This weekend Jenny and I were fortunate to attend the Hand-In-Glove Conference in Chicago, hosted and organized by our friends at threewalls. The weekend was tailor made for visual arts facilitators working at the crossroads of creative administration and studio practice. We felt compelled to participate because SPACE's programming interests come from an artist-centered perspective and align with many of the individual artists, collectives, storefront spaces, events, and other organizations represented there. The conference was full of people engaged in the pragmatic realities and imaginative possibilities of organizing exhibitions, re-granting programs, publications, residencies, public programs, platforms for projects, and a variety of other programming that challenges traditional formats for the production and reception of art at the grass-roots level.
What do we have in common? We tend to be grassroots, resourceful, innovative, responsive to our community, and focused on artistic excellence. But we certainly weren't all the same, which was the exciting part. And we all came from a wide variety of kinds of communities.
We caught up with Sarah Wagner, who runs a residency program called DFLUX in Detroit along with her husband Jon Brumit, who you may remember from his project Vendetta Retreat at SPACE back in 2005. We hung out with Stephanie Sherman from Elsewhere in Greensboro, North Carolina, and learned more about the residency programs they offer in their thrift-store-museum. We met Eleanor and Oliver Wise of The Present Group, a subscription art project that has channeled over $20,000 toward funding artist projects, stipends, and development of critical essays. We talked into the wee hours with Courtney Fink and Jeanne Gerrity from Southern Exposure in San Francisco about object oriented art and social practice. We learned about workshop structures from Mark Allen of Machine Project in L.A. and heard about their recent lockpicking class. We witnessed Works Progress host a Chicago version of Salon Saloon, which featured a fascinating segment on the history of phone directories in the Windy City.
Why phone directories? Because the conference doubled as the occasion to release threewalls' newest project, Phonebook 3, a directory of independent art spaces, programming, and projects throughout the United States. We're glad to be included in this book, which you can purchase on their site (do it!).
We are excited to continue conversations with our peers about these grassroots creative activities and innovative organizing models across the country, and would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences, too.