'Magnolia,' homage to S.C., opening at FAC

BY IVY MOORE ivym@theitem.com

The Bassett Gallery at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County in Camden will present "Magnolia," an art exhibition by Jen Pepper, opening with a 6-7:30 p.m. reception on Friday. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Pepper splits her time between Sumter and Central New York, where she is an associate professor of art at Cazenovia College and director of the college's art gallery.

She holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from The Maryland Institute College of Art and a master of fine arts degree from The University of Connecticut. Pepper has exhibited nationally and internationally in 22 solo exhibitions to date and has participated in more than 60 group exhibitions since 1990. Her work has been shown in international and national venues including the UK, Japan, Canada, New York City and other gallery and museums throughout the U.S. including the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y., The Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute, The Herbert J. Johnson Museum and many others.

In addition, she has been the recipient of many grants and awards, including The National Endowment for the Humanities, New York State Council on the Arts, New York State Foundation for the Arts, Astraea National Visual Artist fellow (NYC) and The Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. She has been invited to and has participated in numerous national and international residencies, and her work is included in many private and public collections, including those of Paul J. Schupf in New York, the National Gallery of Macedonia, Foundation Valparaiso, Alermia, Spain, Casa Museo Solaina de PiloÑo, Galicia, Spain, and others. Her work can also be found in the private homes of many S.C. collectors.

Pepper titled her tribute to South Carolina "Magnolia," she said, "Because it's a flower from the South, and it seems to change its form in the seasons. I love how the tree grows and spreads out like an umbrella, sheltering. I love its seed pods, many of which I've taken into my classrooms for my students to draw. I've also cast them in aluminum. And of course, they don't grow in the North."

Pepper first visited South Carolina when she was curated into Sumter Accessibility 2003 and has since spent many weeks here each year, including eight long, hot summers.

In her artist's statement, Pepper wrote: "My work explores the intersection between language and the body and their interaction with the physical and emotional environment."

That is a large part of her attraction to South Carolina, as she explained Thursday.

"First of all I love the light here it's incredibly clear and crisp," she said. "It really is a lot like the light in Spain, where I was when I got the call to Sumter (Accessibility 2003). But I also like the incredible storms, how the weather changes, the extremes the heat and torrential rains. The sunsets and cloud formations are magnificent. Another thing that inspires me is the smell of wet dirt, kind of dank. The color here is as if solid to sculpt, and people's gardens are amazing."

Pepper said she enjoys the summer, moving from cold, air-conditioned interiors to hot, wet pavement after a summer shower.

"It's a steam bath," she said. "I love the contrasts, and that translates into my work. The bugs here, the birds, the sounds of the cicadas. "Besides the nature side, I love the sense of commitment to community; and many people that were acquaintances in 2003 have become good friends, and really, family."

Pepper is also intrigued by the history of the area. "I wondered why there seem to be so many ghosts in the South, and a friend told me 'It's because we love our ancestors.' You can really feel the history.

"For me those are poignant issues, and I take those experiences back to my work." The physical act of drawing reflects her experiences, as well. "I do a lot of drawing with wet material (mainly ink) ù because of the fluidity ù on very heavy rag paper that absorbs it, kind of the way the body absorbs these experiences and feelings," she said. "So a lot of the mixed media pieces in the show are about these experiences, like 'Sound of Cicadas,' 'Steam" and "Swell.' All the work in the show is inspired by my time in the South." While Magnolia includes ink work, Pepper has returned to watercolor and gouache.

"The gouache is opaque watercolor, and I like the density of it because it feels very sculptural," she said. "Watercolor is very clean and sharp, pure." Quilting, which Pepper was introduced to two years ago, is also an influence for this show. "I think of color as almost a solid form," she said. "I come from a family of stitchers, and when I was a child I used to go into the fabric store and hide between bolts of fabric. My introduction to the quilting experience by (Sumter's) Barbara Reich ... I think of quilting as painting with blocks of color." The Bassett Gallery at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County presents "Magnolia," an exhibition by Jen Pepper opening with a reception from 6-7:30 p.m. Friday. The public is invited to attend, and there is no charge for admission. The exhibition continues through Feb. 29 during regular gallery hours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and weekends by appointment. The FAC is located at 810 Lyttleton St., at the corner of York Street in Camden. To get to the FAC, take US 521 North into Camden, at the first traffic light turn right onto York Street, go two blocks to Lyttleton and turn left. The FAC is on the immediate right. For more information call (803) 425-7676, or visit the website www.fineartscenter.org.


CNY Magazine March/April 2011

"A Way with Words; visual artist Jen Pepper molds and shapes language," profile text by Katherine Rushworth, photos by Michelle Gabel, The Good Life, Central New York Magazine, March/April 2011, illus. p.139-148 © 2011 The Post-Standard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of The Post-Standard


Review Sculpture magazine MARCH 2011

Review in Sculpture magazine, March 2011, Vol. 30 No.2, a publication of the International Sculpture Center, Washington, D.C. p. 68-69 illustrated. Hover on post title to activate URL


Weir Farm Artist In Residence Jen Pepper presents her work

WILTON PATCH . Ridgefield, CT
by Audra Carbone June 2, 2010
Jen Pepper's mother was a weaver and her father was a sports writer. Somehow, that has translated into her role as Weir Farm's Artist in Residence.

"The word that comes to mind is translation," said Pepper. While she was referring to her current exhibition at the Wilton Library, she might as well have been referencing her past.

Pepper discussed her artistic career during her exhibition/reception titled Translations at the Wilton Library last Thursday. A small, intimate group gathered to view slides of her work and listen to her tales of her fascinating life as an artist, especially how she spent her time creating in the studio at Weir Farm. Pepper spent two weeks at Weir Farm and the reception was the debut of her work there.

The Wilton Library works in conjunction with Weir Farm, hosting each Artist in Residence's exhibition. There are 12 artists picked each year to live and create in the studio at the farm.

"The studio is their private domain, which is our pledge to them," explained Weir Farm's Interim Executive Director Janice Hess. "And the reception is when they put their art on display."

Pepper's slide show, which incorporated poignant quotes and photographs of her art, was titled Translations because her work is based on how she responds to changes in the earth. She is also very connected to her parents, both of whom have passed, yet she keeps them alive by weaving them into her art.

"My mother was an amazing stitcher," Pepper explained.

Mother and daughter once collectively created an artistic piece together while her father worked as a sports writer.

