Guest Post by Jeriah Hildwine
I first met Conrad Freiburg in what must have been the Spring of 2008, while I was living out in Belmont Heights (about as far west as you can go and still be in the city limits) and working at an Ace Hardware in River Grove. A friend my wife Stephanie Burke had made while we were living in Baltimore was dating a guy from Chicago, a friend of Conradâ€™s. Unfortunately, I had to work at the hardware store while the rest of them went to visit Conradâ€™s studio, but when I got home from work, Stephanie described to me what she had seen: a big wooden roller coaster, down which one rolled a bowling ball. She said it was awesome.
I didnâ€™t know it at the time, but the piece Stephanie had described to me was â€œThe Slipping Glimpser,â€ its name taken from a quote by de Kooning, apparently famous although I hadnâ€™t heard it before Conrad told me about it, fairly recently: “…When I’m falling, I’m doing all right; when I’m slipping, I say, hey, this is interesting! It’s when I’m standing upright that bothers me: I’m not doing so good; I’m stiff. As a matter of fact, I’m really slipping, most of the time into that glimpse. I’m like a slipping glimpser.”
The Slipping Glimpser is a 160-foot track roller coaster, made of ash and hickory.Â Conradâ€™s carpentry skills give a level of high craft and polish to everything he makes; at his recent exhibition It Is What It Isnâ€™t at the Hyde Park Art Center, I was amazed by the precision and craftsmanship that he put even into the wooden bracket which held the camera with which he was documenting the operation of the Self-Contained Unit of Entropy. The Slipping Glimpserâ€™s track is designed to accommodate a bowling ball.Â Conrad had some custom-made clear bowling balls, like the one that Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray) used in Kingpin (with the rose inside), only instead of a rose, the balls used in the Slipping Glimpser contained fragments of a previous sculpture: The Ball Dropper.
The Ball Dropper (2006) was a simple ramp in which a bowling ball was loaded into one end, rolled down the ramp to gain velocity, then hit a â€œski jumpâ€ at the end to launch it over a short trajectory onto a pre-sighting target landing zone. Objects to be destroyed were placed in this landing zone, and were destroyed by the impact of the ball. The Ball Dropper was put to work as a busking device, audience members paying a small fee to have an object of their choosing destroyed by the machine. This kind of performative panhandling fits into Conradâ€™s work ethic, which he described to me (when he was the
visiting artist at Co-Prosperity School) as â€œEverything I do has to provide me with food, shelter, or art.â€
Conrad has a weird, frugal humility, living simply and downplaying the significance of everything he does, which really comes across in an essay he wrote for Studio Chicago, called â€œThe Great American Loserdom.â€ Many months ago, Stephanie and I visited Conradâ€™s studio to see what he was working on; it was a prototype of his drawing machine, a â€œharmonograph.â€ He showed us the rough prototype, about the size of a sewing table, pendulums weighted by coffee can-sized chunks of concrete, which when set to moving created spirals or more complex shapes, bow ties and butterflies of line.Â Conrad fed us dinner, an unexpected combination of rotisserie chicken (inexplicably, he had a rotisserie cooker in his studio), chickpeas which he had sprouted himself in a Mason jar, and oatmeal. It was strangely satisfying, and a perfect illustration to what he had been telling us, about a life in which he made do with very little, in order that nothing be allowed to get in the way of his making art.
Cut to this May, an event called Drink, Draw, and Destroy. I was running a drawing workshop and drinking martinis, but afterwards I was free to go see what Conrad was up to. He was the â€œDestroyâ€ component of the event. The Self-Contained Unit of Entropy used a dropped weight to destroy small wooden sculptures that had been made by visitors to the event. I sat down at a vacant station to make one; a wooden â€œsledâ€ served as the platform that would deliver my sculpture to the machine to be smashed. I went with a classic â€œlog cabin fireâ€ type setup: a pair of sticks (balsa wood being the material provided) laid parallel, then a second pair laid across them, and so on, each set getting slightly smaller, until the whole thing had the shape of a step pyramid. I saw another visitor making a very similar arrangement, and I must admit his reached a far more impressive height. But mine would serve, and so it was delivered to the machine.Â The aforementioned digital camera documented its â€œbeforeâ€ state, and then the weight was dropped, smashing it. An â€œafterâ€ picture was taken, and the work was complete.
