A 440 is recognized by musicians around the world as the tuning standard. Upon my first entry into 440 Ortiz - A, it seemed inevitable that music and art were destined to be found at such an auspicious address. The history of how 440 Ortiz came to be involves many artists and dreamers. Artists, Gregory Hawthorne commissioned FAIA architect Jerome Lomax to design this chic modernistic structure conspicuously nestled in the heart of the industrial district of Sand City. Jerome Lomax, treasured by all who had the good fortune to know him lived at the address himself. Following his passing, close friend and philanthropist, Donald McEnry Davis took over stewardship of 440 Ortiz. Don imagined and created a space where the visual, theatrical and performing arts would coexist and thrive. Then 2020 happened and lives shifted every which way. The silver lining of all these shifts is that we became the new stewards of 440 Ortiz.
Naming the venue was so fun and somehow made it real. Growing up in Trenton, NJ in a row house with 9 people in a 3 bedroom one bathroom house involved lots of compromising. My French mother, Raymonde, always made us feel that we had everything we needed. She encouraged her 7 seven children to talk about their dreams around the kitchen table. She called that time “building castles in Spain”. The concept of dreaming big and imagining anything was possible helped me navigate a lot of uncertain times. Well this is sort of a castle in Sand City. With the ocean at our front door there could be no better invitation to dream and create or “build castles in Spain” than a SandBox. And so it is.
A community of talent
I am blessed to have so many gifted and generous colleagues that I call friends. With no money to promise but ticket sales they shared their many talents with a small audience that started from a mailing list of just fifty names. Mads Tolling, Grammy Award winning jazz violinist, presented the first show ever in June of 2021. The list of artists that have played and appeared in SandBox has grown to over 75 and we have held 49 events in just 15 months. And as of October 2022 the email list has grown to 600+.
This grass roots growth is so inspiring and a testament to the staying power of SandBox as an inclusive and inviting community space for realizing and witnessing the creative energy of the performing arts.