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Hand-in-Glove was conceived by Threewalls as a way to start a national conversation on creative activity happening outside of traditional institutions and spread the word about innovative organizing models and under-the-radar opportunities that could be useful to artists and organizers, including those engaged in the pragmatic realities and imaginative possibilities of organizing exhibitions, re-granting programs, publications, residencies, public programs, pedagogical experiments, and a variety of other programming that challenges traditional formats for the production and reception of art at the grassroots level. The conference welcomes spaces and projects that are self-organized, independent, and noncommercial. It also welcomes organizations that started small but have grown big, retaining the artist-run values and priorities that were a part of their founding. ;. A vibrant and vital art world would be unimaginable without these spaces and projects. Despite the fact that these programs offer most — if not all — of the ground floor support for artists, they operate with very little to no funding or resources beyond sweat equity, volunteer labor, and personal resources. In short, these spaces lack the proper support system and infrastructure to fully thrive and actualize their programs on a fully resourced scale. In response to this realization, the conference was formed to bring together independent arts organizers from across the country to address the practical and philosophical issues prevalent in their work and network together.
The first conference took place October 20-23, 2011, with over 250 attendees and included the release of PHONEBOOK 3 and the Propeller Fund award ceremony. Hand-in-Glove also took place in conjunction with the MDW Fair, which Threewalls co-organized with Public Media Institute, Roots & Culture, and document. Food was catered by Roots & Culture Community Kitchen. Additional advisory and organizing help came from Elizabeth Chodos, Bryce Dwyer, and Sarah Workneh.
This four day event featured a keynote lecture by curator Nato Thompson, panels curated with guest respondents from artist-run culture around the nation, and artist-designed events, parties, food experiences and tours around the city of Chicago. Panels were held at the Geolofts, keynote lecture at Chicago Artists Coalition gallery, and Phonebook 3 release party at Threewalls.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Thursday, October 20
7:00 PM: Keynote lecture by Nato Thompson
Friday October 21
9:30 AM – 11:30 AM Regional Art Ecosystems panel
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM Lunch, Open time for discussions/workshops
2:30 PM – 4:30 PM Unconventional Residency Programs panel
7:00 – 10:00 PM: Propeller Fund Award Ceremony and MDW Fair Vernissage
Saturday October 22
9:30 AM – 11:30 AM Archiving Artist-run History panel
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM Lunch, Open time for discussions/workshops
2:30 PM – 4:30 PM Fundraising and Organizational Strategies panel
8:00 PM Release Party for PHONEBOOK 3 hosted by Salon Saloon at threewalls, FREE
Sunday October 23
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM Closing brunch and open discussion on the future of Hand-in-Glove
In his keynote presentation, Nato Thompson discusses the necessity of alternative infrastructures in, and for, the arts. He argues against the status quo of advertisements using culture for the purpose of consumption, and posits instead what he calls an “infrastructure of affect.” An infrastructure of affect–of feeling or emotion–is something that does not use culture for its own gain. Art movements, he says, are ways to (try to) get out of the discrete and temporary appetite of capitalist symbolic culture.
Capitalism consumes spectacle on a very quick turnaround basis, but he is in search instead of something which appreciates the importance of duration. He discusses the idea of legitimation–the thing that says that something is real. In the past legitimation has occurred top-down, but now, with the advent of social media, people are able to legitimate stories via each other. This process reverses who gets to legitimate things; we can produce each other, he says. The world produces us, and in turn, we produce the world. Let’s make a system to produce who we are; let’s make becoming machines, he dares the audience.
Thompson continuously cites the Occupy Movement as an example of one such alternative infrastructure. Nato Thompson’s charismatic discussion offers an energetic prelude to the following panel discussions which explore the possibilities and realities of alternative infrastructures.
