Pentwater musician, Frank Galante, played his experimental guitar sounds while performers reacted to Aliya’s costumes that they wore. Her “anti-power suits”, are each named after uncomfortable feelings, and when worn, that feeling is embodied in the movements each restrictive costume allows.
Mary and I had been hard at work in the gallery for a week by the time the visiting artists arrived on Wednesday. Thanks to the talented gallery staff, we had finished installing the work to open the show that day, and were just putting on the finishing touches by the late afternoon. We welcomed Heather Kai Smith who flew in from London, Aliya Bonar from New York City, and Elodie Goupil and Amanda Kennedy who arrived on a flight together from Oakland, California. The crew kicked it off with a karaoke party at Kale's Korner, my favorite Grand Rapids bar that also happens to be within safe walking distance of my house. After our first slumber party at my place, the gang had breakfast at The Westside Cafe and headed to the gallery to see the show. Aliya's project involved gathering volunteers to perform in her costumes that night, and she spent most of the day working with Alyssa Natoci, her in-town liaison for the piece. The other visiting artists made the rounds at Grand Rapids thrift stores to get new digs for the opening reception. The opening at The Fed Galleries began at five-thirty, and more past residents rolled in; Brian Perkins from Seattle, Amanda Matles from New York, and Michelle Murphy from Chicago. Of course, our local past residents, Alex DiFiglia and Marlee Grace were in attendance, and all of our friends came out for the show clad in jean jackets.
Pentwater musician, Frank Galante, played his experimental guitar sounds while performers reacted to Aliya’s costumes that they wore. Her “anti-power suits”, are each named after uncomfortable feelings, and when worn, that feeling is embodied in the movements each restrictive costume allows.
Friday morning, after recovering from the reception afterparty, all of the visiting artists regrouped at Maggie's Kitchen for breakfast tacos. Carpools formed and bedding and beach bags were packed up, and the caravan to Pentwater began. We drove straight to the State Park Lake Michigan beach, to spread out in the glorious sunny day, share snacks and stories, and take quick dips in the cold lake. Early in the evening, we headed into town, to enjoy a reception for the visiting artists and Pentwater locals, bringing together past and present friends of the studio. Diana the snackmaster arranged for a delicious spread as always, with the help of The Wishing Well and Chris Hammock, who hosted us in her painting studio across from the Village Green. Little did we expect to experience an epic concert of classic and alt rock covers from the band The Oceana MVPs, playing at the gazebo on the green. Past resident artist Nick Lally joined us from Madison, Wisconsin, along with more friends who didn’t want to miss out on a weekend up North. After the sun had set and we waited out a burst of rain, the group tucked in for the night at Shared Space, carving out beds in the bunkhouse and the front room.
Saturday was a day full of field trips, beginning with the town-wide garage sale in Pentwater. The 43rd Annual National Apsaragus Festival was happening in Hart, and we made sure to catch the Royal Parade, deep fried asparagus, and a performance by the famous Scottville Clown Band. Our next stop was Ludington, for the town’s attempt to break the Guiness World Record for longest ice cream dessert. The House of Flavors provided ice cream for this half-mile sundae that had to serve at least six-thousand people with 12,700 scoops of Ice cream, 800 pounds of chocolate syrup, 600 cans of whipped cream, and of course, 2,000 Michigan maraschino cherries.
After a long production, where they had to get an official witness to confirm each step, everyone got their fill of sundae and got out of town. We made it back to Pentwater with enough time to picnic on Pat and Diana’s porch at Pentwater Lake, before piling aboard a borrowed pontoon for a sunset cruise. It was a perfect night, and we kept the good times going back at the studio with a campfire in the meadow homestead. Buzzing with conversation, we stayed up until the firewood ran out.
Sunday morning started with breakfast at the Cottage Cafe, and a quick tidy and pack-up of the studio slumber party zone. Intent on another beach day, we went to see Lake Michigan again at the Bass Lake Outlet beach, where a bowl in the side of a dune provided shield from the cooler winds and a gentle place to nap in the sun. Those who were brave went swimming, we all knew goodbyes were coming up and took the afternoon slowly. Everyone was headed home to different places, and split off in cars to Grand Rapids and beyond.
This summer, instead of hosting resident artists at our studio, we brought the studio into the gallery with an exhibition called The Land of Here and Now: Five Years of Artists at Shared Space Studio.
We invited all of our 34 past resident artists to show their most exciting work in a big, beautiful gallery in downtown Grand Rapids. After months of planning, we have 28 stellar artists in the show with work that runs the gamut from video loops, to performative costumes, to geometric wall pieces, to framed photographs, to paintings and projections. As a collection, the body of work formed and performed within this space is complex and unique. This exhibition brings together this diverse group and showcases the spirit of collaboration and creative placemaking. Honoring the studio itself, and the town of Pentwater, The Land of Here and Now includes a re-creation of the studio space plastered in contributions left by all past residents, and a work space for co-facilitators Eliza and Mary. In the tradition of including the public in our process, there will be performance and interactive programming for the run of the show, from June 9th to July 23rd, 2016.
The Land of Here and Now is a title borrowed from our favorite local folk hero, Swift Lathers. Lathers (1889-1970) wrote and published the worlds smallest weekly newspaper for 40 years, homesteaded in the Silver Lake Dunes, and was famous for hitchhiking everywhere he went and wearing a peculiar outfit every day. The Land of Here and Now is the title of his fifth book, which was known to be published, but all copies have since been lost to time.
With two short sessions this summer, our residency season has flown by. Our last week was busy as always, with residency must-do's like a pontoon cruise, climbing Old Baldy, morning yoga on the beach, Mystical Fire at the homestead, trips to local historical societies, and even an epic day at Sleeping Bear Dunes. The session two residents quickly bonded as a foursome last week, and this week they each took more independence- going deeper in their own directions to make the most of their short stay in Pentwater.
Rumi continued her daily practice of collecting found objects and diving into the shared materials at the studio. While there was a frenzy of sewing in the big room, Rumi dug out craft felt from our fabric bins and made an homage to her new favorite tortilla chips- made at the local restaurant La Fiesta. Her flag joined the growing assemblage of paintings and sun prints on the wall in our main space. As she was watching the sunset at the beach each night, she picked up particular pieces of plastic trash to use in her collage. After a few days she decided that her community engagement piece would be to pick up all of the beach refuse that she came across, and the bag of trash also made it into her wall piece.
Rumi had her work on display on Sunday when she, Evan, and our junior resident artist Hannah gave their slide talks. Hannah started the evening, and impressed everyone with her confident explanation of her past and present work- drawings and paintings exploring comic book and sic-fi characters and female pop icons. Hannah is eager to learn and try new techniques, and since our drawing club meeting during session one, she has been drawing more from observation than from photographs. It was great to see a young person so intent on their course as an artist- we could tell that Hannah has had support from the community in Pentwater at every step along the way.
Rumi shared her portfolio of installation work, each piece a unique response to a physical space and her personal state of mind. Rumi uses materials and the actions that manipulate them as metaphors and markers of time. She talked about her time at Shared Space, and her discovery of the best sunsets and the best chips in the world.
Evan was our last artist to present, and he walked us through his studies in printmaking and painting. We saw the recurring imagery in his paintings- hands and feet, camouflage, plant life, and self-portraiture- all come together in a video that he impulsively shot in the meadow, using his sound recordings from the Swift Lathers museum as the soundtrack.
Terri made good use of all of the cameras she brought with her this week. She diligently made it to the beach for sunset every night, shooting ice cream portraits on her rolaflex camera. On Tuesday evening we were treated to a pontoon cruise around Pentwater Lake and on to Lake Michigan, where Terri brought her digital camera to shoot the group of friends cuddling on the boat, funny boat names in the marina, and the sunlight on the water. On Wednesday, Terri and the other residents trekked two hours north to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where they hiked three miles through the sand to Lake Michigan and stripped down to shoot frolicking nudes on 35mm film. Since most of her work here was shot on film, there will be months between when she experienced these sights and people, and when she will get to see the outcome in printed photographs. We are happy that Pentwater locals and Michigan landscapes will become part of her stunning portfolio.
This group of residents had a great time in the kitchen together, and Terri's excitement about food sparked the idea for a Shared Space Studio cookbook. To start a collection of recipes that will live in the studio kitchen, Terri wrote The Bean Manifesto; a two-page meandering explanation of how to cook the best beans ever.
Terri decided not to finish the residency with the rest of us, and Rumi left with her- they both headed out of town on Sunday after the slide talks and one last trip to capture the sunset on Pentwater Beach.
Evan also took some amazing photographs this week (like the one above). He worked on one project at a time, and played with the idea of site-responsive work. He put in some solid studio time sewing a backpack out of a jacket from the Ludington thrift store and his painting canvas. He painted a double portrait, of a plant from the meadow and a local stranger from the internet. Evan and Terri played with song ideas and recordings of Terri on the organ, and he and Morganne had an impromptu recording session late one night. The video he showed at the slide talk was his first foray into video art, and as he bounced from project to project, he made a point of living each day as a series of creative acts- from cross-stitching a "pup" patch to cooking a beautiful meal for all of his new friends.
Morganne spent the first half of her residency researching and collecting information to inspire her projects. After visiting the Swift Lathers Museum, the Halcyon Nature Trails, and the Pentwater Historical Society, she became fascinated with the story of indian burial mounds that had been recovered somewhere very close to the studio. The very minimal article on the mounds in a book about Pentwater's history says that the native people were buried in a seated position; eternally facing the sunset. As she searched for the site of these unmarked mounds, she started to build her own mound- a small sand dune that would sit just behind the homestead in our meadow. With the help of facilitators and residents, Morganne collected sand from a handful of regional dune sites and transported it one bucket at a time to the clearing she had groomed. Using a cardboard wardrobe box as a retaining wall, she ceremoniously documented each step of the process- filling the box with sand and lifting it off to reveal the smallest dune in Oceana County. Her years in Utah, surrounded by Land Art, were evident in this project.