This destructive device has a precedent, not only in the Ball Dropper, but also in the first work of Conradâ€™s I ever saw in person. A few months after we met, Conradâ€™s show â€œA Great Daydreamâ€ opened (on Friday, September 5th, 2008). â€œA Great Daydreamâ€ refers to Gore Vidalâ€™s description of the Declaration of Independence. That document is central to the work in this exhibition: thirteen (as in original colonies) wall sculptures each illustrate a passage from it, and the large, central sculpture consists of a table and suspended concrete weights with their aspect ratios derived from the Declaration. The sculptures were interactive in many ways, for example in one piece the viewer can pull a cord which causes a hammer to strike a block of concrete, chipping it away very slowly.Â The centerpiece, though, was the large table containing fragile wooden sculptures. A crank on the wall lowered (very, very slowly) a massive concrete weight, which if lowered far enough would destroy the sculptures. Stephanie and I, after having a few
glasses of Lindaâ€™s trademark vodka punch, took turns working the crank, desperately trying to lower the block enough to destroy the sculptures, and every once in a while Linda would come out, shoo us away from the crank, and work it the other way, seeking to delay the inevitable destruction of the sculptures. It added a fine sense of drama to the whole affair, and by the time Steph and I called it a night, the sculpture was still standing.
Conrad recently had another show at Linda Warren, this one called â€œThe Blind Light, The Pyre of Night.â€ The Blind Light is an eleven-sided form (an undecagon) which serves as a performance chamber, concealing a musician inside. The form of the structure is intended to suggest a space capsule such as Apollo or Gemini, bobbing in the ocean after returning to earth. The performer (when I saw it, it was Conrad himself, although he had several guest musicians perform in it as well) is concealed from the audienceâ€™s view, simultaneously eliminating the visual distraction of the performerâ€™s appearance from the
musical experience while creating a â€œwhatâ€™s going on in thereâ€ kind of fascination. The other works in this show include a sculptural representation of the amount of fuel it takes for a spacecraft to reach the moon, and â€œBurning Starsâ€ which are incense burners with constellations of holes drilled into their aluminum covers. The whole affair, like all of Conradâ€™s work, has a mystical, spiritual, pseudoscientific feel to it, a cross between 19th Century Spiritualism and the Museum of Jurassic Technology.
When I think now about Conradâ€™s career, I keep coming back to a piece which Iâ€™ve never seen, but which he old me about during his presentation at Co-Prosperity School:Â Catapult For A New Millennium. Built during what must have been Conradâ€™s last semester of Undergrad at SAIC (Fall 1999), this project was a catapult installed in a soybean field in Paris, IL on New Yearâ€™s Eve, on the border between the Eastern and Central time zones. For one hour, it was after midnight in Indiana but before midnight in Illinois, and the catapult could launch objects across the time zone and into the new millennium. He describes the purpose of the catapult as having been to launch his career through time and space, into the future. His great modesty aside, it seems to have succeeded.
GUEST POST BY ELIZABETH CORR
In April, Princeton Architectural Press released the first monograph by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects. Reveal is completely enthralling, so much so that it becomes impossible not to pour over every single footnote, photo caption, and insert. There are incredible nuggets of information packed throughout, all of which provide a voyeuristic glimpse into the day-to-day operations of one of the most wildly successful and innovative design firms coming out of Chicago.**
I have to admit that I tend to get nervous when an artist I admire steps boldly into new territory â€“ in this instance writing. There is always the fear of disappointment, but fortunately Reveal does nothing of the sort.
The book is organized according to a logic that underscores much of the undertakings of Studio Gang â€“ by material. It is this fascination, obsession really, with material that makes Studio Gang’s work so compelling. Theyâ€™re consistently pushing the boundaries, and in doing so, challenging perceived limitations of materials from both performance and aesthetic perspectives. This approach to design is refreshingly scientific and deeply rooted in a process of assemblage. The studio searches for inspiration in seemingly unlikely places, and it is this guiding philosophy that distinguishes their approach from that of many other firms.