"What I am excited about is blending language and knitting, riddles and conundrum," she said of her artistic muses. "When I see crochet lines, I think of it as writing sentences."

As a child she received a loom from her parents and although she has been a painter and sculpter throughout her career, weaving has consistently showed up in her work in one way or another. Creating woven pieces often made her feel as though she was looming pages of a book.

In conjunction with weaving, which Pepper does with the tip of a paintbrush or a crochet hook, cowhide, steel and watercolor also play an important role in her art.

"I use materials that I feel are necessary for the work," she explained.

At Weir Farm, Pepper tooled pieces of cowhide and paintings, but first she utilized the serenity of the space and spent time contemplating life.

"For the first couple days I just thought," she explained.

When she began to hear the tree-frogs, or peepers as some Wiltonians know them, it inspired the artist to create a painting of what they sound like. The painting was debuted at the exhibition.

Pepper left Weir Farm for other artistic adventures on May 31 and felt her time spent at the historic farm was a wonderful gift.

"It has been a tremendous experience," Pepper stated.

Jen Pepper's artwork and schedule can be viewed at www.jenpepper.com.


Artist in Residence @ WEIR FARM ART CENTER . CT

The Daily Norwalk . WILTON & NORWALK . CT
by Alissa Letkowski MAY 24 . 2010

The Weir Farm Art Center has been running the "Artist in Residence" program since 1998, but is currently hosting its first artist since renovations to the new art studio were completed, according to Superintendent Linda Cook.

The newest artist is Jen Pepper, who describes her work as conceptual, fabulous and for sale. She works with a variety of mediums, including leather and carvings. Her newest artistic goal is "trying to capture things you cannot hold, like fleeting time, fleeting memories and clouds," said Pepper, whose favorite thing about Weir Farm is the peace and quiet. She works without radio or wireless internet to keep out the distractions.

Pepper, a Toronto-born associate professor of art and design at Cazenovia College, arrived Sunday at the farm. While most artists in residence stay for a month, Pepper will only be there for two weeks due to previous commitments.

Artists may apply to work and live on the farm for a period of one month free of charge, according to Cook. The farm typically hosts 12 artists each year, but did not hold the program for about five months while they added onto the existing barn with attached garage.

"The new studio will enable the program to evolve and will position the center to more fully participate in regional and national art arenas and to offer more art programs to the community," according to the art center website.

Cook believes having an artist living and painting on the site immensely benefits the historic site. "Having an artist in residence keeps the tradition of using this site to inspire art," she said. "It's like, I want to come and paint where Weir painted."

"I love to go to places that have history to them. There's like a spirit in the land," said Pepper. "This was a property that was not only owned and prized by artists, but art was a big part of the landscape."

Since the program's birth, 115 visual artists have taken advantage of the opportunity from all over the United States, Tunisia, Germany, Australia, India and the Netherlands, according to the website. Although only 12 artists are selected, Cook estimates that between 600 and 800 artists visit the grounds to capture the rolling fields and historic stone walls every year.

The art center reports that of the almost 391 National Park Service sites, Weir Farm is one of the two parks dedicated to art.


New Everson exhibits grows out of Impressionists

image: “Bird in Arras VII” byTIM SCOTT is part of the new exhibit at the Everson Museum of Art called “The Sixties: When Colour was Sculpture" in Robineau Gallery: JEN PEPPER: that which cannot be held

“New Everson exhibits grows out of Impressionists,” published in The Post-Standard newspaper, Sunday, February 07, 2010 Syracuse, NY by contributing columnist Steven Kern, Director, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY

Impressionism, a subject that dominated this column from September through December last year, offers the perfect transition into two exhibitions that have just opened at the Everson Museum of Art.

“The Sixties: When Colour was Sculpture” features six monumental acrylic and steel sculptures by British artist Tim Scott.

Cazenovia artist Jen Pepper has mounted a site-specific installation called “that which cannot be held,” the first exhibition of “The Edge of Art: New York State Artists Series.” Like the Impressionists, who sought to expand the definition of painting in the 1870s, Scott and Pepper boldly redefine painting and drawing respectively with their work.

The effects of light and shadow, line and color were a preoccupation with artists like Monet and Cezanne. In the generations that followed the two French masters, artists made full use of the aesthetic and intellectual advances made by the Impressionists as they continued to test the boundaries of materials, technique and inspiration. In the 1960s, for the Color Field painters in the Everson collection such as Helen Frankenthaler and Jules Olitski, color itself became a subject.

Olitski, for example, wanted his paintings to make the viewer feel that he or she was walking into color. Carefully balanced masses and tonalities are expressed in three dimensions in Scott’s work, with color extending, quite literally, into space. A walk around the monumental sculptures reveals subtleties and surprises, as color and space lock together only to break apart, as movement is caught in suspended animation, and as steel and acrylic seem to defy gravity.

If Tim Scott’s sculpture from late 1960s can be interpreted as painting in three dimensions, so can Jen Pepper’s installation be viewed as a drawing in space. Inspired by the landscape, Pepper’s installation sets out to celebrate constant transformation and, like Monet’s landscapes, to capture the fleeting moment.

With a video backdrop of a thaw at Chittenango Falls, elaborate mesh sculpture, itself a dazzling work of almost two miles of finger-crocheted galvanized cable, projects a shadow drawing of no lesser significance. Just as Tim Scott’s color palette is exhilarating, Jen Pepper’s monochromatic image is sensational.

“Tim Scott — The Sixties: When Color was Sculpture,” organized by David Mirvish, Toronto, will remain on view through April 11. Jen Pepper’s “that which cannot be held” remains on view through April 4.

Steven Kern is director of the Everson Museum of Art.


