loveIf there is one guiding belief that drives the creative work of John and Candace Stough it is this: Love is more than an emotion. Love is an action.

Based on this simple principle the husband and wife team have created several works of the sort of public participatory art that every healthy community needs. When LOVEhuntsville creates artwork they merely construct a framework in which the community fills in all of the personal and emotional gaps. From public graffiti spaces that encourage passers-by to “play” through illustration by using the building blocks of X’s and O’s, to individuals assigning their greatest life stresses, fears, and worries to lemons that will soon be sweetened into lemonade, the resulting messages are always ones of hope and endearment for the diverse crowds of people willing to let their stories become public art.

We are all human. We are all flawed. We all feel pain. We all need love. – Those timeless, fundamental themes are somehow the ones our human race needs constant reminders of, and luckily for the city of Huntsville there is an earnest non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the message of love in action in the most humble, least preachy, and sincerest means available: Art!

You can visit the studio of <3_HSV at Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, but the location of this organization is superfluous to the root of their mission. Much better would be that you take on the mantle of their cause by treating love as something you do rather than feel. Whether that means participating in any of the community art opportunities LOVEHuntsville regularly installs throughout our city or privately helping a stranger in need, we will all be better for it. Take care.

The people of Huntsville love one another, and it shows in their stories. This love knows no age, no race, no creed, no color, no gender, no disability, no religion. This love is neither boastful, nor proud. It cares more for others than for self. It does not keep score. It always looks for the best.

This love is shown to victims of human trafficking, violence, and loneliness. It is given to those seeking education, a roof over their heads, or a meal to keep them warm. It is exemplified when neighbors help clean up storm damage, when barbers provide school supplies and a fresh hair cut to help kids start school right, and when a little girl asks for donations to help feed the hungry (rather than presents) for their birthday.

It is the heart of LOVEHuntsville to help create outlets for community expression and creativity, present opportunities for people to have a hands on experience with art, to stimulate conversations about issues facing our communities while strengthening community ownership, and to explore the human condition in each of us; in the hopes of awakening souls to real causes in our city, to inspire hearts, and to encourage a response within a community of people that want to make a difference.

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