with a Louisville Slugger back in the day.
“I was at Camden Yards in Baltimore when you hit your 500th homerun,” I teased Manny the painter. It’s true, Lady Baba and I watched the flamboyant slugger belt his 500th dinger against the Orioles in person, on May 31, 2008. This couldn’t be the same Manny Ramirez, who was probably about 12 when the landmark homer was launched.
Manny hears the comparison a lot and we both agreed that this Manny has a different God-given gift. His amazing work is part of Nashua’s Positive Street Art, a gift to Nashua. A trio of Positive Street Art members were on hand for Greater Nashua Habitat for Humanity’s Playhouse Project under a tent on the sprawling grounds of Anheuser-Bush. They put their urban art touches on one of four playhouses that were being auctioned on Habitat’s local Facebook page (the bidding started a few days ago). I was there to help celebrate by making a couple videos for those who could not attend.
The partnering of Greater Nashua Habitat for Humanity and Positive Street Art could not have been more perfect. Pre-cut, unassembled lumber was laid out and in just a few hours, volunteers built and painted four playhouses in a mini version of what teams of volunteers do across the country to help create affordable housing which is hard to come by, especially in greater Nashua. You probably know that America’s oldest president ever, Jimmy Carter, has been an active Habitat volunteer for years. Having just turned 98-years old a few weeks ago, the 39th president was the face of reducing housing insecurity for decades. The playhouse fundraiser was a reminder of that. Kimball Physics, one a several supporting organizations, built the playhouse that had a cosmic look Neil deGrasse Tyson would have appreciated.
Filling in for the famed astrophysicist was toddler Chloe, who, with her dad, had a great time taking in the kid-sized space that featured stars on the ceiling of the one-room mini galaxy. You can bid to win it by going to nashuahabitat.org or their Facebook page.
Back to Positive Street Art. President and Co-Founder Cecilia Ulibarri was among the three painters doing what they love, adding light, happiness and amazing vibes through art. She and Co-Founder Manuel “Phelany” Ramirez share a passion for urban expression. The third member of the PSA team was Christian Ramirez, no relation to either Mannys. To date, PSA has created dozens of massive murals. I’m thinking Nashua probably has more urban murals per capita than anywhere else in the country. Hey, I’m a fan and love their work.
And this Manny Ramirez may not be a star athlete, but he hit it out of the park last week for Greater Nashua Habitat for Humanity.
Contact Mike Morin at mike firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @MikeMorinMedia. His column runs the first, third and fifth Sundays of the month.