@ STREAM - Sculpture Int'l magazine

Sculpture magazine – NOV 2005 Washington, D.C. Vol. 24 No. 9, p. 73 illustrated review by Ivy Moore
“Stream,” Jennifer Pepper’s
installation in Chapman Cultural Center Gallery (2005) continues the artist’s career-long exploration of the connection between language and the physical body. The stream in Pepper’s work here holds many meanings for viewers, challenging us to use all of our own consciousness to take it in completely. Built with two levels, the Central New York gallery seems ideal for this exhibition, but it is Pepper’s use of the space that actually makes it work – walking in on the higher level, you are quickly drawn to the aquatic blue lettering around the wall at the foot level, which is above your head once you descend to the lower floor, much as you would walk beneath the surface of a body of water. The lettering ripples like the surface of a lake as it quotes Meret Oppenheim, in both French and English, announcing that Il y a d’excellents jets sous ce paysage – There are excellent streams beneath this landscape (1933). And indeed, once below the landscape, there is excellence in abundance, as the viewer allows his or her own stream of consciousness free rein.
Pepper’s principal “stream” is an eruption of an undulating curtain of small, connected steel rings, raised slightly off the floor. Its texture and implied movement suggest birthing and growth. The ground-like color of the floor suggests a riverbed, and the steel form an actual stream – the source of life – as well as a strong suggestion of evolution of language and the human form. The emergence of the shining stream also suggests the birth and ever-evolving process of language.
Fertility and growth are echoed in the black sunflower seeds muting the white I-beam that transects the open space – the implied surface – between levels of the gallery. The beam is also representative of land, and it is interrupted by a twisting, blue cord that descends from it to riverbed level. Close examination reveals the cord is actually Pepper’s artist’s statement, crocheted in nylon and dipped in cerulean blue rubber, suggesting that language is man’s rope ladder up the evolutionary scale. Pepper’s use of found materials is ingenious. The viewer is struck by the clean lines of the entire installation, so that each element stands alone, yet melds cohesively with the next and the work as a whole.

On the walls, enlarged digital prints of pages from books, “Field Notes of Engineering Students (1925-1937),” exercises in physical measurement, re-emphasize the terrain of the earth and the geography of language. Where Pepper has incorporated found words and phrases in her past work, here the integration of entire pages invites the viewer to contemplate the geology of the area, measure it, contemplate its importance. Words become landscape, become homo sapiens, and the two meet harmoniously. Indeed, in Pepper’s hands, words and phrases become concrete building blocks of humankind and our world. Language, whether written, spoken or visual, takes physical form.

A brain-like helmet of cowry shells, with its rounded bumps and crevices, came from West Africa , near the supposed origin of man. As such, it evokes memory of primitive beliefs, thought processes and value systems, as the shells were used as currency by several tribes. The crown-like headwear, probably having been worn by a chief, implies power.
Pepper has always been interested in words as a physical manifestation of the human being’s connection to his or her environment. In Stream, that physicality extends the connection to the scientific process of evolution – birth, rebirth – from the mere seed of an idea represented by the oily, black sunflower seeds. The fecundity of ideas is precise, almost resembling a museum exhibit. Could evolution be so clean as the field notes suggest?
“Measure the distance between two points, both of which are inaccessible,” one assignment reads. Pepper invites the viewer to do the same. She leaves an abundance of clear space to suggest there is much room for human progress.
The germinative power of language, the necessity of the stream, ever bursting outward, reminds us of the complementary nature of language and ideas, each changing the other in humankind’s march forward. The stream is a constant reminder of movement, yet does not allow us to forget our connection to source.
Stream presents an opportunity to literally and figuratively get inside Pepper’s work and experience it as we would a landscape, as the current apex of evolution, a setting that not just invites, but lures the viewer in, makes us think and consider our own place in the stream."

@ the object + beyond: concrete poetry at its finest

The Object and Beyond
by Dufort, Jon, “The Object and Beyond,” Syracuse New Times AUG 13, 2008 Syracuse, NY, illustrated

Local artists submitting work to the Everson Biennial were asked to perform some mental gymnastics. The show, juried by independent curator Edward Winkleman, was organized around the theme of The Object and Beyond. The challenge was to create art that somehow perverts everyday expectations of objects, going “beyond” them. Critics bored of asking “Is it art?” can now argue about the definition of an object.

On location: Images of upstate can be inferred from Amy Bartell’s “Next”, Emily Fleisher’s vinyl and paper “Cow Pile” and Sarah McCoubrey’s “Another Quality Project: Building Lot” (top of article).

Rene Magritte played a similar game in his 1928 painting “The Treachery of Images.” That’s the one where he paints a pipe, then scrawls below it “This is not a pipe” in French (Ceci n’est pas une pipe). Each of the 55 artists selected for the biennial addressed this philosophical problem in their own way.
Some turned ugly objects of our throwaway culture into highbrow art. Maire Kennedy’s towers of Styrofoam bowls, stacked rim to rim, resemble enormous augers in “Awl.” This impression is reinforced by their placement adjacent to Everson architect I.M. Pei’s corkscrewing stairwell. Another of her works, “Soon,” is a careful arrangement of spooning plastic spoons. Seen from a balcony, individual spoons disappear, subsumed into a pattern of radiating circles like a bleached coral reef.
Erin Lyden Murphy stapled a plain old power cord to the wall in a pattern that evokes the elegant abstract forms of “Flowers from William Morris.” Jen Gandee takes little hats from stuffed clowns and encases them in clay to make “Many Gears” that, alas, fail to mesh.
The title of Thomas Gokey’s work fully explains the reverse alchemy he attempts: “Total Amount of Money Rendered to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Exchange for a Masters of Fine Arts Degree, Pulped into Four Sheets of Paper.” The optimistic sale price of the piece, $49,893, equals the amount of mutilated currency that went into its generation.
Working in the fourth dimension, time, proved an effective strategy. Audio/video equipment makes it a piece of cake to focus on experience rather than physical presence. Yvonne Buchanan’s “Slippage” resembles a color field painting thrown into motion. It’s spliced together from thin strips of panning footage. No discernable objects here, only vertigo.
Three tall windows frame Sandra Stephens’ “Escape,” a much more soothing video loop. Wispy clouds float in a blue sky, the odd bird wheels in and out of the picture.
An artist referring to himself as Bravo created a work with no physical presence at all. His audio piece, created with the assistance of inmates in a maximum security prison, is only accessible by dialing a number on your cell phone.

Art objects are often placeholders for some “real” thing. Rather than represent another “thing” a few artists alluded to complex patterns of thought. Richard Metzgar’s arcane diagrams combine photographs, looping paths and textual data to record his urban explorations. Jen Pepper linked up a matrix of cheap plastic plaques with fine gold chains. The plaques are engraved with evocative non sequiturs like “BLACKENED HALOS,” “BROKEN ENGLISH” and “IMAGE PULLED FLAT.” They trickle down from the playful title plaque, “PAINTINGS PICTURED HERE.” It’s concrete poetry at its finest.
Jeff Allen combines strategies in his mixed media piece, “Connecting.” The video component is an intense collage: A vivid view of a snail oozing along, men rowing a large boat, the skin getting pulled from a deer like a wet latex glove. Allen built a viewing environment that heightens the weirdness. The video plays on a flat screen hanging high on the wall of a shellacked metal shack. Saplings yanked from the ground, roots and all, hang from its ceiling. Shiny brown paint makes them look like giant neurons sculpted from glazed clay.