Morganne's dune was revealed Monday morning, and just an hour later we had torrential downpours. The dune weathered the storm and the thunder and lighting cleared up in time for a very pleasant evening on the last night of our residency. We hosted Another Pleasant Evening- a dinner party showcase of our session two artists. This event was also a fundraiser for the residency program, and we had donations for our silent auction from a few of our favorite local businesses. Evan decided to donate a piece of art to the cause, and spent the rainy afternoon painting a portrait of Nickey, embellishing it in his signature style with silk flowers and puffy paint. Rumi's installation was on display, and copies of The Bean Manifesto were available to guests as we served a buffet of rice bowls with beans and other toppings. This was perhaps the most pleasant of evenings; a smaller gathering of friends of the studio, with sangria by our cocktail master Morganne, a reading of a sentimental essay about Pentwater, and guitar stylings by local musician Frank Galante. Morganne's video played on a silent loop- showing her view of the Halcyon Trails and the construction of the dune in the forest.
After dessert, close to the sunset hour, we all headed outside to see Morganne's work in person. The first stop was at the open hatchback of her car, facing the meadow path, with five buckets of sand still inside. She kept this part of the process evident, as her daily labor was an important part of the piece. We tromped back to the homestead and began to circle the dune. Morganne talked about her interest in commodifying the natural landscape, the tradition of watching the sunset on the dunes and the connection to the burial mounds. The act of "stealing" the sand from various public beach sites made us question land ownership and tourist souvenirs, all the while wondering if we were standing on what was once sacred ground for a people long gone. Morganne made a wooden marker, to post further south by what locals call "The Sandy Bend," the most approximate place that the recorded burial mounds were unearthed. This project is likely a starting point for her- with more investigation to come.
After our dinner guests headed home, one special guest kept the party going. Scotty Wagner, our resident artist from last summer, joined the group for the night and brought us all back to his favorite spot for a campfire in the woods. The moon was almost full and illuminated our path to the magic point where the woods drop off from a sandy cliff into the Pentwater River.
The next morning was our last meal together, we had breakfast and coffee at the table while we imagined ourselves on a pontoon brunch cruise. The resident artists scrambled to finish and pack up their projects, and we ended our fourth summer season of kick-ass visiting artists. After thirty-five residents have activated the space in countless ways, we are now scheming to honor their work in an exhibition- keep in touch as we work out the details...
We have already made our way through three out of four weeks in our summer session, and this week brought a whole new crew to the studio. On Friday evening we welcomed our Session Two resident artists, arriving from Brooklyn, San Francisco, Oakland, and Chicago. Mary made us a spaghetti dinner and we caught the sunset at the state park beach, where the four artists were introduced to this foreign and romantic landscape we call the West Coast of Michigan. As residents settled in that night, they each began experiments in drawing, watercolor, and collage- christening the studio right away with a flurry of creative energy.
The next morning, we set off on a big day of local landmarks. We had breakfast at the Golden Eatery in Mears, then visited the Swift Lathers Museum. The museum is in the home of Swift Lathers, and is filled with artifacts that he both collected and created. Lathers printed the world's smallest newspaper, the Mears Newz, out of that house from 1914 until his death in 1970. He lived as a renegade and idealist, a conservationist who homesteaded in the vast sand dunes of Silver Lake, and hitchhiked everywhere to collect gossip for his paper. His writing is often poetic, and his mythology is so rich in the tiny town of Mears that many of our resident artists have been captured by his tales. As our new residents poked around the archives and exhibits, Terri Loewenthal, a photographer and musician from Oakland California, started to play the old pump organ in the living room. Evan English collected the sounds of Terri on the organ, and Rumi Koshino on the typewriter, and Morganne Wakefield silently researched the hitchhiking routes of Swift Lathers.
Our next stop was the Silver Lake Sand Dunes where the foursome scrambled up the steep dune to join the growing number of tourists in the area on a sunny Saturday. Next was the epic shopping trip at Hansen Foods, where the new friends found out that they shared dietary restrictions and foodie passions alike. The family dinner that night was a collaborative effort, and we started to talk about plans for the week and our calendar of possibilities. Evan was considering painting plants from the meadow and interacting with the local community through the dating app Scruff; Terri was dedicated to experiencing the sunset every night and taking portraits of ice cream eaters on the beach; Rumi had begun collecting found objects on short walks around the studio and documenting them with constructions paper sun prints; and Morganne's curiosity was peaked by Mary's story of the Halcyone Nature trail and the proprietor's 16mm films of trees.
Morganne and Terri were the first pair to give their slide talks this week, and they spent time on Sunday going over slides with Eliza before our weekly clean up and set up for the event. Friends from Grand Rapids arrived early to take an afternoon at the beach, and with the crowd a little thinner on Father's Day, we enjoyed another round of artist talks, a dinner of snacks, and project-furthering feedback from our guests.
Morganne navigated the arch of her work post-BFA, showing her involved research process and her resulting videos that examine female roles and narratives in American culture. She has been collecting scenes of woman hitchhikers in films and making her own hitchhiker video. She wondered if anyone had recreated the practice of Swift Lathers, traveling by foot and hitching rides to collect information. Terri's slide talk covered her work in photography from portrait series, to documenting collaborative work projects, to capturing a couple engaged in an intimate moment. After the slide talk the whole crowd headed to the beach to be a part of Terri's new portrait project- cone lickers at sunset. Terri and Evan made plans to make a song together using the recordings from the Swift Lathers Museum, and everyone had the chance to show off their musical talents that night at a private karaoke party. There is no better way to bond with strangers than singing a popular duet.
Another great way to get to know your friends is to go thrift store shopping, which is what the residents did together for most of the afternoon on Monday after the Pentwater Farmers Market closed early from a rainstorm. They arrived back to the studio with new outfits for an impromptu fashion show and photo shoot.
We had a great session working with our Young Artist Professional Mentorship participant (aka junior resident artist) Hannah Gebhart. She brought her portfolio of drawings and watercolors to the studio to scan and photograph them for her upcoming slide talk.
We have one more week of work and adventures!
Our Session One resident artists have already manifested their projects, packed up, and gone home. The last week was so very busy that we need to recap it one day at a time.
On Tuesday, Heather was relieved to have finished her animated music video for Ghostkeeper, and freed from her laptop she instigated the first meeting of plein air drawing club. The whole gang donned their jean jackets and headed down to the Village Green to sketch and paint as Pickin' In Pentwater played in the gazebo. Our young artist mentee Hannah and her friend Della joined us as we took turns drawing each other on the grass. We crossed the street and made it to House of Flavors in time to each grab a cone and head to the beach for sunset. Heather started her series of drawings for her new zine Cone Lickers, a document of the ice cream culture of Pentwater.
By Wednesday, the resident artists were deep into their projects in the studio, and took the morning to work hard, with the promise of a beach trip in the afternoon.
After her slide talk on Sunday, Melissa was invited to visit the multi-faceted maker space in Pentwater, Patterson Marine. After Patterson passed away last year, his business was taken over by a group of local men interested in setting up a shop to do a wide variety of production techniques. Because they have a new 3-D printer, Melissa came to talk about her experience with 3-D printing and show her work to some of the guys. We had a great conversation about plastics and adhesives, and she even got some feedback on rope choices for the hammock she was planning. The very special thing about an artist residency in Pentwater is the connections that are made- retired doctors and engineers can talk shop with a young artist and they can each learn from the other's perspective.
We caught the high sun at the beach in the afternoon, trekking out to the magical Bass Lake Outlet, our favorite spot for a long beach day, and found that no one else was there. Although Lake Michigan is still only fifty-six degrees, everyone took a quick dip before heading to the warmer water of the outlet. Kenny built a series of impromptu sculptures, staking and balancing pieces of driftwood in the shallows. We made sure to stock up on snacks from the newly re-opened Wishing Well convenience store, and after hours in the sun, we all had dinner at the 117-year-old Bortell's Fisheries.
Thursday began with a group trip to the Pentwater Farmers Market, and our favorite local coffee parlor and wifi hotspot, The Village Grounds. They generously donated five pounds of coffee to the studio this summer, so residents have been enjoying their roast day and night.
Joey had already had coffee of course, as she continued her new ritual of joining the silver-haired crowd of local men at Good Stuffs cafe each morning. She had the chance to meet a local artist who showed her his art collection and eclectic home, and a gentleman who makes pickles from his mother's recipe who brought pickles and fresh strawberries for the studio. As she listened to stories and shared her own, Joey realized exactly how to conclude her project with a gift- she made coffee mugs that will live at Good Stuffs and be used by the coffee crowd daily. After a week of working with clay again, she deftly added three mugs to her growing table full of clay vessels and dishes.
Cara continued her work in the ceramics studio as well, with a second clay cat, that she dropped from an eight-foot ladder this time. As these sculptures are a bit of an experiment in clay, the process was well documented:
Friday was a steady work day in the studio, as residents prepared for Monday's event and Sunday's slide talks. Melissa built an installation with neon string, hung from the ceiling of the big room. With Cara's cats and Joey's vessels finished and dry, we ran a bisque fire in the studio kiln. Kenny attended another screening of his film in Detroit and collected supplies from the hardware store on his way back.
Friends from Grand Rapids joined us in the evening, when Pat took eleven passengers on a sunset pontoon cruise. After our big boat ride, we roasted marshmallows over a fire in the meadow homestead and had a slumber party with screenings from our VHS library.
Those who were motivated on Saturday were up bright and early to go treasure-hunting at the town-wide yard sales. When we opened the kiln, we were not entirely surprised but somewhat sad to discover that both of Cara's cats had blown out in the kiln. The bottom of one of Joey's mugs also suffered a small explosion, and so we learned a lesson in hand-building and firing times.
The afternoon was dedicated to the National Asparagus Festival, the pride of our neighbor town Hart, the Asparagus Capital of the World. We had been eating fresh asparagus all week, but now was the chance to try deep-fried stalks and asparagus tamales. The Royale Parade on main street included Asparagus Queens, trickster remote controlled cars, antique tractors, two marching bands, and even a visit from Officer Pizzarelli.
After watching live music at the festival and having a proper dinner, we ended the day for the third time at House of Flavors in Pentwater. By then the crew had befriended John, the owner, who told us about his favorite flavors (which Heather recorded for the zine) and about the legend of the Super Pig- the biggest banana split in town.
As residents recovered from their ice cream hangovers on Sunday, Kenny was building an olympic standard Cornhole set. Cornhole is a yard game proudly hailing from the midwest, that has gained recent popularity across the country. Kenny said, "Everybody loves Cornhole," and decided to make a set for the studio as his community engagement project.
Heather was busy finishing her community project, her Cone Lickers zine, and we took a field trip to Ludington to print zines, buy hardware for Melissa's hammock, and see what we could find at the thrift stores.