For example, when you think about steel what comes to mind? For those at Studio Gang, one answer would be samurai swords. Seems strange at first, but by the end of the essay I found myself nodding in agreement wondering why I hadnâ€™t made that connection ages ago. This is just one example of the seemingly disparate connections Reveal pushes you to make, thereby confronting the often times insular world of architecture.
Whatâ€™s particularly nice about Reveal is that it doesnâ€™t try to do too much. That doesnâ€™t sound like a compliment, but it really is. Since this is their first publication, Jeanne could have crammed loads of information in here, surely there is a great selection to choose from, but instead she demonstrates great restraint, letting the Studio Gang narrative come to life through a robust collection of images, sketches, foldout essays, and graphicsÂ – for those graphically inclined, the credits page is not to be missed (see this article at Imprint for numerous page illustrations from the book). As a whole, the publication challenges the commonplace way in which public discourse on architecture is shaped â€“ i.e. around one, maybe two, superstar partners â€“ and instead, insists upon acknowledging a broad range of collaborators (engineers, scientists, fellow architects, students to name a few) that make each of Studio Gangâ€™s designs possible.
Reveal illuminates the idiosyncratic approach through which Studio Gang garners inspiration, and it is precisely this process that lends credence to the studioâ€™s overall designs â€“ designs that seamlessly articulate the needs of clients, communities and environment.
I patiently await the next installment, and something tells me Iâ€™m not alone.
**Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that Jeanne Gang is a supporter of NRDC, where the writer is currently employed.
Elizabeth Corr received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in African Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her graduate work focused on contemporary African art in post-apartheid South Africa. She lives in Chicago and works at NRDC, an environmental nonprofit.
GUEST POST BY MARISSA PEREL
In this guest post, Marissa Perel talks with artist Justin Cabrillos about his studio practice and his recent performance of Following Dance at the MCA Chicago. Cabrillos will also be performing at: remixed/reimagined 2011 at the MCA Chicago Performance Benefit on Thursday, June 23, 2011, at 6 pm.
Marissa Perel: Tell me about your process for the Following Dance performance you did at the MCA as part of the Without You Iâ€™m Nothing: Interactions at the MCA.
Justin Cabrillos: I wanted to make a response to Vito Acconci because my work is largely inspired by his endurance pieces in the 1960-70â€™s. For this performance, I studied his Following Piece, where he followed around strangers in the city for minutes or days until they disappeared from his view. I combined techniques for following museum visitors by imitating their movements while I performed on his sculpture, Bridge Chairs for Sex and Gender.
I considered Acconciâ€™s movements retroactively as a form of dance in Following Dance. Itâ€™s a triangulation of his voyeurism, how he moves his body motivated by that voyeurism, and the bodies of the people who lead him through space. I became interested in a public choreography.
MP: How did you take this public performance art piece and make into a dance?
JC: I started observing people in the museum in October before my performance in January. Iâ€™d go into the MCA and watch the public in museum mode. I studied how people hold themselves when they go to see art down to how they hold their weight or shift their gaze. It was a kind of movement analysis that informed how I would build the dance. I sought to embody how people interacted with the art. Or more to embody the relationship between the viewer, the objects and the space between them.
Because of the nature of the work in the Without You Iâ€™m Nothing Exhibition, viewers are moving more than they normally would, and I saw that as an opportunity for movement analysis. I also paid attention to people who didnâ€™t choose to interact with the work, their stillness became a source of choreography for me.
Once I was performing, the ladders of the Bridge Chair enabled me to have a birdâ€™s-eye-view of what people were doing. I could look through the Andrea Zittel piece, A-Z Cellular Compartment Units and see kids taking off their shoes and crawling around, so Iâ€™d take off my shoes and crawl around. The ladder really facilitated the voyeurism for the piece.
MP: Vito would love that!