@ Made to Order

photo by Carrie Will

Made to Order
Mellor, Carl, “Made to Order,” Syracuse New Times, AUG 13, 2008 Syracuse, NY
Made in New York 2008,
currently on display at Auburn’s Schweinfurth Memorial Art Gallery, continues to evolve from year to year and to operate without a set artistic agenda. The 2007 edition had many more photographs than other recent shows, and that generated some controversy. Nonetheless, that wasn’t a structural change but a one-time phenomenon.

The new exhibition, selected by jurors John McQueen and Jen Pepper, has its own imprint, with special attention paid to landscapes. Landscapes, it should be noted, have certainly appeared in past Made in New York shows. The 2008 show, however, presents a much richer selection, done in various media and from varying perspectives. It’s possible for viewers to appreciate not only individual landscapes but also a larger discussion of the art-world favorite.

Jennifer Hunold’s acrylic and graphite piece, for example, depicts a desert setting including a large expanse of sky, tiny telephone lines and desert sands of colorful stripes. In Jessica Evett-Miller’s photo, taken in Iceland, a red blanket intrudes on desolate land, prompting thoughts about our relationship with the natural world.

Edward Basta’s “Mike’s Country Auto” imagines a roadside scene from 40 or 50 years ago. The piece, done in miniature and positioned against a wooded background, was made entirely from found objects such as scraps of wood and toy-set signs. “Mike’s Country Auto” evokes the past but isn’t an exercise in reminiscing. It references the pace of change in our society and asks a fundamental question: How much attention do we pay to changes happening on roadsides and elsewhere?

"Butterfly Harp" by Sara DiDonato.

Other perspectives emerge as well. Barbara Page’s oil painting, “Down Draft H2,” looks at a sprawling countryside from the viewpoint of a flyer, showing the geometry of land seen from a cockpit.

Kate Timm, meanwhile, travels no farther than her home. In another of her exterior/interior pieces, she juxtaposes a kitchen table, full of tomato sandwiches, potato chips, plants and other objects, with the scene outside. She embellishes and enhances the objects on the table, making them seem anything but ordinary.

@ The Object & Beyond

2008 Everson Biennial: The Object and Beyond
Sunday, June 08, 2008
By Melinda Johnson
Arts editor
For 30 hours, Edward Winkleman pored over multiple slides of artwork and videos of 266 artists from Central New York vying for inclusion in the Everson Biennial 2008.

Winkleman, director of the Winkleman Gallery in New York City, served as a one-man jury.

He winnowed the works in mediums ranging from paintings, video installations, sculpture, photographs, origami and more to designate 55 artists for the show, titled "The Object and Beyond," at the Everson Museum of Art. The show will open Saturday.

Winkleman was struck by the "incredible bounty of high-quality work," he said in a phone interview from his Chelsea gallery.

He also was surprised by the "brilliant sense of humor" in the submissions.

"I saw it more than I expected," he said.

Winkleman surmised that biennial shows attract artists interested in trying something new. It was obvious to him that the artists embraced the opportunity to engage the public and start a dialogue.

He cited several examples: the shadowy stack of cows above a milk carton, the bark-like texture of a ceramic teapot and a portable Irish pub in a trailer.

Debora Ryan, senior curator at Everson Museum of Art, attributed the variety of submissions to the "Object and Beyond" theme.

"The theme was meant to be wide open and more inclusionary than exclusive. So we were hoping to encourage artists who don't typically apply to the biennial, who work in different media that they may not think it's appropriate to apply for," she said.

From juror Edward Winkleman

An excerpt from essay by Edward Winkleman, juror for "The Object and Beyond: 2008 Biennial."

"The theme for the 2008 Everson Biennial, 'The Object and Beyond,' embodies the rich diversity of talented artists working in Central New York. Indeed, the variety of media represented in the exhibition from a broad range of sculpture and painting to bookmaking and performance, from textiles, ceramics and large-scale installations to video, audio, and interactive multimedia confirms the notion in this era of pluralistic practice that contemporary artists are communicating with nearly every means available to them.

"Long-established fine art genres are presented as evidence of their lasting and powerful ability to capture the imagination of both artists and viewers, as are works that transcend traditional crafts to present new ways of thinking about materials and process. New media works are included as well, as evidence that artists continue to push beyond the boundaries of what we expect or think we know about art, about life, and most of all about ourselves."...

@ Art that defines a community

@ Brooklyn Spice

Brooklyn Spice
by Paul Laster

Feed Gallery
Jennifer Pepper
Crochet the Edges of a Room
at Feed

Brooklyn is a complete universe unto itself. Artists aged 20 to 80 show in a variety of gallery spaces in three prime art neighborhoods -- Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo and Williamsburg. But where Manhattan’s art districts are thoroughly mapped, Brooklyn is still terra incognito. Herewith, a guide.
Brooklyn Heights
The elegant tree-lined streets of Brooklyn Heights are nestled between a world-famous East River promenade overlooking Manhattan's skyline and Cadman Plaza with its courthouse and government buildings. Right in the middle of it all, located in a sleekly architected ground-floor space in a 16-story brick office building, is the Rotunda Gallery. Brooklyn's oldest contemporary gallery launched its 18th season with "Chronologies," an exhibition of seven artists whose works explore the passage and measure of time.

And what better way to mark time than with crochet? Icelandic artist Hildur Bjarnadottir crocheted a large, table-top-sized doily ringed with 3-D skulls made of string. She also takes adult-sized clothes and washes and dries them until they shrink to fit a five year old. Is this a reversion to childhood, or a rebellion against grown-up chores?

Oliver Herring, perhaps better known for his life-size figures knit out of mylar strips (and exhibited at Max Protetch Gallery in Manhattan), here presents a 90-second stop-action animation on laser disc. Herring's wacky dance joyfully captures the time an artist spends in his studio. A series of 27 photos by Anna Theresa Peña of her brother Victor are both cinematic and enchanting. Brainard Carey's Foot Washing Project, a mixed-medium work done with Delia Bajo, offers free hugs, foot washing and Band-Aids every Friday to members of the public. It takes time, but the reward is worth the effort.