Joey spent the day glazing her pots to fire that night, and we all prepared for the weekly slide talk. This week we had three artists sharing their work, and a record number of attendants that had us scrambling to find more chairs.
Cara told a story of her origins in the wild west of Mormon Utah, and her smart investigations into the history of that place. She talked about the collective American history of heading west, suburbs, manicured lawns, domesticated animals, and organized religions. Her work is often looking at larger tropes as well as looking at itself as an art object. Heather was up next, and explained her practice as three parts of a whole; drawing and animation, collaborative public projects, and multiples and illustration. She made us laugh with her collaborative invention of a contemporary art museum in her Calgary home, and subdued the crowd with A Woman Comes Into The Room- a softly articulated animation with rhythmic jumping edits. Fresh copies of Cone Lickers were on the shelf for the crowd to peruse. Our last speaker had drawn a few more locals out to the talk- Joey's new friend from coffee was in attendance, and was tickled to see a photograph of himself in her slideshow. Joey talked about her development away from the structure of her education in printmaking, towards the realm of social practice art where she makes her own structure for interactive projects. From quilting bees to tee shirts to pinch pots, Joey is always considering personal interaction as the primary medium for her work.
With one event after another, Monday was a bustling hustle to prep artwork and food for A Pleasant Evening. This was our first official fundraising dinner party event, modeled after our resident artist Amanda Kennedy's project last year, where she served dinner in handmade bowls that each guest got to take home with them. The title is a nod to one of our favorite local events, the annual A Pleasant Afternoon, in Mears. We invited guests to come for a shared dinner and an interactive showcase of our resident artist's on-site work, and asked each resident to contribute to the event in whatever way made sense to them.
After a successful glaze fire, Joey's mugs found a new home at Good Stuffs, and Cara finished her sculptures by patching them back together with expanding foam. Cara had been working all week on another project that came to fruition on Monday, a landscape painting and performance that happened during the event. After learning that the chain store Dollar General will be moving directly next door to our studio next summer, she decided to make an action painting by hiring a local lawnmower man to mow the footprint of the store in the currently untouched meadow. The sound of the riding mower and smell of fresh-cut grass interrupted the dinner with a buzzing reminder of what is to come.
Kenny finished his Cornhole set and prepared a favorite appetizer, Melissa decorated the tables with interactive neon sculptures mirroring her installation overhead, and Joey set up a table of her ceramics and collected objects with instructions for a poem-writing game. The dinner was a great success with twenty guests in attendance, and enough baked potato bar to feed them all. We discovered that sloppy joe turkey is amazing on a potato, watched episodes of the BeachCam Variety Show, and bought tickets for the 50/50 raffle that Heather organized. The evening was packed with time-based art, from a screening of Cara's video, Kenny's short film and Heather's animations, to Joey reading the poems that the guests had collaborated on, to a somber visit to the mowed section of meadow where Cara read her romantic essay on lawns. We even had a Super Pig from House of Flavors to go with the rhubarb cake that Melissa baked, and the night ended with an indoor tournament of Cornhole.
Tuesday was our last day of Session One, and residents were busy packing up and saying goodbye. Melissa installed her hammock in the meadow and we all took it for a spin. This will surely be a favorite nap spot for many Shared Space resident artists of the future.
We have a full house at the studio in this early summer season. Five residents, two facilitators, a documentarian, and a domestic systems manager on board means that every field trip is a two-car affair. On Friday evening residents arrived in Pentwater from Austin TX, Brooklyn NY, Calgary Alberta, and Miami FL. Each resident was greeted with a nameplate on their desk and a beach towel on their bed, and we started the session with dinner at the picnic table.
It is always exciting to introduce resident artists to Lake Michigan for the first time, a freshwater ocean that is hard to believe before you have seen it for yourself. After a tour of downtown Pentwater, we ended at the state park beach to participate in the local nightly ritual of watching the sunset.
Saturday morning the whole crew was up and on the road to our neighboring town of Hart, where we had breakfast at Morat's Bakery and hit up the thrift store, Ruthie's Music Café, and the Mexican market. Residents stocked up on groceries at Hansen Foods, our favorite grocery store that has become our new sponsor- donating food for the resident kitchen and our first slide talk. Now that we have fiscal sponsorship from Fractured Atlas, we have been courting locally run businesses for in-kind donations.
Residents returned to the beach in the afternoon, where Joey Korein set to work on collecting objects and painting in her sketchbook. In the studio Joey is working in terra cotta clay- a medium she hasn't touched since age ten- to make small dishes that potentially house object collections or serve dips at our upcoming dinner party. She is thinking about exchanges, reading Lewis Hyde's book The Gift, and heading into town to meet the locals that gather for coffee. Her practice at home in Brooklyn is typically in fabric, and were are excited to see what comes of her experiments in the fluid materials of clay and watercolor.
Cara Despain, from Miami Florida, has been working alongside Joey in the ceramics studio. She is hand-building sculptures of emaciated cats, that once finished, she slams onto a board to distort the form while the clay is still soft. The image of a cat is not new to Cara's work- she often uses animal imagery, experimenting with materials and processes in her sculptures and installations. The cat is an animal that lives in the human world and can be a stand-in for our own behaviors and social patterns. Cara started the week collaborating with resident artist Melissa Borrell on a cat sculpture made in bread- Melissa made the dough and Cara formed it, and we have enjoyed two loaves so far with more to come.
Melissa came from Austin with a suitcase full of materials to play with- laser cut pieces of edge glow acrylic leftover from one of her recent sculptures. As she brainstorms ideas for her upcoming show at the Lawndale Art Center in August, she is also responding to the space and scheming to make a hammock for the studio. She will be making an installation in our big room for the dinner party, and she has been surprising us with her baked treats in the kitchen- loaves of bread and rhubarb pie and an asparagus tart.
At our slide talk on Sunday, Melissa showed her development from kinetic jewelry to large-scale installation works. She discussed the process of applications and proposals that are the behind-the-scenes reality of so many artists lives.
Kenny Riches was our other artist featured in this week's slide talk. He shared his experience of making his first feature film and explained how his art practice, which includes painting and sculpture, runs parallel and separate to his work in film. His second feature film, The Strongest Man, premiered at the film at Sundance Film Festival this year and will go to theaters at the end of this month. Kenny and Cara both worked on this film and we were excited to screen it for our visitors after the slide talk.
Part of Kenny's time here has been spent driving back and forth to Ann Arbor and Detroit to do Q&A appearances at the screenings of his film in the Cinetopia International Film Festival. He is working on writing a new script while he is at Shared Space, and the more time we spend telling stories and taking field trips, we know that the quirks and charm of Pentwater will seep into his future film narratives.
The slide talk was attended by locals, out-of-towners, and Pentwater eighth-grader Hannah Gebhart, the first participant in our Young Artist Professional Mentorship Program. Hannah met the resident artists and will spend time working alongside them at the studio and getting feedback on her work, and she will give her own slide talk at the end of the season.
Our fifth resident artist, Heather Smith has been soaking up as much local culture and adventure as possible and making observational drawings along the way. On Saturday night, while attending the local blues festival at a campground in Silver Lake, she posed for an impromptu photo shoot on the surreal set of a mini golf course. Cara was there to help with art direction, and they proved right away that beauty and mystique are around every corner here- it just takes the right eye to notice capture it. Heather plans on documenting the local ice cream culture through drawings and collected anecdotes, and publishing her findings in a zine for our library. Coming from Calgary, Alberta in Canada, this is her first time in Michigan. When she is not drawing everything in sight, she is slaving away on her computer, working on animations- a few of which we will be screening at our dinner party event this Monday.
All in all, we are so proud of our team and are looking forward to what they come up with in the next week.
terri loewenthal / http://blog.terriloewenthal.com / oakland CA
Terri Loewenthal is a self-taught photographer and musician living in Oakland, California, where she plays with her band Shock.
Born in Florida, she attended Rice University in Houston, Texas. In 2012, she co-founded an artist residency in Oakland called The Chetwood.
Terri's portraits capture a sense of intimacy in collaborative situations with friends and strangers. Her landscape photography straddles the line between documentary and fantasy, highlighting the magic ever-present in the world around us. In these explorations of the relationship between reality and imagination, Loewenthal creates images that we can all relate to.
morganne wakefield / http://www.morgannewakefield.com / chicago IL
Morganne Wakefield earned her BFA at
Brigham Young University in Provo, UT in 2010, and is currently an MFA prospective at the University of Chicago. She has attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center Residency and Birch Creek Artist Residency, in Spring City, UT.
Morganne makes things and situations that ask questions about fantasy, freedom and escape. Memory and history (cultural and personal) are devices often used in her work to drive these questions. Congruently, she loves to travel and daydream.
evan english / www.evanpaulenglish.com / brooklyn NY
Born and raised in Boise, Idaho, Evan graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.F.A. in 2012. His academic career also included 6 weeks in Orvieto, Italy where he studied drawing and art history. He is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in Printmaking at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, developing a body of work that includes sculpture, printmaking, and painting.
"My work explores themes of sexuality, identity, and desire, embodied in the image of the figure. Decoration and craft are employed as allusions to memory, beauty and gender. Deeply rooted in autobiography, my work uses a collection of accumulated sociocultural signs to construct the self from, and often into a state of ambiguity."
cara despain / www.caradespain.com / miami FL
Cara is an artist working in film and video, sculpture, drawing and installation. A Salt Lake City native, she holds a B.F.A. from the University of Utah, and has shown in galleries and institutions across the country. In 2014 she was the Art Director and Associate Producer for the feature length film, The Strongest Man, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. She is also a founding board member of the Davey Foundation, a grant-giving foundation that give grants to emerging filmmakers and playwrights. From 2009-11 she founded and operated GARFO Art Center in Salt Lake City, Utah in an abandoned schoolhouse. As an active art writer, Cara has been published in various magazines, and contributes regularly to The Miami Rail.
joey korein / http://www.wantnotgoods.com / brooklyn NY
Joey Korein is an artist and teacher living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She earned a BFA in Printmaking and Drawing from Washington University in St. Louis and will begin pursuing a masters in Art Therapy at NYU Steinhardt in the Fall of 2015. Much of Joey's work involves used or discarded materials, especially second hand clothing, as she has always been drawn to these relics, suffused with human life and love. She continually searches for new ways to honor these objects and the lives they represent. Her most recent ongoing work, The Wabi Sabi Tee Project, is a participatory piece which utilizes secondhand jersey as the raw materials for a collection of individualized color-blocked t-shirts.
rumi koshino / http://rumikoshino.com/home.html / san francisco CA
Rumi earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics and a Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Visual Art from the University of Washington, in Seattle. She explains her creative practice this way:
"Making art is a way for me to learn about life and to understand the world I live in. My creative process reflects how I live my life, and the product mirrors the accumulation of my cultures, history, thoughts, emotions, and everyday life experiences. It is a place where all aspects of my life come together and lose their boundaries.