JC: I know! I developed a system to call attention more to the viewers than to myself. If someone was directly looking at me, I wouldnâ€™t follow that person, but the person could see who I was following. Itâ€™s like when youâ€™re in a dance class, watching the teacherâ€™s movements and trying to follow as best you can. In this case, the public is the teacher. The goal is not so much to parody to make fun of the viewer, but to reveal something about the viewers to one another, and to create a consciousness of the relationship between the viewer and the space of the museum.
MP: How is this experience different than your experience of stage-based performance?
JC: I had to think of a different way to structure the performance. Because it wasnâ€™t about everyone being part of my time, but about the time people were spending in the exhibition. It was like a game where I had to be hyper observant of the audience. On stage youâ€™re rarely aware of audience members as individuals. In this piece, I had to anticipate how people would respond to my actions. It required me to simultaneously observe and perform the audience. That was a lot of information for me to contain in my body! I felt like I was possessed, inhabited by the other bodies in the room.
MP: I find that to be a compelling aspect of your work in general, how you embody your research, whether itâ€™s historical data, responses to sites or in this case, how you are embodying a relationship between art and the audience. It seems like you have to empty yourself of your own contents in order to become a vessel for the subjects of your performances. How do you make space for this, literally in your body and conceptually?
JC: When I was on a residency with Every House Has A Door, I had the opportunity to meet Netherlands-based choreographer, Meg Stuart. Once in a critique she said, â€œThe body is not yours.â€ I think itâ€™s important to let go of your body and see what happens. This can be liberating because you can see what your body is capable of.
By the end of my performances at the MCA, I could pan across the audience and string 6 different movement combinations together from the people I observed because I was totally invested in their vocabulary. My interests are now much more activated around the space of what Iâ€™m seeing in relationship to where I am in the moment.
MP: How long were you performing Following Dance?
JC: For two hours a day over the course of 6 days. I also performed for First Friday, artsmart [an event sponsored by the MCAâ€™s Womenâ€™s Board], and I will be performing it again for the MCA benefit.
MP: This is definitely enough experience for you to perfect the art of â€œobservational vocabulary,â€ how do you keep it fresh?
JC: A lot of people talk about the conceptualism behind performance art of the 1970â€™s, but what I appreciate is the childlike wonder about it. One thing thatâ€™s different about this piece from my other work is that itâ€™s light. Thereâ€™s an almost childlike sense of humor about it.
During the First Friday show, I noticed a man texting on his cell phone, so I started to act like I was texting . Everyone that was watching us noticed what I did and started laughing. Another day, I noticed a woman lying inside the Convertible Clam sculpture [also made by Acconci]. I laid down in the other half of the shell and slowly copied her movements. It took her a long time to figure out what I was doing.
People seem to be of two minds when they figure me out, they either revel in the attention and play with it, or they run away. Kids are endlessly stimulating because they are always moving and they are also willing to play the game.
MP: What is it like for you to leave that way of performing and return to your studio?
JC: Even when I have physically left the space of the MCA, Iâ€™m not sure if my experience leaves me -itâ€™s never completely over. As artists, weâ€™re constantly living with the material of our work. I sleep and eat my material, and I try to pay attention to how my daily life is affected by the focus of my work, how my intention is shaped or directed by my interests. I work very hard to make ephemeral art, and I often ask why I am doing this. I donâ€™t have an answer,but I think the intimacy that I get to share with the audience, based on my intimacy with the material is one of the reasons I make ephemeral art. So, it’s about sharing and extending that intimacy with the audience.
For more information on Justin Cabrillos, visit his website here.
Marissa Perel is a performance artist, writer and independent curator currently working in Chicago, IL.
GUEST POST BY SARAH MARGOLIS-PINEO
Iâ€™ve had the past two weeks to ruminate on the phrase: creative supply chain. The idea was introduced at the Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference in Detroit on April 6-7 as an iteration of the creative economy in post-industrial cities. Taking cues from traditional cycles of production, as well as from the information systems of digital technology, the creative supply chain was presented as model to revitalize the 21st century economy through the stimulation of local and well-integrated creative practices.