Time, and plenty of it, is what you need to view the 400 works by as many artists in "Size Matters" at GAle GAtes et al in Dumbo, the funky warehouse district located "down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass." A sprawling, ground-floor storefront gallery in a large industrial building, the orthographically irregular GAle GAtes turned its space over to curator Mike Weiss, who asked artists (including myself) to submit a work in an identical 24 by 24 inch format.

This show could be subtitled "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly." On the good end are abstract paintings by Giles Lyons, Matt Magee, Maureen McQuillan, Tina Marie Poulin, Giovanni Garcia-Fenech and Danny Simmons; pop paintings by Donald Baechler, Cadence Giersbach, Todd Kancar, Jason Middlebrook, Kenny Scharf and Jenny Scobel; photo works by Karen King, Daniel Mirer and Bill Orcutt; collages by Tom Moody and Katherine Powers; digital prints by Claire Corey and Hanneke van Velzen; sculptures by John Dewey and Dana Lowy; and an ambient sound piece by David Abir.

One particularly compelling video installation by Maureen Connor is entitled Time Matters. Connor constructed two shelves, the lower one holding books like Fear of Fifty, Get What You Deserve, Bouncing Back and On Death and Dying and the upper one a clock with hands and a video monitor that displays footage of stars like Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Clark Gable and Elizabeth Taylor. Incredibly, the Hollywood legends first age then morph into one another to the ticking of time. It's a mesmerizing statement on life and death.

As for the ugly, a standout in this category, placed on what could be read as a wall of rejects, is an oversized flowershaped cushion with a stain in the center. It's Mike Asente's Baby Disney Asshole, an intentionally nasty sculpture that is part of the series that was also seen at the Williamsburg gallery Art Moving.

Down the block is Smack Mellon Studios, a gallery behind a crumbling, two-story brick façade that opens up inside to a vast, wood-beamed warehouse space that used to be a spice factory (and smells like it). On view is "Natural Histories," a group show of work by 10 artists. In the basement is a spooky installation by Maureen Connor. Hanging from the ceiling is a living room suite, complete with slippers, by David Baskin -- it's a partial re-creation of his grandfather's apartment.

Mira Schor installed a 36-foot-long wall drawing, in which the words "sexual" and "sublimate" are fragmented and repeated. The battered paper hangs on the wall like human flesh with its veins and bruises. Beth B's large digital prints, irregularly sized and placed on a rough brick wall, represent dreams and memories of actual places and events. One shows the blurred image of a fox; another the grille of an abandoned car deep in the forest.

In a separate gallery, Tim Spelios placed 200 found pieces of metallic debris along a wall-mounted "horizon line" of magnetic bars that wraps around the room. He gathered the ods and ends near the highway that cuts through his Brooklyn neighborhood. In the center of the space is a set of tables and benches holding notebooks with photos of the objects and pages on which viewers can write their comments.

Brooklyn's liveliest and largest art district is Williamsburg, a mixed neighborhood with areas of warehouses and industrial buildings and streets of wood-frame houses and brick tenement buildings. At Leo Koenig Inc., the fare is (for once) contemporary masters -- as Leo and venerable dealer John Weber swapped spaces and esthetic visions for their opening exhibitions of the season.

In Koenig's rough brick space, Alighiero e Boetti's Nothing to See, Nothing to Hide leans against a wall, a Minimalist glass and steel window sculpture that was in the artist's first solo show at Gian Enzo Sperone in Turin in 1969. Slightly opposite this icon of conceptual art is the pared-down beauty of Daniel Buren's orange and white striped Painting in 5 Parts, a contemporary delight from 1971. Other works at Koenig include drawings by Boetti, Hamish Fulton and Sol LeWitt, photo works by Fulton, Hans Haacke and Michael Heizer, a wall sculpture by LeWitt and a two-channel video by Victor Burgin.

Koenig adds his own spice to this mix by displaying recent works by Javier Tellez in the back room. A young Venezuelan who's gaining international attention, Tellez presents a madly inspired view of conceptual art by representing some of its best examples with witty treatments. His somewhat smaller version of the Boetti in the front room has a hole in one of its glass panes, presumably caused by the baseball that lies on the floor. Nothing but the cans remain of Impatient Collector, a group of gallon sized re-creations of Piero Manzoni's famous Merde d'Artiste. The enigmatic contents seem to have been hastily consumed and the actual artwork discarded like waste in the corner.

Back in Manhattan, Koenig has supplied some of his freshest faces to Weber's gallery on West 20th Street in Chelsea, including works by Aidas Bareikas, Sara Braman and Erik Parker.

Arguably the center of the Williamsburg scene is Momenta Art, whose Madison Avenue-style storefront gives campy class to the brick studio building on Berry Street. Pass through that front door and enter the "World of Disney" -- the adult parody version, that is -- via an installation by Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz. Displayed in boutique niches are beautifully crafted "Disney Adult Products," a lurid selection including Disney Lights cigarettes, Disney Vodka, Minniepax Tampons, King Donald Cigars, and Disdoms-brand condoms. Once Martin and Munoz have hooked you in their ironic game, toying with your desire to regain a security blanket from childhood, they frustrate you like adults often do. Money in hand, eager to make a purchase, you discover that "nothing is for sale!"

If it's art you're looking to buy, you may have difficulty finding it in "Qwork," an almost invisible exhibition of drawings and wall sculptures by four women artists at Feed. Organized by Kathleen McShane, an assistant to Sol LeWitt, the show is a subtle visual treat that plays hide and seek with the viewer. By the entrance is a striking work by Elana Herzog, a whirling pinwheel of plastic and staples made right on the wall. Along another wall M.M. Lum has hung strips of newspaper headlines -- actually obituary headlines -- running from ceiling to floor. It's called The End of Work.