Nato Thompson is chief curator at Creative Time, as well as a writer and activist. Amongst his projects for Creative Time are the annual Creative Time Summit, Living as Form (2011), Paul Ramirez Jonas’s Key to the City (2010), Jeremy Deller’s It is What it is with New Museum curators Laura Hoptman and Amy Mackie (2009), Democracy in America: The National Campaign (2008), Paul Chan’s acclaimed Waiting for Godot in New Orleans (2007) and Mike Nelson’s A Psychic Vacuum with curator Peter Eleey. Previously, he worked as Curator at MASS MoCA where he completed numerous large-scale exhibitions including The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere (2004) with a catalogue distributed by MIT Press. His writings have appeared in numerous publications includingBookForum, Frieze, Art Journal, Art Forum, Parkett, Cabinet and The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. The College Art Association awarded him for distinguished writing in Art Journal in 2004. He curated the exhibition for Independent Curators International titled Experimental Geography with a book available by Melville House Publishing. His book Seeing Power: Socially Engaged Art in the Age of Cultural Production was published by Melville House in January 2012.
REGIONAL ART ECOSYSTEMS
Kate Daughdrill, William Chavez, Colin Kloecker and Shanai Matteson, Joseph del Pesco
Bringing together arts leaders from across the country, this panel presents the working conditions of particular cities’ cultural scenes through the words of those who are firmly embedded in these communities. Participants will present regional reports on the state of the arts locally and discuss how to further information exchange and collaboration across contexts.
Questions raised by this panel:
Questions raised by the Q&A:
Kate Daughdrill presents Detroit SOUP, founded in the Mexicantown neighborhood of Detroit in February 2010 by Kate Daughdrill and Jessica Hernandez. At Detroit SOUP, people gather at a Mexicantown Bakery, pay $5 for a homemade meal, and spend the night listening to people pitch various creative projects for their neighborhood. At the end of the night, they vote to determine which project will win the funds raised from that night’s meal. SOUP is a forum for projects of all kinds—arts, building, agricultural, and community organizing—and brings together people from these various communities in a way that is pleasure-based and enjoyable.
William Chavez presents Boots Contemporary Arts Space of St. Louis, MO. William Chávez is an artist and cultural activist who explores the potential of the built and natural environment by developing creative initiatives that address community and cultural issues. He founded Boots Contemporary Art Space (2006-2010), a non-profit organization that offered support to emerging artists and curators. Since 2010, Chávez has focused on socially-engaged projects and collaborations in North Saint Louis, including Urban Expression for the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary, and Northside Workshop. He speaks about the pleasures and challenges of living and working in St. Louis.
Colin Kloecker and Shanai Matteson present Works Progress of Minneapolis. In the art-ecosystem metaphor, Colin and Shania consider themselves pollinators or catalysts: through their work with Works Progress, they bring together different projects from the art and non-art worlds. Works Progress started in 2009 as an extremely multi-disciplinary artist-lead studio and research and development space. They partner with larger institutions to create events such as Solutions Twin Cities, a multidisciplinary event in which a series of people give short presentations about something they’re really passionate about. Colin and Shanai discuss how artists can act as viruses in the DNA of a city as a whole.
Joseph del Pesco discusses his work as an independent curator in San Francisco. Joseph del Pesco shares his experience as an independent curator for various San Francisco art organizations, such as Collective Foundation, and speaks about his current work at Kadist Arts Foundation. Among many other things, the foundation houses a residency program not only for artists, but also for art magazines as a whole: An art magazine from another part of the world is invited to San Francisco for one month and do research on the San Francisco art scene, and thus displaying an outsider view of the city’s local arts culture.
UNCONVENTIONAL RESIDENCY PROGRAMS
Stephanie Sherman, Nancy Zatudil, Ryan Pierce, and Stephanie Jemison; moderated by Elizabeth Chodos
Residencies serve artists from every discipline, providing studio space, facilities, and time to complete work. They also serve as postgraduate institutions where artists can continue working out ideas in a social setting and meet new collaborators. Today there are many unconventional residencies operating under independent organizational models and at radically different scales, offering a range of experiences from community engagement in urban settings to temporary campsites in the woods. All of them nurture especially strong connections between the artists in the residency and the people who manage it. Panelists will discuss their successes and challenges regarding how residencies today are taking on especially active roles in shaping artists’ work.