I work toward becoming an artist who, like a sifter, refines this complicated world into its essential elements. In doing so, I hope to benefit each person who encounters my work.
Truthfulness is at the center of my art practice. From the place of honesty, vulnerability, and curiosity, I continue to explore the wonder of this Universe."
melissa borrell / http://melissaborrell.prosite.com / austin TX
Melissa creates sculptures and installations that integrate light, shadow and movement into space-transforming artworks. Experimenting with different materials, she searches for new ways to understand the relationships between line, form, planes, and volume.
Interaction, transformation and kinetics are at the core of her work, with the goal of pushing boundaries between the dimensions and between different disciplines. From her beginnings in jewelry design, Melissa's practice has evolved to include sculpture and installations that address the tension between structure and fluidity; systems and chaos; movement and transformation; perception and reality.
kenny riches / www.kennyriches.com / miami FL
Kenny was born in Toyota City, Japan, raised in Utah, and currently resides in Miami, Florida. He holds a BFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Utah. He has exhibited his work most recently at Jancar Gallery (Los Angeles), Swenson Gallery (Miami), the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Torrance Art Museum. Riches' second feature film, The Strongest Man, premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. He is Vice President of The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists, which provides grants and support to filmmakers and playwrights, founded in memory of David Fetzer.
heather smith / http://heatherkaismith.com / calgary, AB canada
Heather Kai Smith uses drawing and the process of observation as the foundation of her multi-disciplinary practice. Over the past ten years Smith has actively contributed to her local arts community through artist-run centre directorial work and workshop facilitation, and has regularly exhibited her artwork locally and abroad. Her practice is rooted in examining sincerity of self through the act of production, the culture of display and the desire to give the invisible a shape.
We are doing it again!
A new crew in almost a different season, as we host our resident artists in June this year instead of August. The brilliant and charming Mary Rothlisberger joins us for her second summer as Co-Facilitator, Field Trip Captain, and Website Whiz Kid. This year we have two tidy sessions with 9 resident artists from across the country and Canada, meeting each other, storming the town, making new work that we never knew could exist, and diving deep into Lake Michigan and what it means to live in Pentwater.
Meet the 2015 Shared Space Studio Resident Artists:
session I : June 5th - 16th
heather smith / heatherkaismith.com / calgary, AB canada
melissa borrell / melissaborrell.prosite.com / austin TX
cara despain /caradespain.com / miami FL
kenny riches / kennyriches.com / miami FL
joey korein / wantnotgoods.com / brooklyn NY
session II : June 19th - 30th
rumi koshino / rumikoshino.com / san francisco CA
terri loewenthal / blog.terriloewenthal.com / oakland CA
morganne wakefield / morgannewakefield.com / chicago IL
evan english / evanpaulenglish.com / brooklyn NY
The Beach Cam Variety Show continued this week, with each episode taking a different tone and bringing in more audience members from the beach and online. On Monday Nick directed his episode, and an overcast sky was a perfect backdrop to the slow procession of flag-bearers coming out of the water and walking slowly up the beach and out of view. After a rainy Tuesday, Amber directed us to spell out a message with our bodies in front of the camera, steadily walking in a circle between each letter of "I wish you were here." Wednesday was a clear day and Amber and Scotty paddled Scotty's canoe down the river, across Pentwater lake, and down the channel into Lake Michigan to meet us at the beach. Scotty directed us to make a giant corn dog on camera, sculpting the form in the sand in just ten minutes. And for the grand finale, Mary directed a fantastic parade, as we were joined by more friends and marched down the boardwalk in a procession that lasted the entire episode. Mary stood on a ladder to hold up credits on screen, and the rest of us ran under the camera to do a quick outfit change and re-join the procession. As a whole, we felt that Beach Cam Variety Show was maybe the best artwork we had ever made, and we weren't surprised when someone walked past us while we lay in the letter Y, and remarked: "A+ for creativity!"
Amber's beach cam message was heard by many, and caused tears in a few who also wished they were here. Amber kept up her diligent studio practice in her last week. Experimenting with our donated slip-cast molds, she filled the kiln with seagulls and altered log pilings, as well as her own casts of cassette tapes and tiny bottles. She spent the rainy morning making fine ink drawings of plants she collected from the meadow, and was inspired to build a spice rack for our cluttered kitchen counter. After constructing the shelf, she used her sign-painting knowhow to label it the "SHARED SPICE" rack. Another project Amber is working on in her graduate studies is an investigation into how people live daily with objects they feel close to. She interviewed each resident, facilitator, and guest of the studio about one object that they hold dear, collecting personal stories and shooting documentation on Super-8 film.
Amber gave her slide talk on the last day of the residency season, showing some of her early work with puppets and animation and decorative food. She included her three proudest moments in life in the presentation, the most recent being our sand sculpture victory!
Yes, you may have heard, we won first place in the 41st Annual Pentwater Homecoming Sand Sculpture Contest! First place in the Age 17+ Category to be exact. Our success was attributed to an AMAZING team of builders, a kick-ass team uniform, and the perfect soundtrack -SAIL AWAY- played on repeat for four hours.
Eliza made custom shirts for everyone on the team, reviving the team name we came up with two summers ago, Keep It Wet. Three friends of the studio, Jenna, Josh, and Brian, brought their early morning muscles to the sand to dig deep, slap down, and keep it wet. After several brainstorming sessions in the previous week, and careful consideration of this year's homecoming theme "Sailing the Lakes," Nick drew up plans for a sailboat bursting out of the sand, with Beaver Island to the starboard side. The S.S. Soooo Fun was a life-sized boat, with the perfect place for a photo opportunity in our party cabin. The beach was full of people, and many of them joined us to snap a photo and dance to Enya. Judged on creativity, attention to detail, and relevance to the theme, we rose to dramatic glory at the awards ceremony. In the past two years, our team has come in second and third in the contest, so this was no small feat on the part of our excellent crew this summer.
Last week, resident artist Alex Difiglia went home to Grand Rapids. She couldn't stay away for long though; she returned Thursday night to help us win the sand sculpture contest and continue her pie research. After a day of shoveling, hauling water, and dancing our pants off, Alex made us the ultimate comfort food dinner- vegetable pot pies. On the table adorned with our trophies, she set each plate with a sheet of paper and asked us to record our thoughts on the pie. Everyone was happy to do their homework for Alex, well fed and triumphant.
Another special outing this week was a field trip on Wednesday to go see an elephant. Laura is the only captive elephant in Michigan, owned by a couple who live on a farm about an hour inland from us. Our friend Aunt Barb invited us to go to the farm with her, as part of her traveling research project where she visits captive elephants across the US, observing their conditions. Nick continued his documentary projects by shooting photos of the elephant and filming the group's reactions and conversations about the experience. He also spent time drawing this week, working on new repetitive mathematical drawings to add to his series of pattern drawings. Inspired by his surroundings, this new pattern looks a lot like a starburst quilt.
With many new projects in beginning stages, Nick wrapped up his time here by making a zine to leave in our library. His zine includes drawings, photography, and video stills of all of the people he has been spying on.
Scotty reluctantly spent the greater part of a few days in front of his laptop, entering data from his surveys into a spreadsheet and then figuring out how to visualize the data. With some help from computer whiz Nick, he made an animation of swirling pie charts. The colorful charts represent the different opinions about human relationships with the natural world that has Scotty has been collecting around town.
After squirming at his desk, Scotty needed to get out, and he invited us all to a rave in the woods. He and Amber had been exploring the pathways through the forest behind Shared Space, and found a remarkable spot with a fire pit on a sandy cliff, leading down to a river swimming hole.
All of his projects came together on Sunday, as Scotty debuted his dear carcass puppet, Quintus, in a performance covering his findings from the survey. Quintas mused that most humans want to be more closely connected to the natural world, or "Nay'tcha" as he called it, but they live and consume in a way that is rapidly destroying it.
Sunday was our last day of the season, and after a late night of slide talks, residents laid out in the summer night to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. Monday morning was all packing and good-bye's, and so many loose plans to see each other in the future. It's the end of our third summer season, and I can't imagine the residency being any more successful. I am so happy to have the amazing Mary Rothlisberger on board for more adventures next year.
This week in the studio has proved to be just as busy as the last, with new collaborations, events, and visitors. Everyday has been an adventure in our new team uniform- mandatory denim jackets.
Alex kicked into high gear on her last week in residency; defining her projects, finishing some and setting deadlines and parameters for ongoing ones. Inspired by her camp experience, Alex collected wool blankets and embroidered “Shared Space” on each one to dress our bunk house with. Along with a couple of full work days, she kept a sense of play and adventure in her daily practice- getting us out to the Newaygo County Fair to see the hog show early Tuesday morning. On the way home, we saw a sign for local peaches, and she picked them up to make another creation in her series of pies.
Her pie research took shape at the end of the week in a zine for our library, with poems and memories of the pies from other residents, and her own handwritten recipes. We talked about her practice as an archivist and documentarian, and brainstormed ways that this pie journal could develop over the course of a year, as she collects her friends’ feelings about her pies in writing. Alex also began another publication, a guide to the medicinal herbs and flowers found in our very own meadow, that she will finish off-site and send to us.
On her last night in town, Alex was the director for our first official episode of the Beach Cam Variety Show. On Tuesday, we went to the beach for sunset and started experimenting with the live-feed webcam that is always watching Pentwater beach. By Wednesday we had a plan to launch a week-long variety show with each episode being directed by a different resident artist or facilitator. We chose 8pm EST Thursday evening for our pilot episode, where we set up our dinner table in front of the camera, and broadcast ten-minute episodes on Friday and Saturday. Alex directed us in a mock-prom to the sounds of our local oldies station WEEH-FM, and Eliza dressed everyone in her handmade costumes to dance to an electro-remix of Enya. Passersby were curious and excited to join the fun, and we made friends with a group of kids that made our dance troop that much better.
