Art and Inspiration Highlight

In Heerlen? Visit Blender!

While exploring Heerlen, a city in the south of the Netherlands, I was – as usual – on the lookout for galleries and other places that display art. To my great delight, I found Blender.

Heerlen has an extensive new development in the city center. There you’ll find the train station, restaurants, a hotel, parking, and other enterprises. It’s is called the Maankwartier, and it was here (Stationsplein 7) that I saw a sign saying “Blender“.

“Hmmm – what is this? An art gallery?” I was uncertain. The day was bright with sun, so the interior was too dim to see well. But the doors were wide open, inviting music poured out, and signs said Open! and Welcome! What I could see looked like art. So I stepped in.

Inside I found a large commercial space, partitioned to make dozens of charming individual shops, tiny galleries, and kiosks. Each was uniquely decorated, displaying items for view and for sale. And what a wide variety of items! Art, yes – paintings, prints, sculpture, ceramics and more. Also food items, garden items, music, toys, vintage clothing and jewelry, and on and on.

There was a row of tables drawn up together, with many jigsaw puzzles poured out and partly assembled. There was a space for presentations, workshops, exhibits, and concerts. Many people were strolling around, looking at everything, visiting with each other, talking to artists and vendors.

That first walk-through was a real delight, and that delight has only grown with time. There’s always something different, so Blender is always a surprise. Their online agenda is packed with activities and exhibits.

Since that first visit, I’ve learned a little about how Blender came to be in Heerlen, and how it sees itself and its role in the city.

The force behind Blender is Mark Curvers. (You can see him here in a YouTube interview when Blender first came to Heerlen. The interview is in Dutch, with English subtitles.) He has worked for years to make this idea happen, first in Maastricht, then in Heerlen with more success. Mark is inspired by the Cittaslow movement, which values community, slow living, local economies and traditions, and nurturing creativity. According to the Cittaslow Manifesto, these things are necessary to give people sustainable, high-quality lives.

Blender is great in so many ways. First, it’s a warm and welcoming space for everyone, full of inspiration and surprises. Second, it gives local artists and other vendors a place to show and sell their work. Also, for people like me who are interested in art, it’s a wonderful place to see a lot of what the local art scene has to offer. (The internet can do this, of course – but online is not the same as seeing the work, and the artist, in person.) In addition to art, there are many other items to see and purchase available at Blender. Also, since it’s located right in the center of town, Blender is easy to access; a pleasant way to spend an hour or more.

The ideas behind Blender – community, creativity, respect for local traditions, nurturing the local economy – are all ideas I think are vital for people as individuals and for the world as a whole. Since Heerlen is my new home, I’m thankful that Blender is here.

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