Stephanie Sherman presents Elsewhere Artist Collaborative. Stephanie Sherman and George Sheer started Elsewhere in the site of George’s late grandmother Sylvia’s overstocked thrift store. The three-story building in Greensboro, North Carolina was stocked to the brim with toys, books, clothing, dishes, house-wares, and general knick-knacks, which, after Sylvia’s death, the family didn’t know quite what to do with. George and Stephanie moved into the building, challenging themselves with what it would mean to apply literary theorists’ abstract ideas of schemas and organizing systems to this very real house filled with very tangible clutter. Initially Elsewhere was defined as a store in which nothing was for sale, but the public was confused by how to interact with such a space. Stephanie and George began to invite artists to live, work, and play in the space with them, and Elsewhere quickly transformed into a living museum. Elsewhere encourages applicants to come without preconceived ideas of what they will create, and to instead respond to the environment and see where it leads them. The artists are challenged to create inviting and productive exchange with the community, and the building’s storefront is used as a site for this discourse.
Nancy Zatusdil presents PLAND. Practice Liberating Art through Necessary Dislocation is the commanding statement behind PLAND’s acronym. This multidisciplinary organization and residency program was founded by three women from San Francisco, Nancy Zustadil, and sisters Erin and Nina Elder, who together bought a plot of land in Taos, New Mexico. They invited residents to their land, and described PLAND as both an experimental idea and a way to create a space by being in it. They asked potential residents, What is your idea of hard work? What is your experience with communal living and/or collaboration? Are you prepared to be dazzled? Are you afraid of the dark?Together, the founders and residents taught themselves to live off-the-grid and began constructing a house. PLAND offers residents the access to a totally pared-down existence, and the freedom to simply “be.” Residents have the chance to ask themselves, What does it mean to live in a place? What is involved with cultivating a life? They are faced with the challenges of being in an environment where they are obliged to utilize practices of sustainability in order to survive.
Ryan Pierce presents Signal Fire. Signal Fire was founded by artist Ryan Pierce and activist Amy Harwood as a way to facilitate wilderness experiences for artists of all disciplines. The program invites artists and activists to share unique wilderness experiences on Oregon’s public land. Signal Fire is based heavily in bioregionalism—the idea that if human systems were restructured around the health of natural systems, we could live in a more sustainable world.
Signal Fire offers various opportunities for artists, from a residency program where artists are given a tent and supplies and invited to live on Oregon’s public land, to week-long content driven backpacking trips, where participants discuss shared readings. Signal Fire’s programs are based less on giving artists space to create their work, and instead on providing them with an experience which will potentially alter their view of the world, and change the way they create work in the future.
Stephanie Jemison presents Project Row Houses. Stephanie Jemison speaks about her experiences with both traditional and nontraditional residency programs. She questions the traditional residency model’s premise of mapping intellectual travel onto physical travel, and the historical roots of this idea in 19th century politics of travel and the corresponding dichotomies of familiar/foreign and home/away. Jemison brings up the relationship between geography, travel, commerce, and art tourism, especially with regards to the biennial model, which encourages portable artworks made and purchased by global citizens who lack commitment to a particular place. Jemison contrasts the biennial model with Project Row Houses, a radically local organization she has worked with in Houston, Texas. Project Row Houses was created by a group of African-American artists who strove to create a positive, creative presence within their own community. The organization is housed in 22 shotgun houses in Houston’s 3rd Ward, and offers an array of unconventional services to single mothers, urban kids, and local artists.
ARCHIVING ARTIST-RUN HISTORY
Renny Pritikin, Martha Wilson, and Mark Allen; moderated by Lane Relyea
This panel brings together leading figures in artist-run history to share, as living archives, the experiences and challenges they have faced. The discussion will focus on how the panelists’ own projects have been archived and remembered today as well as how the current generation of artist-organizers can better access histories of artist-run projects, dialogue with different generations, and archive their current activities. Moderator Lene Relyea begins by outlining the history of artist-run spaces, followed by each panelist’s presentation of his or her individual experiences.