Following the two, very full days of conference conversation, I was eager to discuss the event with a maker who is already contributing to this notion of the creative supply chain. I made a date to interview Veronika Scott, Detroit wunderkinder and creator of the Empowerment Plan, a project that combines social activism with good design through the production of self-heated and waterproof coats that transform into sleeping bags. I first encountered the Empowerment Plan at a Detroit Soup micro-grant supper back in October, where Veronika spoke about her project over bowls of vegan butternut squash. In the five short months since, the 21-year old designer has been featured on CNN and NPR, sponsored by Carhartt, and taken meetings with the Japanese embassy as well as the Red Cross.
The majority of the attention that the Empowerment Plan has received surrounds the coat itself, which beyond being a potentially life-saving tool for homeless and displaced communities, is a stunning design object made from everyday materials. To create her coats, Veronika has implemented a unique production cycle that relies on the employment of homeless women, usually mothers, who are taught the skills to create and distribute the coats to â€œunreachableâ€ individuals who are most in need. Integral to this project is the notion of empowerment, which to Veronika, exists in tandem with education and employment. What interests me about this project is how the coat becomes a model for the cycle that produces itâ€”both are fully sustainable systems that promote independence, wellbeing, and inherently, empowerment of both user and maker.
Veronika is first and foremost a designer, who operates at that curious intersection of culture and social activism. Her praxis has swung a wide arc between fine art and manufacturing, but in essence, her process is to locate a problem, and creatively work to produce a solution. To achieve this, she utilizes tools from the business world as well as the creative sector, and will unabashedly network for material or intellectual gain. She has an uncontrollable passion for issues relating to homelessness. At first, I mistook her zeal for youthful exuberance, but through our conversation, I realized that this almost-college-graduate is well on her way to becoming a predominant voice in humanitarian design.
This conversation was recorded in a bougie coffee shop in Royal Oak, a suburb north of Detroit, which struck me as an ironic venue, until our conversation was interrupted by an older man who decided to clip his fingernails at an adjacent table. We werenâ€™t so far from the city after all. Discussed in this interview is that illusive creative supply chain, big, pink band-aids, the collaborative creative processes, and Detroit as a city of makers.
Sarah Margolis-Pineo: Beginning with the Empowerment Plan, how did that project start?
Veronika Scott: It started first as a school project. At that point, it was literally product design, so I focused on the coat, and the design. I thought: itâ€™s cold, they need something to wear, something to sleep in, something waterproof and self heated, and it started off pretty small.
I spent three days a week, every week, for five months with a group of people at neighborhood service organization, which is also known as Viet Nam on the streets. Itâ€™s hands down the roughest, most aggressive, most displacedâ€¦ Itâ€™s not even a shelterâ€”itâ€™s a warming station in Detroit! I didnâ€™t know that at the time. I was very naive, and very stupid to go there for the first time.
SMP: Warming station?
VS: Itâ€™s somewhere you can go and just sit for 8-hours, and then you get booted out for the next group. So I went there at 8pm, three nights a week, every week of the semester, and continued on to the beginning of the summer. It was through that time that the project did not die. Instead of going: okay guys, semesterâ€™s done and Iâ€™ve got my grade, I continued to do prototypes with them, and they still continued to test them. Even when I didnâ€™t have anything to show them, I would still go and talk at the same scheduled day, at the same scheduled time every week, just to say that I was there.
SMP: And out of this process emerged a beautiful, as well as a functional, design object. This axis of art and social activism is becoming more prominent, especially here in Detroit through discussions relating to the creative economy. Iâ€™m wondering how you see your work fitting into that conversation?
VS: I donâ€™ t see [The Empowerment Plan] as being fine arts. In no way is it fine arts. When the coat idea was lumped in to the project, [a college administrator] wanted me to do gallery shows and this fine art ideation, and I thought: this doesnâ€™t need gallery shows, this needs funding and larger warehouse space. This doesnâ€™t need to show itself off anymore, and it doesnâ€™t need to think about itselfâ€”it needs to act. I felt like what I was being asked to do was read through a document and highlight spelling mistakes and errors. I feel like that is fine art: you highlight, you make awareness in the world to a problem. I feel like what my project is, is going in and retyping it. I have a very strong issue with highlighting something, Iâ€™ m one of those people who needs to act and do something.