Nick spent the week investigating Pentwater. With video camera in hand, he has been observing the world around him through interaction with people and technology. As the self-appointed Pentwater P.I. he has spent time snooping on people using the internet at the library at night; recorded what happens when you spin donuts in a gold jeep in the dirt; and made a short documentary about the wrestling match at the county fair and the relationship between co-facilitators Mary & Eliza. After our slide talk on Sunday, he borrowed six smart phones from our willing guests and conducted an experiment with GPS audio.
The group of residents this week turned out to be the most interested in preparing amazing foods together and for each other than any previous group. On the evening Nick signed up to make dinner for the crew, he gathered us in the kitchen, making a progressive five-course meal of sandwiches.
Scotty has also been collecting data. He chose to engage directly with the local population by designing a survey with questions about human relationships with the natural world. He took his surveys and a clip-board on three trips to two county fairs, the Pentwater farmer's market, our favorite bar, and the beach on a busy Sunday. He will approach anyone in public to collect their opinions, and asked everyone at the slide talk to fill out the survey as well. The questions are multiple choice and ask about interactions with nature and society, and he is attempting to collect 100 surveys. His ability to proposition people has lead to many interesting conversations with strangers, getting familiar with townspeople, visiting tourists, and fair vendors.
Scotty has also been working on constructing a puppet out of a deer carcass and a lawn chair- both found in the riverbed on a canoe trip. He got familiar with everyone in the studio by throwing a karaoke dance party on Saturday, complete with video projections and rum punch.
Amber settled in to the studio by surrounding herself with projects, materials from home, and dried wildflowers collected from the meadow. She brought a carload of possibilities with her from Canada, including a few small slip-casting molds that she is learning more about in our ceramics studio.
Amber's ongoing project back home, The Full Moon Choir, is designed to bring people of any singing ability together to perform a collection of moon inspired songs under a full moon. This recurring event brings people together and closer to rhythm of the earth by observing the cycles of the moon. Inspired by Mary's moon dune story in her Field Trip Field Guide, and an impending Super Moon, Amber decided to put on a choir event in the Silver Lake Dunes. After our slide talk on Sunday, at least a dozen people stayed to craft their own poncho out of a sail. Flowing and shimmering cloth was the dress code for the evening, and each participant received a song book and a candle. The caravan arrived at the state park entrance past midnight and climbed up the dunes in a moonlit sandscape. After a quiet procession and a grounding lead by Amber, we all stood in a circle and sang a moon round, gazing up at the Sturgeon Moon as it slipped in and out of cloud cover. Grand Rapids photographer, Carson Davis-Brown was there to document the event with a special low-light camera, and we are excited to see what he makes out of the footage.
Our weekly slide talk turned out to be an epic length. We started by screening a short film made by Nick the day before, and then launched into a double-projector chronological account of every residency program Mary and Eliza have been a part of. Our crowd for the event included our Pentwater regulars and guests from as far as Holland, Lansing, and Chicago. Grueling as it was to sit for four hours, the crowd was happy and inspired afterwards, with possibilities of new domestic residencies and road trip collaborations buzzing on everyone's mind. Mary's energetic influence on the residency program in her first summer as co-facilitator has been evident daily, and our celebration of her contributions was slightly bittersweet because she is leaving next Sunday morning and will miss our last talk of the season.
Our third week in action has been so busy with a big event and residents coming and going; we will have to take this recap one day at a time.
Monday was the big day at the Pentwater Farmers Market, shopping for our dinner party event, A Pleasant Evening. Alex bought cherries from the local Heeg Orchard, and Amanda collected vegetables from the two organic vendors, Vartian Farms and Liberty Farm. We have a great relationship with the couple that run Vartian Farms- they pick up our compost from the studio each week to feed to their chickens, and we love to buy their eggs and bread. This was a great chance to get to know the beautiful family that runs Liberty Family Farm and Bakery, and start another new relationship between locals and our visiting artists. We found out that they host farm-to-table meals and farm tours by donation, and made sure to spread the word to our friends and our dinner party guests.
With little time to spare, Amanda continued to work on her bowls, glazing and firing and opening the kiln to a few surprises along the way. Working in ceramics is often a guessing game, and at our studio Amanda is trying out different clays and glazes for the first time, and it is exciting to see how well they are working out. She gave everyone a chance to collaborate and try out the glazing process by setting up a station with glazes, brushes, and bisque-fired bowls. Each resident artist painted one of the larger bowls that will be serving bowls for cornbread at the dinner.
Alex got to work on her pie research, and took over the kitchen to make the first pie of her residency, a rhubarb pie with thick criss-cross crust, and berries from our meadow. At dinner we all tried out Amanda's bowls, fresh from the kiln, and filled them to the brims with Alex's pie.
On Tuesday the collaborations continued, as Alex and Natalie pitted six quarts of cherries by hand, and John and Elijah made music together. Elijah has been recording his Meadowtation songs with a field recorder in the meadow as he writes them, and this week he worked on rehearsing the songs for the concert, and playing with re-recording them with more instrumentation. John spent the afternoon making beats on his laptop for Elijah to experiment with, and they had some jam time with Elijah's instruments and looping pedals. After a trip to Pentwater's only art supply store, Ceasar's Pallette, John had new watercolor paper and origami paper to collage and paint with.
In the evening, the group split up, some to see the screening of Fire Walk With Me in Grand Rapids, and the others to check out the Comedy Night in Pentwater. The field trip to Grand Rapids was mostly in honor of Natalie's healthy obsession with the David Lynch TV series, Twin Peaks, and her beautiful screen prints she has made to honor the genius of the show. Fire Walk With Me is the prequel film that Lynch made after the TV series ended, and the dressed-up full-house crowd at the screening showed how many other people share Natalie's fascination.
After a late night with John, Amanda was inspired to work in collage too, designing quilt-pattern stars with a wall paper trim from one of our thrift store runs. It is great to have the big room activated in so many ways, as projects are spread out on the tables and floors; these guys are comfortable being hard at work day and night.
Wednesday was the big day, and Amanda and Alex spent most of it in the kitchen, preparing a vegetable stew, gluten-free cornbread, and three cherry pies for A Pleasant Evening. Each resident artist contributed to the event. John made a playlist for dinner, providing just the right ambient sounds from the soundtracks of Twin Peaks to The Sound of Music, and some other songs we smiled at upon recognizing. Natalie worked away at illustrating the lyrics of Elijah's new song, 'This Love', and made four drawings to give to dinner party guests. At each place setting, the guest had one lyric, so that they could connect with the people around them to build the song. Natalie and Elijah will continue to work on this project by mail, and come up with a zine together in the future.
Each place setting also had a post card from Alex's collection of vintage post cards, with a name on it, assigning a seat for each guest. We purposely sat strangers next to each other, dividing up couples and friends between the four tables, so that guests would meet new people and hash new conversation. The post cards had notes written on them from pen pals of the past, and stamps and postmarks from around the world- they proved to spark conversation before the soup was served. As guests lined up in the soup line, we snapped photos of them holding the bowls that they would take home that night, providing Amanda with the only documentation of the thirty bowls she finished while in residence.
The resident artists and admins were spread across the room as well, giving each table a unique arrangement of new friends. Instead of being waited on, dinner guests served themselves from the soup pot, passed the cornbread and butter, and washed their own dish in a dishwashing station. A spirit of generosity and affinity filled our space and we felt that it was a seminal moment for our studio and our relationship with the townspeople.
After everyone had finished dinner, we all picked up chairs and moved outside to watch Elijah play his new songs on the edge of the meadow where he had conceived them. The mood was magical and the crowd was all smiles as Elijah worked through his set. He played guitar, glockenspiel, loops on pedals, and sang, while John joined him with a shaker egg for a few numbers. The Meadowtations lyrics were reminiscent of traveling, longing, and scenes of the meadow in summer. By the last few songs, guests were dancing in the dusk.
Feeling very grateful, we returned in the studio to refill our bowls with Alex's cherry pie. The serving bowls painted by our residents were auctioned off, with the money going towards residency programming. With our showcase over, and our first session residents preparing to leave on Friday, we took the rest of the night off to spend time together, shooting group photos in the meadow and eating a second dessert at the local ice cream joint.
Thursday was the last day in the studio for our session one residents: Amanda, Elijah, John, and Natalie. The studio was busy with cleaning up, finishing and documenting projects, in anticipation of an epic afternoon field trip with Mary. Amanda deconstructed her outdoor pottery studio, Natalie continued her steady practice of drawing, John burned CDs for his box set of Shared Space Studio working mixes, and Elijah finished and installed his patchwork flag in the meadow.
The flag is visible from our parking lot, even from the chairs Elijah often sits in at the front of our building. It announces something to those who are entering the meadow path. Mirroring the contrast of bold colors in the plants surrounding it, the flag hangs like a regal banner, in appreciation of our two crumbling birch trees and the shelf mushrooms holding them up. I am excited to see this flag hanging in the stark wintertime meadow.
While Elijah finished his meadow projects and packed his car to head home to Idaho, Mary took the other residents to our favorite natural wonder in the region, the Silver Lake Dunes. After climbing the steep dune, a long hike took the artists all the way through the dune forest to the Lake Michigan shore. Part of what makes Shared Space such a special place to be is the surrounding landscape of West Michigan. We are always excited to bring a resident artist to the beach or the dunes for the first time, and marvel at our inland ocean. This hardworking crew had a mini-vacation.
Friday was the day we said goodbye to session one residents and said hello to session three residents. Alex, our session two resident, is staying with us another week and gets the opportunity to meet and work with all seven of the other artists. We spent the early part of the day having exit interviews with the departing residents, asking for their feedback and offering our own. Elijah left early morning to go play a show in Chicago on his way home. Amanda installed two of her bowls that had broken bottoms on a stump in the woods; the bowls sing like bells when hit with a twisted ceramic wand. Natalie prepared for her bus ride, leaving us with some of her beautiful prints. John stayed until after dinner, taking time to document all of the paintings and collages he made here. We talked about ways to maintain his practice once returning home, and how the productive energy of a residency can fuel future projects and inspire life changes like quitting a job or setting up a designated painting space at home.