Renny Pritkin discusses his experience as executive director of New Langton Arts, one of the original artist-run spaces, from 1979-1992 in San Francisco. Pritkin is also a frequent consultant to the NEA and the California Artist Council, as well as the founder of the National Association of Artist Organizations. Now he serves as the chief curator of all artistic programs at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. At Langton, he says, they made a commitment to document everything they did. Drawing on this experience, he asks, is the importance of an institution its future or in its past?
Martha WIlson is the founding director of Franklin Furnace Archive, a space dedicated to avant-garde art that began in a Tribeca storefront in 1976. Franklin Furnace presented and preserved temporal art, artist books, and other multiples. It went virtual in 1997, seeing the internet as a new venue for artistic freedom. The internet raised further questions about the space in which avant-garde, and especially performance art, occurs: Exactly where is the live performance of a pre-recorded video presentation? What ‘space’ is the artist occupying–the space in which the video was filmed, or the circulatory system of the internet itself?
Mark Allen is the founder and executive director of Machine Project, a non-profit performance and installation space in Echo Park, LA. Machine Project is a loose confederacy of artists producing shoes at locations ranging from museums to beaches to parking lots. He discusses how he has come to think of the work of documentation as part of the process of making, as something that was co-created with the work. Documentation, he says, has a collaborative loop built into it, and can be a way to make space for ideas, outside of physical space. He discusses the importance of collaborative documentation as a means to share ideas beyond one’s immediate community.
FUNDRAISING AND ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGIES
Theresa Rose, Jeff Hnlicka, Courtney Fink, Oliver Wise and Eleanor Hanson Wise; moderated by Abigail Satinsky and Bryce Dwyer
For small-budget organizations, especially those invested in unconventional organization models, the question of sustainability and growth is always a challenge. In light of the present funding climate, it is paramount that artists, independent organizers and nonprofits get together to re-imagine the possibilities for creating a healthy, mutually- supportive arts system and to design programs that promote collaboration and community spirit. This panel is a pragmatic discussion on how to raise funds, solicit support, and implement experimental programs from visionaries in the field.
Over the past four years, Theresa Rose has worked for the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture & the Creative Economy’s Public Art Program where she administers the Percent for Art program and has lead the City’s first temporary public art commission, Soil Kitchen, by the artist team Futurefarmers. Independently, Rose is the founder and a lead organizer of Philly Stake, a micro-granting program for relevant & creative community engaging projects. Rose is an active member of the Philadelphia arts community serving on the advisory board of both the Tyler School of Art Gallery and the Mural Arts Program, and is a member of the Philadelphia Public Art Forum. Before her employment in City government; Rose worked on several projects as an independent curator and artist. Rose received her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where she was chair of the Visiting Artist Lecture Series program. Rose is a practicing yogi and completed classical vinyasa teacher training in 2008.
Jeff Hnilicka is a culture producer currently residing in Minneapolis, MN. Jeff is the Director of Kulture Klub Collaborative, an organization that connects youth experiencing homelessness and artists. Jeff is also an active and founding member of Madame, a Queer feminist art space. Jeff was a founding member of FEAST (NY) and Revolting Queers (MN).
Courtney Fink is the Executive Director of Southern Exposure in San Francisco. Since 2003, she has guided SoEx’s vision and commitment to support artists and youth in an environment in which they are encouraged to develop and present new work and ideas. She has led SoEx through three relocations as well as the development and opening of its new permanent 20th Street building. She developed major program initiatives including SoEx Off-Site, a public art program; and Alternative Exposure, SoEx’s grant program developed in partnership with the Warhol Foundation. She has held positions at California College of the Arts and Capp Street Project in San Francisco, as well as Franklin Furnace in New York.
Oliver Wise and Eleanor Hanson Wise create hybrid systems that blur the line between art production, commerce, advocacy and philanthropy. The Present Group, an organization they founded in 2006, is dedicated to finding new ways to fund and distribute artist projects. Their subscription art project enables a community of subscribers to fund artist projects and receive limited editions in return. They recently launched a web hosting service that funds artists grants and in the fall of 2011 they will debut Art Micro Patronage, an experimental platform for showcasing and supporting web-based artwork.