McShane's own work, called These, covers still another wall. It's an orderly grid of large sheets of white paper that have cutout, irregular holes with their edges flopping and drooping, suggestive of puffy clouds or cartoon characters . All of the quirk-work here blends neatly with the surroundings, but perhaps none more so than Jennifer Pepper's Crochet the Edges of a Room. Occupying the borders of walls -- some that are blank -- her off-white needlework is playfully punctuated with bits of yellow that quietly say, "I'm here!"
In an industrial section of Williamsburg is Roebling Hall, a clean white space presenting the first solo show of kinetic sculptor David Opdyke. A kind of mechanical alchemist, Opdyke makes 3-D assemblages from materials you find at the hardware store. Some motorized works rotate cylinders inscribed with various words that put a new spin on phrases like President Clinton's infamous "That depends upon what the meaning of 'is' is." Opdyke has a large wheeled "gazebo" of metal panels, steel piping and reconfigured Donald Duck vinyl stickers. Superlative Seascape and Arbor Day use miniature model trees and programmed lighting to fabricate mini-island paradises in which the artist is the giver of light. One of the largest works in the show, Mirage, functions like a power plant supplying energy and imaginary water to fake flowers encased in plastic boxes. It's a life support system for something that's already dead.

Strange occurrences are also commonplace in the the dreamlike paintings of Amy Cutler at Eyewash, a gallery housed in a tenement apartment on North 7th Street. Fire Bed shows a young child sitting in a bed of flames; Bathroom depicts a network of fixtures and pipes without walls; and Thirst presents a one legged armless girl with her head tilted back and a pint of vodka halfway down her throat. Cutler delicately renders her subjects in a naive, almost storybook manner, as if they were tales from folklore. She painted most of these works during her residency at Skowhegan this past summer.

One of Williamsburg's most enticing spaces is Galapagos Art and Performance Space, a bar fronted with an elegant reflecting pool. On view in the adjacent gallery are new highway paintings by Jane Dickson. Inspired by a midwestern childhood and a recent trip out west, this formidable painter has a haunting vision of life on the road that continues her 20-year pursuit of the "ominous underside of contemporary culture." Painted with oil on astroturf on what look like wide screens, four large landscapes contrast stillness with motion. This series, entitled "Out of Here," is cinematic in spirit -- an effect that's heightened by the gallery's theatrical lighting and the slow driving beat of Derek Brown's accompanying soundtrack. Seeing these paintings reminded me of my first viewing of her work at the "Times Square Show" in 1980. There's a vitality in the roots of this artist that's reflected in today's young artists exhibiting Brooklyn's galleries.

"Chronologies," through Oct. 23 at the Rotunda Gallery, 33 Clinton Street, Brooklyn Heights. Tu-F 12-5. Sa 11-4. (718) 875-4047.

"Size Matters," through Dec. 11, at GAle GAtes et al, 37 Main Street, Dumbo. W-Su 12-6. (718) 522-4597.

"Natural Histories," through Nov. 7, at Smack Mellon Studios, 56 Water Street, Dumbo. F-Su 12-6. (718) 237-8904.

"The John Weber Project," through Oct. 18 at Leo Koenig, Inc., 138 Bayad Street, Williamsburg. Th-M 12-7. (718) 387-6388.

"Walter Martin & Paloma Munoz," through Oct. 18 at Momenta Art, 72 Berry Street, Williamsburg. F-M 12-6. (718) 218-8058.

"Qwork," through Nov. 3 at Feed, 173A North 3rd Street, Williamsburg. S&S 1-6. (718) 486-8992.

"David Opdyke," through Oct. 31 at Roebling Hall, 390 Wythe Street, Williamsburg. Sa-M 12-6. (718) 599-5352.

"Amy Cutler," through Oct. 18 at Eyewash, 145 North 7th Street, Williamsburg. Sa-M 1-6. (718) 387-2714.

"Jane Dickson," through Oct. 21 at Galapagos, 70 North 6th Street, Williamsburg. Tu-Sa 6-11pm. (718) 782-5188.

PAUL LASTER is an artist living in Brooklyn.

@ Wunderkammers: a community builds

Students work with N.Y. artist to create ‘cabinets of wonder’

Jen Pepper
Students made vitrines from Mason jars during the Accessibility art project titled “Wunderkammers — Community Builds: Community Collects.’

Item Features Editor
ivym@theitem.com DEC.07.08

Why do we collect? What is it about great-grandmother’s ancient china tea set that gives us a feeling of comfort and pride? Those sharks teeth you found at the beach over the years aren’t worth much money, perhaps, but their value — that’s another story.

And it is value, the personal and moving meaning of things collected, that inspired artist Jen Pepper to teach and direct the project, “Wunderkammers — Community Builds: Community Collects,” for Sumter Accessibility 2008, working with art students at Sumter High School. The project will culminate with an installation exhibition at Patriot Hall, opening with a public reception Friday from 5-6:30 p.m. The installation can be seen through Jan. 22.

Wunderkammers, Pepper explained, also known as chambres des merveilles and cabinets of curiosities, were the first museums. They are collections of various arrays of items contained in a box, or room or, in the case of the Accessibility project, boxes actually made by the students themselves.

She pointed out that wunderkammers have contained everything from flora and fauna to anatomical oddities and maps of far-off lands and have “in many respects ... served as precursors of our natural history and cultural museums.” She cited P.T. Barnum’s American Museum, unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1865, as one of the most famous examples.

Funded by the Sumter County Cultural Commission, the project’s intent, according to Executive Director Booth Chilcutt, was to connect the students with a professional artist in a more intimate way than is normally available to them. He said Pepper’s proposal excited him from the start, not only for its subject, but for the manner in which the artist worked with the students.

Jen Pepper
Sumter High School art students work on their projects with New York artist Jen Pepper during Sumter Accessibility 2008. Their work will be on exibit at Patriot Hall through Jan. 22.
“The whole thing is to enhance the art education of local students,” he said. “This project gives them a richer perspective on the purpose and power of art. Accessibility has always had a strong educational component. Through that element, we have been able to get accomplished professional artists like Jen to share their visions.”

Pepper, a New York-based artist and associate professor of art at Cazenovia College, who has exhibited worldwide in solo and group shows, spent five weeks with the visual arts students, introducing them to the “history of collecting, using our earliest museums as a springboard,” she said.

The students and Pepper began with discussing “what people can do with found objects,” she said. That led to “inspiring them to imagine an idea and then to put it in material form. A lot of the projects were based around the concept of an object or process as metaphor with the idea of gathering, collecting and caring for (objects) as an outlet to present their unique voices. Another challenge was to have them work together — some of the projects were collaborative, others were independent. (The goal) over the five-week period was to allow them to see how a concept can evolve and have a life and go further than what they might have imagined or experienced — the evolution of an idea.”

The project started with two-dimensional images in the form of collages.