SMP: What did you take from this idea of â€œcreative supply chainâ€ at the Rust Belt conference? Do you feel that business practices should be a more integral part of creative practices?
VS: Thatâ€™s what I think is really lacking. Yes, there are a lot of great things that come out of fine art in this city. The pink wall, for example, the big pink band-aid, thatâ€™s greatâ€”itâ€™s highlighting or covering a bruise. But, one: itâ€™s not doing anything; and two: the big issues that those artists arenâ€™t willing or need to be pushed to join up with that sort of commercial, business oriented world that theyâ€™re trying to stay away from. There needs to be something lasting, because right now, were in this state of anti-structure in Detroit. I described it as the Wild West of creativity, because you can almost do anything you want if youâ€™re driven enough to get it or do it, which is great. But if thereâ€™s not any structure applied to it soon, if thereâ€™ s no heavy manufacturers coming in and trying to tie themselves to somethingâ€¦ This needs to happen, otherwise it will start to collapse. The pink wall will fade or crumble and disappear. And what are we left with?
SMP: So what advice would you give to the creative community in Detroit to cultivate something lastingâ€”to creatively problem solve and see tangible results?
VS: Start figuring out names. I think it has everything to do with networking. I wouldnâ€™t know anything about what Iâ€™m doing if it wasnâ€™t for the brilliant people I surround myself with, and the brilliant people willing to put up with me and my questions. And these are some amazing CEOs, lawyersâ€”some amazing people in all senses of the word. I know artists think they donâ€™t want to reach out to that type of person or that they canâ€™t. Youâ€™d be surprised, that even if itâ€™s just googling until you find a name of someone that does clothing manufacturing or kids toysâ€” someone who works for Hasbro. You think you canâ€™t contact them, but you need to try. Iâ€™ve emailed hundreds of people to help me with this. Communication is huge. And I think thatâ€™s how you apply that structure. You canâ€™t know everything about what youâ€™re doing. There were so many aspects of my project that I didnâ€™t understand, and I still really donâ€™t, but I have people beside me who do.
SMP: Collaboration seems to be integral aspect of your practiceâ€”you seem to have cultivated all these micro-communities through the process of the Empowerment Plan. Tell me a bit about your involvement with the new project in Corktown, which I understand is based in the idea of collectivity, and bringing together a network of creatives from a range of fields.
VS: [Phil Cooley and collaborators] are bringing together quite an amazing group of people. Everybody from chefs to architects, to engineers, and heads of foundations. Businesspeople! I think this is the typical structure that everyone should haveâ€”as eclectic as this. When you build a community you need to have it be eclectic. You canâ€™t just hunt down all your artist friends and call it a day and just make pottery. You need to branch out to people you may be uncomfortable with, and you fully acknowledge are more intelligent than you, and possibly more creative than you. Those are the best people to surround yourself with, and thatâ€™s what I see this new warehouse/structure being. It blew my mind that they approached me! These are established artists, designers, chefs. People within the city and outside the city coming in specifically to have a space in this warehouse.
SMP: And this is studio space?
VS: Studio-production space. To pay for the space, weâ€™ll be teaching kids at least 4-hours a month. So thatâ€™s like paying rentâ€”weâ€™re expected to teach! Kids are a huge part of this space. Studio space is great, but Iâ€™ m not one of those people, anymore or right now anyway, who will use a studio to paint for 10-hours a day. My studio is about producingâ€”getting ideas out, and communicating with others. And my contribution was saying to Phil: Youâ€™re talking about kids in the public schools, and we need to branch out to kids who are not in schools at all. Iâ€™m bringing this back to homelessness, but thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m closest to, thereâ€™s a huge problem with homeless youth, and theyâ€™ re trapped in this deep cycle just like anyone else.