On Friday, our three new residents slowly trickled in, Scotty Slade Wagner arriving at a nearby pick-up point after six days in a canoe, Nick Lally rolling up on his bike that he rode here from Madison WI, and Amber Phelps-Bondaroff joined us early Saturday morning after a grueling road trip from Saskatchewan, Canada. We didn't let them rest for long, because Saturday was an epic field trip day for the whole gang.
Our first stop was lunch at the best dang restaurant in Oceana County- the eatery in the back of La Probadita, a Mexican market in the neighboring town of Hart. We indulged in tacos and sodas before going across the street to our favorite thrift store, Vintage Rose. The next stop was the historical house of our local hero, Swift Lathers. We spent some time reading through copies of the worlds smallest newspaper, Mears Newz, and appreciating the museum's collection of antique domestic appliances. Then we were off again, headed to visit our new friend at Liberty Family Farms. At this haven of animal and plant abundance, our crew discovered a collective enchantment for observing pigs. We watched the handsome swine bathing in mud while Alex collected fresh green tomatoes for a pie.
Our last stop was the grocery store, to stock up for the week. We did all of that and made it home in time to shoot hoops, have a delicious family dinner, and go to Pentwater beach for our first sunset together.
Sunday was another bustling work day at the studio, with new residents settling in and exploring their surroundings. Scotty joined us and our weekly crew of Grand Rapids friends at the beach; he brought a sculpture project to work on, involving a deer carcass he found on his canoe trip and some yarn. Amber and Nick rode bikes into town to check out the Pentwater library and coffee shop. Alex and her trusty assistant Nickey prepared a sweet green tomato pie to serve at the slide talk. This was the third pie creation by Alex this week, in case you are keeping track.
Our fourth slide talk of the series was maybe the best yet. We had a great crowd of returning friends, and excited first-timers. As we explore the towns around us, we are always inviting those we meet to come to the slide talks- the one day of the week when we open to the public and celebrate our residents together. During Alex's talk, she brought up the struggle she has identifying herself as an artist. The Q&A afterwards brought everyone into the conversation about what it means to be an artist. The audience's response left Alex feeling validated and supported in her practice of creating experiences for her loved ones and documenting the lives of her friends. Everyone had a slice of her pie at the intermission, and stayed for Nick's lecture. Nick explained his definition of hacking- a process of learning a system and then changing key elements within that system to make a new experience. With his tech-heavy projects, he is often working with imaging research and he hacks both computer programs and social situations. Everyone in attendance decided that Nick is a genius.
Our second week in action, and so much has happened. Our four residents solidified as a group this week, beginning to collaborate, exploring the town town of Pentwater, learning from each other, and preparing for our showcase event, A Pleasant Evening.
Each day we spent long hours in the studio, quietly working on projects, laughing really really loud, making plans and hashing out ideas, and sharing a meal together at dinner.
On Wednesday, we had our first weekly meeting of Drawing Club, where we all met in the classroom, and drew whatever the heck we wanted for a few hours. We held a contest to draw the new banner for our website, and Mary was the big winner. She is doing amazing work giving our website a makeover.
Natalie continued to spend long hours at the drawing desk, making good use of the times she broke away from it with trips to the beach and the thrift stores and the Pentwater library. She has been through every book in our studio library, scouring it for interesting photographs to draw in her style of collaged-together imagery; with collected things coming together in one composition that tells us a story that is still kind of a mystery. She also picks up objects from around the studio to draw and add to her sketchbook archive of illustrations.
Her contribution to A Pleasant Evening will be illustrations of each line of one of Eijah's meadow songs. She was inspired by our field trip to the Shelby Gem Factory on Saturday, and has promised to draw a portrait of Larry, the gem scientist, and one of his man-made gemstones.
Natalie also knocked our socks off at the impromptu pizza-eating contest during our field trip to local curiosity, Country Dairy, and their all-you-can-eat/drink pizza and chocolate milk buffet.
Amanda made several kiln-loads of work this week, finishing a stack of bowls to bisque fire and starting on glaze tests in the evenings while she threw more bowls in her outdoor studio during sunny hours. Early on Saturday Amanda gave our group a lesson in pottery. She taught us how to wedge our clay, center it on the wheel, and control and coax the wet clay into a hollow form. We have two wheels at the studio, that have never been used there, so it was very empowering to have them both set up and everyone giving it a try.
Monday morning, Amanda visited the Pentwater farmer's market for the first time, introducing herself to the local organic farmers and making plans for the dinner she will serve in her bowls at A Pleasant Evening.
This week, Elijah maintained his daily practices; keeping a dream journal, writing one song and one poem daily, and shooting 100 free throws in the late afternoons. Tallying his misses and makes has shown that he shoots hoops like the pros. With 55% on his very worst day, several days hovering around 70%, and 79% on his best day, Elijah steps up to the free throw line with a precise routine of bouncing and shooting and counting. For a person with injuries and chronic pain, this is an endourance piece. It is a meditation, repetitive and pointed, a daily challenge in which Elijah learns about himself and how me moves in the world.
With time-based and ephemeral works, Elijah documents his findings in three small journals; he is also leaving his mark on our space in permanent and visible ways. He measured out and painted the lines on our parking lot asphalt, to turn it into a proper half-court. And he began a new project in the meadow with two dying birch trees. He has wrapped and braced them and is making a patchwork flag that will be hung from the brace he rigged up. He has also set up a few more zones around the studio this week- a painting zone on the classroom wall, and a recording zone where he is working out the music for his Meadowtations songs. He records the songs in the meadow, then again in the studio, and will make another more finished recording when he is back home. We are hoping he will leave us with a CD for our zine library and are looking forward to his concert in the meadow.
Alexandra Difiglia was our exciting new arrival on Saturday afternoon, joining us from Grand Rapids, MI. After her orientation tour, we spent the rest of the day field-tripping, so she had a chance to play before she got to work. Her plans are to make a pie every other day; research postcard correspondence between Pentwater tourists and their friends and families back home; and make blankets for the resident bunks- just like summer camp.
This is our third summer residency, but it is the first time I have seen fruit on the trees and the brambles in the meadow. It is serendipitous that we have a pie-maker in residence, and mulberries, thimbleberries, raspberries, blackberries, and chokecherries growing out back.
At our weekly slide talk on Sunday, Amanda and John presented their work to a receptive crowd. We once again had guests come from Grand Rapids for the talk, three car-fulls this time, and visiting friends helped John bleach his hair for the special occasion. John spent the week working on watercolor paintings, collages, a sculpture sketch with sticks and string, and piecing together playlists to share with the studio. John also spent a lot of time making us giggle.
In his slide talk John shared work from college, and more recent explorations in paint, drawing, collage, video, and sound. He is always representing light and dark, the good and evil that are in everything; and working intuitively, he doesn't feel pressed to over-explain his art. We all got it.
For his community project, John DJ-ed a dance party for everyone after the slide talk. Our friend Mike was in attendance and they had some time to jam on a keyboard. John's freedom to work on whatever comes to him, day and night, is an inspiring force at the studio. Our group of residents have been so studious that they forget to make dinner. They have been flexible and engaged, and have brought out the best in our workspace. With our first group leaving this week, there is so much more to do.
Our next slide talk is tomorrow, and we are so excited to present two of our resident artists, John and Amanda.
John Alexander Holland was born in Interlochen, MI, a small town in between two lakes. He graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy where his parents taught music and he studied drawing, painting and photography. He went on to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he studied Installation, sound, drawing, painting, mixed media collage and photography.
In 2006 he formed the group, SALEM with Heather Pineda and Jack Donoghue. The group was known for its innovative sound, combining trap style beats with dark droning guitars and keyboards. SALEM toured Europe, the US, and played shows all over the world.
He is currently living in Traverse City, MI and is putting out a book under the name 2SPIRIT with Heather Pineda of their combined photography. _ John will share some of his earlier work, recent video work, and the paintings he has been making at Shared Space.
Amanda Jayne Kennedy studied sculpture at Kansas City Art institute, in Kansas City Missouri, and received her BFA from the California College of the Arts and Crafts, in Oakland, California. With experience as an assistant for many large-scale sculptural projects as well as meticulous projects in wood and clay, her work draws on the practice of fine craft. Her careful and skilled hand meet a found-object DIY aesthetic, to make a unique combination in materials from fabric to driftwood to plastic refuse.
In the past year, Amanda has revived an interest in pottery, and is fine-tuning her throwing technique daily at the studio. Part of her creative practice is teaching others, and we are looking forward to learning more from her talk.
Our 2014 Resident Artist Season is underway. We have four resident artists that have brought the studio to life in the past few days, and we are looking forward to the fun increasing at an exponential rate.
After a long day for everyone, Mary and I welcomed three weary travelers to Pentwater, and their first dinner at Shared Space Studio. With the Field Trip Field Guide in hand, they toured the building and the town and watched the sunset over Lake Michigan from the end of the pier.
This is our first summer housing the resident artists at the studio, and it feels like an important step towards our future plans. Residents can easily work day and night, and take responsibility for the space as their home.
Amanda Kennedy came to us from Oakland, California, and got right to work the first night, setting up her outdoor pottery studio. With 200 lbs of clay to work with, Amanda has spent each day throwing pots on the wheel in the shade. With two weeks at the studio, she plans to throw as many bowls as she can, fire and glaze fire them, and use them to serve guests at the community dinner party she will co-host at the studio next week. A Pleasant Evening will be a social event showcasing our residents' work, including Amanda's pots, Elijah's songs, and Alex's pies. Each guest will bring home their bowl to keep, and all of the food will be sourced from small local farms. Amanda wants to celebrate the personal interactions that happen between vendors and shoppers at farm markets, and between strangers sharing a meal together. The title of the event is in reference to A Pleasant Afternoon, an annual celebration of the infamous one-page newspaper, Mears Newz, in our neighboring town of Mears. Our past residents have been fascinated and inspired by the author of this paper, local historical hero Swift Lathers, so it seems fitting to honor his influence once again at Shared Space.
Natalie Woodlock, originally Australian, but joining us from New Orleans, is using her residency time to go back to an illustration project that has been hibernating for the last year and a half. She is drawing one drawing for every one or two sentences of a short story written by Elyza Touzeau, titled At World's End. The black and white drawings are thick with imagery, as her interpretation of each sentence expands the written word; abstracting and embellishing the course of the story.
She has settled in to her desk and spent the greater part of each day going over source material and the earlier drawings for the book, and mapping out new images. Natalie also advocates for daily beach trips, nudging the other residents get out of the studio for a quick dip.