Photos courtesy Jen Pepper From left, Kelsey Healey, Asantewaa Boateng and Neha Sharma pose with their wunderkammer, which illustrates locations of high school international baccalaureate programs around the world. The three are IB students at Sumter High.
Pepper started the students with the collages, “because it was immediate, the parameters of the (2-D collages) were very straightforward and simple — just to find images of similar forms. That got them out of the idea of what people think of when they think of a collage. Sometimes they’ll gather images of things they just really like, and this took them out of that subjectivity and put them into more of a formal analysis. They just had to deal with the composition, and that allows for greater creativity.”

Having to work with forms that “had to match up” with something and looking at the formal elements was a new experience, she said. “Once they started moving things around and allowing for the organization of the picture plane, they got excited.”

The excitement continued throughout the project, Pepper said.

From the collages, the students moved on to make vitrines (a glass showcase or cabinet especially for displaying fine wares or specimens) in large Mason jars and their individual and cooperative wunderkammers — or cabinets of curiosities.

The Mason jars, when filled with objects selected by the students, “... could be considered like a museum cabinet — or even like a snowdome.”

The autobiographical boxes — the actual wunderkammers — are the centerpieces of the project, Pepper said.

Jen Pepper
Christopher Davis’ wunderkammer, created during Sumter Accessibility 2008, can be seen in the installation opening at Patriot Hall on Friday.
“They had to construct the box, and I wanted them to think about these as small rooms or ‘worlds of wonder’, like the collages,” she said. “They were then going to be not only the architects of (the cabinets), but also the designers. And this was a way in which they were going to announce themselves without putting themselves in the box. A lot of them created these worlds of memory or some of them ‘fantastic’ boxes — fantasies. They put the background on the walls of the box and then built on that, constructing a world by layering objects within it.”

Junior Jovan Wells’ wunderkammer represents his interest in “the glitz and glamour of life,” he said.

Shelby Kruger said she found it “really exciting working with Ms. Pepper. I’ve never worked with an actual artist before.”

The wunderkammer concept really appealed to her she said, “because it’s abstract, but it still has a purpose and a theme.”

Her theme was based on the concept that “They’re all supposed to be about ourselves,” Kruger said, “but it tells it without being point-blank right up on it.”

She planned to incorporate photographs of friends and family and other objects that are meaningful to her.

“I’ve spent a lot of time on this, and I do plan to save it,” she said. “Art will always be a part of my life.”

Pepper selected Kruger’s collage, “The Effects of the Media,” for the cover of the exhibition catalog.

Pepper said the students became so involved in their projects, “it kind of became difficult to get them to stop. It was like giving someone an open suitcase and saying ‘What do you need?’ and not putting a time limit on it. They were excited about those.”

The artist said she was very happy with the students’ involvement and their creations.

“We did quite a bit of work, and just getting to know the students was a great experience. I think they really benefited from it. A lot of them really took flight, especially being able to put things together like that with found materials and the collages and boxes.”

In addition, “the photojournalism students worked on the idea of their own landscape,” Pepper said. “When I introduced that project to them, they thought about the usual landscape outside, but I said, ‘Think about miniature landscapes, like the top of your bureau — whatever we have on our bureau says a lot about us, how we arrange those objects and care for them.”

Pepper was surprised and very pleased at how much the students got done, and she’s excited that the public will be able to view their work in the exhibition that opens Friday evening.

She is also gratified, she said, that the Sumter County Cultural Commission continues to recognize “the importance of bringing professional artists into the community and for us to work side by side with students.”

Chilcutt said he has seen the work produced by the students Pepper worked with, “and it’s fantastic, just amazing. I’m anxious for the public to see it.”

An underlying purpose of the project was to lead students into realizing their potential, not just as artists, but as people, by looking within and calling attention to small things, Pepper explained, “to allow the smallest of things to have importance, the importance of the everyday.

“I hope down the road — these ideas of caring for one’s artwork, the importance of the everyday — that they realize they’re part of the greater context of the world, that one small thing has loads of meaning.”

Wunderkammers — Community Builds: Community Collects will open with a reception from 5-6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12, in the Mezzanine Gallery at Patriot Hall. Admission is free, and the public is invited. For more information, call (803) 436-2260. To see a copy of the project catalog created by Jen Pepper, visit the Web site www.blurb.org and search for “Sumter.”


@ Chrome on a Bumper Crop

Madison Co. Centerpiece, Oct. 20, 2007
Posted by Frank Ordonez October 19, 2007 6:02PM

Five-year-old Maeve Potteiger leaps across a pumpkin patch at Critz Farms in Cazenovia where Cazenovia College Art Professor Jen Pepper and her students have set up an art installation. Potteiger is the daughter of Matt Potteiger,a Suny ESF Professor of Landscape and Architecture, who participated in the installation.

@ DAPP Publishers

Robin Kahn, editor
Time Capsule
New York, NY: Creative Time & SOS International. 1995

Synopsis: This book was published to commemorate the United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. All submissions from women around the world are contained unedited in Time Capsule. Edited by Robin Kahn with introductory essays by Kathy Acker and Avital Ronell.
Category: Source Book
Pages: 686 p.
Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 27.5 x 22 cm.
Cover: Paperback
Signed: Unsigned and Unnumbered
ISBN: 1881616339
Price Info: $25.00 available @


Robin Kahn, editor
Promotional Copy
Brooklyn, NY: Mimi Somerby. 1993
Synopsis: Created as an alternative exhibition space for artists to advertise their projects and ideas at no cost, PROMOTIONAL COPY is a bound anthology of self-promotional advertisements designed by artists, collaboratives, poets, and writers. Printed on yellow newsprint and organized alphabetically by category (Evil, Experimental Epistemology, Eye-Witness Accounts), let your fingers do the walking through the hundreds of entries from hundreds of artists.
Category: Book
Pages: 400 p.
Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 28 x 21.5 cm.
Cover: Paperback
Edition 3000
Price Info: $25.00
available @