SMP: Do you think the specific conditions here in Detroit have enabled this type of collective, socially conscious, cultural iteration?
VS: Yes. This wouldnâ€™t have been able to happen anywhere else. Perhaps Russiaâ€¦
SMP: The climate is similar!
VS: The climate is similar, as is the socio-economic status of most of the people who live in Russia. But, Iâ€™m not from Russia, and I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s anywhere else in the US that I could do this. It has the space. It has the creative community. It has the media attentionâ€¦ Itâ€™s a weird place right nowâ€”thereâ€™s little structure, decaying buildings all over the place, thereâ€™s skyrocketing joblessness. So, itâ€™s a weird combination.
SMP: At the conference, I often heard Detroit referred to as a city of makers.
VS: As a city, weâ€™ve been a maker culture since the beginning. When the city was still flourishing, we were a part of makingâ€”the hands on production of automobiles, clothing, shoes, and leather goods. We were so tangible. Some of the best goods came out of Michigan, and Detroit in particular, and I think thatâ€™s so deeply ingrained in all the generations. The grandfather did cars, and from there, the sons and daughters made products that other places in the country didnâ€™t have the skills to do. Detroit was raised by, and into it. Itâ€™s part of everyoneâ€™s beingâ€”we are a community and city based on producing things. Thatâ€™s something that is very hard to kill, especially now with the new digital world that is so intangible, a lot of Detroiters didnâ€™t know what to do. When the economy fell and we lost all those production jobsâ€¦ To this day, people still donâ€™t know what to do without hands-on making.Â There are so many skilled people in this city, itâ€™s insane! I think thatâ€™s where it has to go againâ€”return to the culture of making, but differently this time. Yes, it did fail, but it did in the rest of the world as well economy-wise. You canâ€™t blame the city, but weâ€™ve been doing it for 20-or so years now, which is longer than the crash. We need to apply new structures and new systems to it, because right now, the old one does not work. The old paradigm for making and producing no longer applies. In order to succeed, we need to think of new ways. This is where the idea of the artist comes in. Looking at something in a different way.
Yes, we are makers, but we canâ€™t rely entirely on that anymore. We need to join forcesâ€”business practices are everything. We are a maker community, but we canâ€™t be afraid to let other non-makers in.
Sarah Margolis-Pineo is a curator and writer. She is currently the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Collections Fellow at the Cranbrook Art Museum.
We wanted to pass this along to our readers, as it seems like a great opportunity all the way around: there are just a few days left to take advantage of Chicago Artists’ Coalition’s Bolt Residency Application / Membership deal – artists who apply for the Bolt Residency before April 22nd (that’s this Friday, folks) will receive a $20 discount on CAC Membership (all applicants must be CAC Members). Full information on the Bolt Residency and application process follows below:
The Bolt Residency is a highly competitive and juried artist program housed in the former FLATFILEgalleries, an 8,000 square foot space in the vibrant, art-centric West Loop neighborhood. Bolt Residency is a one-year artist residency program consisting of nine subsidized studios and professional exhibition space with daily, ongoing professional development programming and support from CAC staff.
All artists applying to Bolt must be current CAC members. Artists who apply before April 22 receive a $20 discount on CAC membership. If you have any questions about membership, please contact the CAC office (773.772.2385) or email Alyson Koblas (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Bolt Residency is an investment in YOUR artistic career, providing ongoing dynamic, in-depth collaborations with prominent curators, cultural institutions, visiting artists, gallery directors, dealers and collectors.
CAC will hold two open houses with tours of the space, every 15-20 minutes. Tours will take place at 217 North Carpenter onÂ Sunday, April 10 from 2-5pm and Tuesday, April 19 from 5:30-8:30pm.
Bolt Residency seeks to create a supportive environment that promotes and evolves artistsâ€™ professional and artistic practices; providing ample space for the development of groundbreaking work.
