Thursday, September 30, 2010

Somerville Renaissance Women Yani Batteau: An artist who believes in transformation through the arts.

( Batteau--front right)

By Doug Holder

I met Somerville artist, musician Yani Batteau at a recent meeting of the Bagel Bard's in Davis Square. She was wearing a big cowboy hat, and carrying a banjo case. She is a woman with optimistic, bright blue eyes and a down home manner about her. She is an artist who believes that art has the power to transform people--the power to change things. More than once she has involved folks in one of her many projects and they came away with a new sense of their potential.

Batteau is decidedly a renaissance woman. She is an accomplished banjoist, vocalist, and even has a flip art book published about the Statue of Liberty titled: " The Statue of Liberty Takes a Dive" that is housed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. She has worked as a graphic artist, college instructor, and has won Somerville and Mass. Arts Council Awards. One memorable project she undertook was the " Living Statue" project at South Station in Boston. She painted live humans in bronze body paint. These statuesque humans motionlessly postured amidst the din and rush of commuters as they made their way to yet another work day.

Batteau also plays the five string banjo. She describes her music as mountain style, or "vintage country" She said: " My voice and my music meld together well." Batteau has played Club Passim, Johnny D's in Davis, and The Somerville Theatre to name a few venues.

Batteau often works with the Somerville Arts Council. Although she admires Gregory Jenkins the current head and thinks he is a great organizer, she looks fondly back to when her close friend Cecily Miller was at the helm.

Batteau loves being in Somerville with its "quirky people" and its decidedly artistic vibe. But like many artists she looks to the time she won't be able to handle the high rents and stringent parking regulations.

Batteau who is of French and Puerto Rican descent does house painting on the side to help keep food on the table and the wolves from the door. She remains optimistic and very busy, and in spite of these "post-recessionary" days she still believes that art can truly change things.

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