Elijah Jensen-Lindsey, from Nampa Idaho, has taken on a slew of projects, setting up work zones around the studio, inside and out. We found him Saturday morning, playing a glockenspiel that he wedged between two trees in the meadow. He offers the metallophone zone to anyone wishing to make a prayer or a song, or call out in bell tones to the rest of the meadow. Elijah is writing one song each day, a series of 'Meadowtations' that he will perform for the guests at A Pleasant Evening. He is also writing a poem each day, and a little desk and chair have popped up outside to serve as the poem zone. In the little sew zone Elijah sews photographs to poems he types out by typewriter, and binds the handmade books he is writing in.
Elijah is also spending time in the hoop zone, perfecting his free-throws.
Each day he shoots 100 free-throws from the 3-point line, and tallies hits and misses. Each tally is converted into a percentage score, and he is aiming for the 100% perfect day.
On our trip to the hardware store, Elijah bought some supplies to paint the parking lot with yellow lines, mapping out a regulation-size basketball court (or at least half of one). He also has begun accumulating wood and wooden objects to build a permanent percussion instrument between the two pines for future residents and meadow wanderers.
Our fourth resident, John Alexander Holland, joined us Sunday afternoon, just in time to help us set up for the weekly slide talk. We are glad to have him here, working at a desk piled high with source materials for drawings and collage. He rounds out our group as he and Natalie work at their desks and he and Elijah collaborate in the meadow. A dedicated DJ and sound-maker, John has already made one mixed CD for our zine library, and we know there are more on the way. A Northern Michigan native, John is ready to go swimming, day or night.
Sunday evening, we had our first slide talk of the summer season featuring a pair of resident artists. Our Pentwater regulars showed up, as well as a few new faces and a full car-load of artist friends from Grand Rapids.
Elijah showed images of his paintings, installation, and photographs from his life. He reminded us of the thin line between life and death, between meaning and meaningless. He told us we are all here on earth with a chance to live a creative life, to make things. He played a meadow song and projected plans for the new hoop court.
Natalie wowed the crowd with her video, combining stop-motion animation and Super 8 film. She shared several collaborative and craft-intensive projects, including her Love Letters Anonymous project, where she has collected found and submitted love letters, in original, copied, and read-out-loud formats. She set up a beautiful merch table with her screen-printed zines and posters, celebrating such cherished subjects as Dolly Parton, Twin Peaks, and gemstones.
After the talk, and another slow sunset, our residents got to know our guests from Grand Rapids. As we gathered round the campfire, we felt the more the merrier, out in the dark meadow. Rose Beerhorst, a resident artist from last summer, and Ryan Greaves, Mary's collaborator on the Cabin Time residency, were among the group, and we hope to have many returning guests this year. This is truly a shared space.
Today is the big day! Our first four resident artists arrive this evening, just in time for dinner, having traveled from Oakland CA, New Orleans LA, Boise ID, and Traverse City MI. We have already had an epic weekend at the studio last week, with a sunny beach meeting, a total studio makeover, and our first slide talk of the season.
Karen West, a traveling nature photographer, has been "camping" at Shared Space this summer and last, in her little red trailer. Her and her partner live out of the trailer, criss-crossing the country to document the splendors of our National Parks and National Monuments. She mad us laugh, and made us gasp, with her presentation this past Sunday. Her passion and knowledge of the American landscape is evident in her work, but hearing her funny stories and reflective writing really brought her portfolio to life. Learn more about her here: www.karenewestphotography.com
Once we get started, we just can't stop, so for the next five Sundays, we are hosting slide talks every week. This Sunday, we present two resident artists, Elijah Jensen-Lindsey and Natalie Woodlock.
Natalie is currently working on a set of collector cards that showcase 50 North American and Australian-based circus, burlesque and sideshow performers, for which she received an Australia Council for the Arts Young and Emerging Skills and Arts Development grant. Referencing similar cards in circulation in the early 1900s that featured legendary freak acts from the worlds of sideshow and the midway, these swap cards aim to showcase the contemporary “freak” acts from the revived traditions of circus, burlesque and sideshow, whose acts transgress current notions of gender identity, ideals of physical beauty and critique notions of the ‘exotic’ and ‘other’. In 2008 she completed the collaborative project 52 Pick Up, a deck of truck stop-themed playing cards that featured 54 roadside-themed pin-up photographs of Sydney-based burlesque, circus and performance artists.
She is also currently working on the forthcoming 70-page illustrated story At World's End. This story is set inside a mental institution in the 1940s and explores the real and imaginary worlds of one patient. It is a collaboration with writer Elyza Touzeau.
Elijah will be joining us at the end of his summer tour from Idaho to Michigan, performing as one of his many musical and artistic guises, With Child.
As Elijah approaches a subject, his materials change drastically. Each new installation, song, collage, and painting is another attempt at communication through yet another language. Elijah has been a creative organizer of events in his community for years, and in the last few years has continually shown new work at exhibitions in his hometown and beyond, received NEA funding for his projects, and taken on running a collective art space. This will be his first residency and we are so excited to see what he does.
Amber Phelps Bondaroff // Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Amber Phelps Bondaroff is a maker, a mover and spatial navigator. Digging deeply into small yet significant details of surrounding environments, she sculpts situations that enable acts of shared making and being. Working across various disciplines, Amber has strong inclinations towards found and re-used textiles; re-sewing and weaving them with equal parts performance, baking, map making, drawing, moving image and sound.
Scott Slade Wagner // Oakland, CA and Roscommon, MI
Scotty Slade is a human artist.
"Making art is a practice that helps me connect with my ancient life blood and converse with other humans about our dissociation from the natural world. Performance and interactive installation art have been the most fruitful and rewarding manifestations of my practice. My work seeks to channel and expound upon the inherent meanings of or within the mediums through which the artwork is created. "
Nick Lally // Oakland, CA
Nick Lally is an artist and computer programmer interested in digital media, collaboration, participation, radical political theory, mathematics, education, space, and bicycles. He lives and works in Oakland, California.
Alex Difiglia // Grand Rapids MI
alexandra difiglia is a student of the art of preservation. using jars, cameras, words, printing presses and butter to capture that floating on air full of gold feeling. to save it until midwinter. to crack open over a game of cribbage.
she wants to see you when you wake up in the morning. to hand you a cup of black coffee and listen to you tell stories until the sun has risen enough to go swimming.
she is a student of pattern and the magic that lies in its discovery. conducting sociological research and potlucks to discover how communities intersect and the ways in which strangers transform into soul mates. to sew it all into a quilt. to place over a freshly made bed.
she wants to pour it into a butter crust and bake it at 350 degrees for forty-five minutes. to see the juices blather over the lattice top and not allow it to cool so that the ice cream melts in pools as it touches the first slice.
Amanda Jayne Kennedy // Oakland CA
Drawing inspiration from the natural world and the impact of the Human Experience upon that world, Amanda Kennedy creates sculptures, collages, interactive installations, and vessels. The rich abundance of cultural influences found in Oakland have been influencing Amanda's practice for the past 12 years. She uses reclaimed materials and enjoys fostering inspiration in others.
John Alexander Holland // Traverse City MI
John was born and raised in Interlochen, MI, studying drawing, painting and photography at Interlochen Arts Academy, and went on to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to work in installation, sound, drawing, painting, mixed media collage and photography.
As a teenager, John began recording music with an audio 4-track tape recorder, experimenting with different sounds and textures. In 2006 he formed the group, SALEM with Heather Pineda and Jack Donoghue. He now DJ's under the name, JOHN THE BAPTISTE. His DJ sets are less about dancing and more like performances. He creates altered video components corresponding with the music, creating a non linear audio/visual narrative, or "Sound Collage".
The countdown to our summer residency has begun! In three-and-a-half weeks we will welcome our first session of artists, and will thereafter have folks coming and going every week. With eight amazing artists to brag about, I'm sharing their work here two at a time:
Elijah Jensen-Lindsey / / Nampa, ID
Elijah produces what comes to him, in the form of music, paintings, useful and un-useful objects, bookshelves, editorial comics, sculptural installations, applique tee-shirts, and pieces of mail. He moves easily from one genre to the next and each one seems to suit him.
He once said:
"Everything, when stripped of the hustle of progress, the impenetrable vomit of commerce, and the raggedy poncho of religion and politics, is excruciatingly beautiful."
Natalie Woodlock / / New Orleans, LA
Natalie's art practice encompasses stop motion animation, photography, archiving and collecting, and installation and performance. Her work explores themes of memory, personal connection to place, the intersections between old and new medias and mediums, and the relationship between live performance and its archival document, the photograph.
Named one of Australia’s "50 Most Uncollectible Artists", Natalie’s work has been exhibited and screened internationally.
A whole new summer of visiting artists, collaborations, campfires, beach days, slide talks, and who the heck knows what else is just around the corner. Our residency will be twice as strong this year as Mary Rothlisberger joins us as Co-Facilitator and Field Trip Captain. Once again, eight resident artists from across the country (and Canada) will come and go, overlapping and intermingling for a little over four weeks.
Here is our amazing upcoming crew:
July 18th thru August 1st
Natalie Woodlock / cargocollective.com/cakeladyworld / New Orleans, LA
Elijah Jensen-Lindsey / elijahjensenlindsey.com / Nampa, ID
John Alexander Holland / alexander-holland.tumblr.com / Traverse City, MI
Amanda Jayne Kennedy / amandajaynekennedy.com / Oakland, CA
July 25th thru August 8th
Alex Difiglia // www.sparrowcat.com / Grand Rapids, MI
August 1st thru August 18th
Scott Slade Wagner / scottyslade.com / Oakland, CA and Roscommon, MI
Amber Phelps Bondaroff / amberpb.weebly.com / Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Nick Lally / nicklally.com / Oakland, CA
WE DID IT! With two fun-tastic resident artists, and one special guest, we finished up the 2013 residency season with style.
The studio was very, very busy this week, with multiple projects and preparations for our bug fundraising bazaar on Saturday.
We crossed our fingers and fired the kiln three times this week- finishing the project that Sarah Applebaum had left us instructions for. Her ceramic rocks are now installed in the fire pit- the larger ones filling the ring of stones that marks the pit, and a dozen small blue pieces mixed in with the white stones she used to border the pit. The pale blue glaze reflects the color of our fading picnic table, and the summer sky.