Critical to our partnership with artists in residence are ongoing dynamic, in-depth collaborations with prominent Chicago curators, cultural institutions, visiting artists, gallery directors, dealers, and collectors. Bolt Residency hosts vital services and programs that provide artists with opportunities to build new audiences and meaningful connections to industry and business leaders throughout the Chicagoland area. Bolt Residency engages the Chicago arts community and its public in critical dialogue about contemporary art. CAC programs foster community and stimulate invention, risk and innovative artistic practice.
CAC will work closely with Bolt Residents to:
- Develop a customized professional development plan based on your vision and personal goals.
- Provide one-on-one monthly studio visits and workshops by the following partners (with more to come):
Candida Alvarez: Interim Dean of Graduate Studies/Professor, SAIC
Lynn Basa: Artist and Instructor, SAIC. Author of The Artistâ€™s Guide to Public Art: How to Find and Win Commissions
Elizabeth Chodos: Associate Director, Oxbow, SAIC
Romi Crawford: (Ph.D.) Assistant Professor, SAIC, Former Curator and Director of Education and Public Programs at the Studio Museum in Harlem
Chicago Art Dealers Association
Robyn Farrell: Gallery Manager, Donald Young Gallery
Mark Jeffrey: Adjunct Associate Professor Contemporary Practices & Performance, SAIC. Curator. Artist.
Nancy Jones: Executive Director of Learning and Interpretation, Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)
Charlotte Marra: Assistant Director, Rhona Hoffma
Monique Meloche: Owner/Director Monique Meloche
Jackie Terrassa: Assistant Director of Public Programs, MCA
- Coordinate open studios and exhibition openingsÂ with the West Loopâ€™s gallery walks
- Showcase your studio to interested parties.
- Market exhibitions and special events to the press and arts community.
- Provide full and free access to CACâ€™s Art.Business.Create (A.B.C), a series of intensive educational workshops and consultations designed to build artistsâ€™ professional business skills (worth over $500)
- Offer competitive studio rental rates with the option to share/divide or use space individually.
- Create evaluation and sustainable exit plan, post-residency
Bolt Residency Studios
- (5) Front Room Studios: $455 for 260 sq.ft.
- (1) Private Studio: $525 for 300 sq.ft.
- (2) Back Room: $390 for 260 sq.ft.
- (1) Side Studio: $225 for 260 sq. ft.
- Open floor plan, work-only (non-residential)
- Move in date: June 15, 2011. Security Deposit: TWO monthsâ€™ rent
April 29 (12pm): Application and supplementary materials are due via email to email@example.com
May 18: Announce finalists selected by jury
May 23-May 27: Finalists interview with CAC staff
May 31: Announce Bolt ResidentsÂ
June 15: Bolt Residents move in to 217 N Carpenter
Move In Date
Move in date: June 15, 2011. Security Deposit: Two monthsâ€™ rent.
Submissions are evaluated by a jury of four professional peers from Chicagoâ€™s leading cultural institutions: Romi Crawford, Tricia Van Eck, Monique Meloche and Allison Peters Quinn.
Jury selected finalists will be interviewed by CAC staff.
Artists who wish to apply as collaborators or apply to share space must apply individually and send individual fees, application and support materials (collaborators must include a separate page describing your collaborative proposal).
Types of Disciplines: painting, works on paper, photography, new media, installation and film. Sculptors,performers and sound artists are encouraged to apply, but may be limited by materials. Please contact Cortney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, color, sex, age, veteran status, or disability.
Applications are available online by clicking here.
Applicants must be Current CAC members. To check on status or to join, please contact Alyson Koblas at email@example.com. (Artists who apply before April 22 receive a $20 discount on CAC membership.)
Applicants need to reside in the Chicagoland area during residency.
Applications must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org AS ATTACHMENTS and include:
- Completed Application (available online HERE)
- Resume (as PDF attachment)
- Work Samples (max 10 images, SUBMITTED ONLY AS JPEGâ€™s, no larger than 72dpi) as attachment. WORK SAMPLES MUST INCLUDE: TITLE, DIMENSIONS, DATE AND MEDIUM.
- Non-refundable $25 application fee (paid via our secure online terminal)
To keep up to date with Bolt Residency, sign up here to receive CACâ€™s e-newsletter.