From New York native to Worcester rabble rouser, Che Anderson is breathing wonder into Wormtown through street art and ingenuity.
For those of you not in the know, Worcester has churned out quite a bit of brilliance over the years. From the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, to the founding of New England’s beloved Polar Seltzer in 1916, to Harvey Ball creating the smiley face that has haunted our culture, we can safely note that the city has a placeholder in history. Now meet Che Anderson, the man that is putting our beloved Wormtown on the map again, this time as a big league arts and culture epicenter.
Back in September, Take Magazine met up with Anderson to discuss the much-anticipated POW WOW! Worcester, a ten-day international art festival that left Worcester covered in breathtaking murals, and put it in the spotlight as a “must see” destination for art lovers, tourists, and townies alike. When we spoke to him, his dream was to see Worcester as part of a global dialogue about art alongside cities like Austin, New York City, London, and Tokyo. “The question to me was never, When will Worcester become a cultural epicenter?, but rather, When will the world notice that Worcester already is one?,” says Anderson.
He notes that, “The greatest change to the city was the increased belief of the arts community that these types of events are possible. There is nothing too ambitious or outlandish for Worcester, and as long as you have a coalition of engaged citizens, anything can thrive here.” Anderson’s enthusiasm and dedication have undoubtedly made him a local celebrity. At the blooming age of 27, he was recently named Worcester’s Person of the Year 2016, and continues his illustrious career as the staff assistant to the city manager, where one of his main objectives is to establish public arts initiatives to further the city’s cultural economy.
A New York city native who transplanted to Worcester in 2007, Anderson graduated from the College of the Holy Cross, thinking he would become a lawyer. However, his growing passion for street art, theater, and culture, and his interest in having an impact on the city, propelled him on his path to his current job at City Hall. For all the accolades and recognition that Anderson has been receiving of late, he is keeping a cool head and an eye on the future. “I hope 2017 pushes me, and Worcester, to new heights,” he says. “POW! WOW! Worcester is returning this summer, and I can only hope it’s as impactful as our 2016 efforts. I look forward to working more with Mass Development and keeping up with the Mass Cultural Council to better my understanding of statewide arts policy and funding. I also hope to attract some new ideas and organizers to the City of Worcester to facilitate further growth.”
When Anderson is not tearing it up at City Hall or furthering the burgeoning art scene of Worcester through his participation in PAWG (Public Art Working Group), he can be found enjoying a beer at Deadhorse Hill or seeing the latest installation at Nine Dot Gallery. He is looking forward to the new year, despite a fraught political climate, and believes that art is the future of change. “Politics greatly influence art (a trend displayed from Warhol’s Kennedy to Hanksy’s Trump), as art serves as the voice a person chooses to express their belief on everything from a political party to platform,” he says. “Art is a reactive voice of the people; and sometimes, with enough support, the art can influence political policy and ideology leading to a cycle of influence and change.”
Find him at your local Worcester hot spot, or follow him on Instagram to see his favorite art and #latenightthoughts. His passion and style are sure to capture your attention.