It was a great week to promote our event and our residency program, as were so honored to be on the cover of the local magazine, Pentwater This Week. After an interview with contributor Mary Beth Crain, she wrote an article that covered all of our studio's hopes, dreams, and realities. She also decided to teach a writing workshop at Shared Space and be a speaker at our slide talk series, after our resident artist who was scheduled to talk had to cancel last-minute.
We were joined mid-week by resident-coffee-roaster / joke-teller / master pot-holder weaver Mike Johnston. He worked in the studio on a giant pot-holder, helped document the resident's adventures, and brought green coffee all the way from Oakland, California to roast at our event. We gathered a pop-corn popper, a hot pot, a metal strainer, a french press, and a grinder to set him up at the same table as our bake sale. He brewed small batches of coffee that he had roasted the night before to sell by the cup, and gave roasting demonstrations to curious visitors. In his down-time, Mike contributed his marker drawings to collaborative necklaces for our sale.
Jeffrey Kricksciun made impressive work in his third week in residence. Experimenting with clay, he made small sculptures and a series of pins for our fundraising sale. This was his first time glazing ceramics, and after an evening of careful painting, we were surprised to open the kiln and see what colors had fluxed out. The experience left him with a newfound interest in ceramics, and left us with a few of his pieces for our sculpture garden and collection.
Jeff also spent time this week coming up with face-paint ideas and designing a watercolor flash for his booth. He worked in the "FUN ZONE" tent with Aliya, painting faces for kids and adults all afternoon. Face painting was another first for Jeff, but I knew that with his tattooing and painting experience, he would be a natural.
With drawings and photographs from the last three weeks in residence, Jeff compiled and printed his newest zines. great froot is a zine dedicated to his time at Shared Space; it contains collages and distorted images of Homecoming fireworks, his tattooed grapefruits, the campfire, and cards he painted for friends around the world. The other zine he finished here, Dipped In Zen, contains mostly illustrations and will be published by Museums Press in Glasgow this fall.
Jeff also had the brilliant last-minute idea to make a second edition of MIRRORS NEWZ, a site-specific newpaper that 2012 resident artist Josh Kermiet made with contributions from the other residents last summer. Jeff and Josh are partners in publishing the Portland-based newspaper FREE SPIRIT NEWS, and we were very happy to have Jeff continue the tradition of compiling musings and doodles from the Shared Space crew to anthologize our Michigan times.
Savory blueberry snowmen, in two variations.
Power-Sewer, Power-Chef, Power-Person Aliya Bonar had a whirlwind week of work and play at the studio. She has a special knack for making a dish out of anything and everything she can find in the fridge, and she demonstrated her creative cooking this week- from smorgasbord group dinners to being the star of the fundraising bake sale. I was also grateful that she woke me up Wednesday morning to catch yoga class on the beach at Lake Michigan.
In the studio, Aliya set out to make a series of Powersuits for her to wear while managing her upcoming Powersuit Boutique in New York next week. In a temporary installation, Aliya and her collaborator will be making personalized garments, as they "specialize in extracting your most ambitious plans and translating them into a tangible garment you can wear now."
Each day, her wardrobe expanded, with tube tops, gowns, drop-crotch pants, and high-waisted skirts, in neons and wild prints. I introduced Aliya to a rotary cutter and my serger machine, and she took off.
Aliya was also a shining star at our fundraising bazaar, contributing a crafty crown-making station, and issuing artistic licenses to visitors. The event was really well attended, with artists and crafters selling their goods and supplies, and musicians keeping up the pace for all of us working in the sun and shade. Aliya made specialized crowns for each of us; using supplies from the free pile, she made sure that no one was without flair.
Mary Beth Crain reading to the crowd
We were sad to say goodbye to Jeff and Aliya on Sunday morning, thus concluding the season of resident artists. Luckily, we had one last blast with our final Sunday Slide Talk of the year, featuring two of our new teaching artists. The talk was attended by our Sunday regulars, as well as a few new friends, and no one left unaffected. Coincidentally, painter Ann Beeching and writer Mary Beth Crain both had stories of animals affecting their lives at important times. They both spoke about making art with love and honesty, and finding that artistic course that is true to your purpose in the world, and affects others in a valuable way. Ann's slide talk educated us about spiritual art practices of a variety of cultures, and showcased her detailed paintings of people with their spirit animals. Mary Beth shared the story of her successful writing career in LA, as she went from an interviewer to a novelist, and everywhere in between. Reading from her best-selling book of memoirs and her local weekly column, she had us all laughing and crying. It was an inviting sneak-peek into the workshops Ann and Mary Beth will teach at Shared Space in September and October. It was also an encouraging way to end the season, as we felt truly touched by the sincerity of the presentations, and guests left telling us they couldn't wait for to the visiting artist programming to start again next year.
Another week of first-times and creative tangents at Shared Space Studio...
Our 2012 Resident Artist, master-composter / film-maker / radical geographer Amanda Matles, came to visit us for the weekend. She got in some beach time and admired the compost system she set up for us last year, as it is running smoothly. She also was reunited with our new resident Brian Perkins, whom she graduated from high school with at Interlochen Arts Academy, back in 2000. On a sunny afternoon, the artists sat out on the knit blanket Elodie Goupil made us last year, and Jeff gave Amanda and Brian matching tattoos- the first and second bars of music from a Bauhaus composition by Heinrich Siegfried Bormann.
Aside from getting his first tattoo ever, Brian was a busy man this week. Upon his arrival, he set out to write an outline for a new screenplay in ten days- he finished it in eight. Brian used a set of Swedish film stills from the 60's and 70's as inspiration for a story about a missing dog. He spent his mornings hand writing in a small book as the story came to him, and when he finished, he typed the text and formatted it into a small book. Inspired by some very particular record cover art, Brian sponge-painted paper in red and yellow, and cut out images to paste to the grey cover. The piece is called Musical Chairs, based on the idea that the actors in the beginning play a game of musical chairs to decide what part they will play- reflecting the roles we are given in life. At his slide talk on Sunday, Brian explained in depth the process of shooting a film, and how the accesibility and cost of the medium has changed drastically in the relatively short time he has been working. He showed us projects he has written, directed, and made animations for, and screened a rough cut of his current project- his first feature film. Before he left to go home to Seattle, he made a big impression by bravely riding The Zipper at the county fair, and pouring his heart out on mic at our studio Karaoke party.
Jeffrey Kriksciun was hard at work in the studio this week, finishing the drawings for a zine that will be published in Glasgow, and a zine that he will publish himself here for the new Zine Library. Between sessions of carefully drawing out illustrations in pencil, then just as carefully inking them in, Jeff played with clay in the ceramics room, making small sculptures of a face, a pair of pants, and a cinder block with an orange on it. It seems that Jeff's facinations and sense of humor come through in every material he works with, and he will work with anything.
Rose Beerhorst continued quilting and crocheting during her last week in residence. She taught me how to cut up old shirts and crochet them into a rug, using Fair Isle patterning in an intuitive style. I ended up with a crocheted basket and a whole list of new projects in my head. She made a rug for Brian to take back to Seattle with him, in only black, white, and grey as he requested. After staying with us for over three weeks, Rose left early Monday morning with Brian to go home to Grand Rapids. We are lucky to have her come back this Saturday, to sell her rugs and other crafts at our fundraising event- Art, Goods, and Goodies.
Power-resident Aliya Bonar arrived on Friday, just in time to get oriented and spend her first evening at the Oceana County Fair riding the ferris wheel. This is Aliya's first time in Michigan, she comes to us from Queens, NY, where she is part of the art co-operative Flux Factory.
As a Florida native, Aliya is on a beach mission, and it has been balmy enough to make a few trips. She gave our audience a chance to interact with her slide talk on Sunday, asking us all to fill out a nametag describing our ideal selves. She shared her work with Powersuits, the outfit you will wear to be your most powerful self. As a buisiness lady, Aliya loves organizing communities and laying out elaborate spreadsheets, and she has recently been involved in youth programs in New York, teaching self-empowered sewing and radical fashion design.
The stars of the studio show off at our studio Karaoke night.
Aliya is a great edition to the studio, and will be our last arriving resident, as our planned eighth resident, Amber Phelps-Bondaroff had to cancel. We hope Amber will join us next year.
With one week left, Jeff and Aliya are the big stars of the studio. We are excited to see their projects come to fruition and collaborate with them on our upcoming fundraising event.
Once again, we are happy to introduce two stellar resident artists who will wow us with their work this Sunday, August 25th, at 6pm:
Brian Perkins is a filmmaker who finds himself living in Seattle, Washington after studying experimental film at School of Visual Arts in New York, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has directed music videos, shorts, animations, and most recently his first feature film.
His online project, The Watching Patch, is the moniker for projects influenced by 1920's Eastern European photo-montage and 1970's American children's books and television programming. His collaborators are in Seattle, Milwaukee, and New York City. Brian produces, writes, directs, and designs the artwork on the site; has hosted his web series here; and maintains a blog that chronicles his process and current projects.
Brian arrived on August 16th, and has already received his first ever tattoo, watched sunset at the beach, and written over half of the outline for a new screenplay. He will be at Shared Space through August 26th.
Aliya Bonar is an artist, community organizer and event producer based in New York City. Her art engages individuals - their bodies, their stories, their memories, their human-ness - to explore how we interact and engage inside of an increasingly branded, technological, and orchestrated world. She has worked with Creative Time, Flux Factory, Elsewhere Collaborative, The Wassaic Project, the Laundromat Project, and the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute to teach workshops and produce events that engage everyday people in making authentic connections.
Aliya's interactive installations and events are exaggerated versions of vaguely familiar worlds. They invite viewers to step outside of reality and share beyond normal limitations and rules. Her work mixes silly and serious, universal and individual, domestic and public to produce hot-pink and glitter-encrusted business meetings and power suits. With earnest juxtapositions of the personal and professional, she enables viewers to become participants and try on new ways of connecting – like trying on a sharply tailored, handmade suit. Aliya's work asks what your most courageous self would do, say, and wear. The “PowerSuit” your most courageous self wears is a personal talisman, relating to your body and history. It is a reminder of your biggest dreams.
Aliya arrives August 23rd and will be in residence with us through September 1st.
Shared Space offers visiting artists and artists-in-residence facilities and support in a secluded and beautiful setting with the chance to meet and exchange with other artists as well as the responsibility of engaging the local community.