@ Int'l Sculpture Magazine

Sculpture February 1998 Vol.17 No. 2
Inspiration and Renewal:
Residencies for Sculptors

by Jane Ingram Allen
A residency provides a place whose primary reason for being is the support of artists in their creative work. It is a place where individual artists work on their art in their own way and live together with other artists for a certain period of time. Residencies can provide uninterrupted time free from the distractions and obligations of daily existence. Most residencies are open to sculptors, and many offer unique and special attractions for sculptors.
Many factors play a role in the realization of this unique environment for artists. Most residencies offer artists a place to live and work and do not ask them to do anything in return except be artists. Many residencies also provide a stipend to help residents pay for travel, materials, and other personal expenses. A few places do ask artists to help pay for room and board, and many have a small application fee. During some residencies artists are asked to volunteer time or donate a work made during the residency.
Most residencies are not exclusively for sculptors but also include visual artists and artists from other disciplines, such as composers, writers, and choreographers. Many sculptors find it particularly stimulating to have non-visual artists as well as other sculptors and visual artists at a residency. Lasting friendships and helpful career contacts can be some of the benefits of a residency experience. In the following pages, I will discuss a few notable residency programs, although there are many more not mentioned here that are also available to sculptors.
Sculpture Space in Utica, New York, is one of the few institutions offering residencies specifically for sculptors (another is Socrates Sculpture Park, which offers residencies to work outdoors in its Queens, New York, site). The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Arts/Industry Program in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, also attracts mostly sculptors. The Kohler program provides residencies for artists working in clay, cast iron, and brass-all processes used in the Kohler factory where it is housed.
Many other organizations provide short-term residencies to sculptors. Some residencies are like retreats, offering a few months in beautiful surroundings and interaction with other creative people from a variety of disciplines. These residencies focus on the creative process and are not product-oriented. They can be places to get away from it all and develop ideas; they emphasize rejuvenation, experimentation, and creative development. The Corporation of Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York, and the Millay Colony for the Arts in Austerlitz, New York, are examples of this retreat type of residency in a picturesque natural setting.
Lesley Leduc, public affairs coordinator at Yaddo, says that many of their residents welcome the "spiritual refreshment in the company of stimulating people working in different mediums and fields," a special attraction of Yaddo. Itty Neuhaus, a New York City sculptor in residence at Yaddo in the winter of 1996 and 1997, says that she felt "incredibly comfortable" at Yaddo. She added, "the pressure is off; you are accepted on your past work." This retreat-like atmosphere at places like Yaddo and the Millay Colony can be invaluable for the development of a sculptor's work.
Jennifer Pepper, a Brooklyn-based artist who was a resident for one month at Millay in 1995, says that the beautiful setting offered excellent opportunities to walk and meditate. She arrived without knowing what she would do, and an experience with sound at Millay caused her to begin works visualizing sound-an idea she is still working with. She did 200 drawings and cast some pieces at Millay. Pepper also valued the strong sense of community and enjoyed sharing ideas and studio visits with the five artists there. Kim Waale, a Syracuse sculptor, was also a resident at the Millay Colony, in 1996. To her, the experience was "like working on a different planet." Waale found herself working on an entirely different schedule, stay ing up all night, getting up at 10 o'clock the next morning and continuing to work. Her one-month residency of focused time in relative isolation was "terrific for my work," she says.
Other short-term residencies for sculptors focus on the completion of a planned project which may culminate in an exhibition at the site. The Mattress Factory, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Connemara Conservancy in Dallas, Texas, are examples of this project-oriented type of residency. Mattress Factory resident artists are selected each year by the curator and work on site usually from two to six weeks. During the residency all expenses are covered, plus artists receive a negotiated stipend. Residents at the Mattress Factory create a site-specific installation which is then on public exhibition and may be added to the institution's permanent collection of installation art. Over 100 artists, many well-known, have created works at the Mattress Factory. Kiki Smith was recently in residence there, producing a site-specific work using two floors of one of the Mattress Factory's two buildings. This work is based on Smith's study of the collections at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and drawings she has made of specimens from the collection. Her installation will remain on view through July 1998.
Connemara Conservancy, a 72-acre nature preserve on the outskirts of Dallas, has for the past 10 years been inviting 10 sculptors each year to create site-specific works on its land. The sculptures remain on public exhibition for three months and are then removed to leave the land in its original condition. The sculptors are paid a $1,300 stipend and offered free room and board at the conservancy during the two weeks in early March when the works are made and installed with the help of volunteers. The sculptors also are given accommodations when they return in May to take down the works and restore the site. This residency at Connemara is an opportunity to realize a large-scale outdoor sculpture work in a short but intense time period.
In a longer residency more time is available for a sculptor to develop work and adjust to the place. Many sculptors say they change directions, learn new things, and produce lots of new work at this type of residency. There is less pressure to get something done and more time to relax and think deeply. There is also more opportunity to experiment, to make mistakes, and to change ideas. For shorter residencies it usually works best to have a focused plan. But all of the sculptors agreed that it's best to be open to changing that plan and adapt to the place and people at the residency. The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts; Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado; and the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program, in Roswell, New Mexico, are examples of longer residencies not oriented to predetermined projects.
The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown emphasizes residencies for artists who are usually young and just beginning their careers. Hunter O'Hanian, executive director at the center, says that its focus is to provide "time and space for emerging artists regardless of age or background." The Fine Arts Work Center offers seven-month residencies for visual artists and writers. Residents receive a $375-per-month stipend and visual artists, an additional $75 monthly allowance for supplies.
Ellen Driscoll was a resident at the Fine Arts Work Center for two years, from 1983 to 1985. While there she worked on wood sculptures that were primarily expressionistic and architectural and did lots of drawing. Her extended residency in Provincetown showed her what it was like to live as an artist and made her realize what that kind of connection to her work could mean. She says that she was able to maintain that connection even after the residency.
Sculptor Paul Bowen, a British native, also came to Provincetown near the beginning of his career, in 1977-79. He liked the place so much that he decided to make it his home and has worked there for the past 20 years. He liked being in a seaside town, and his work continues to be inspired by the sea. He states that the residency at the Fine Arts Work Center changed his life as an artist, because "the undiluted experience of studio time deepened my involvement in my work." He describes Provincetown as relatively isolated during the winter months, a factor that contributes to concentrated time in the studio. For Bowen, the summer months of bustling activity and many art-related events and visitors created a nice contrast. He says that the Fine Arts Work Center residency gave him his first chance to meet a "real writer." He especially enjoyed the association with other creative people who were intensely focused on developing their work.
Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado offers October-to-May residencies for sculptors as well as other visual artists. Their new facility for sculpture opened in June 1997. The 2,500-square-foot studio building with 10-foot-high ceilings has huge retractable doors so that the space can be an indoor and outdoor working space. Doug Casebeer, program director for ceramics and sculpture at Anderson Ranch, said the new studio has equipment for working in metal, wood, plaster, and other materials. According to Casebeer, James Surls, a visiting artist at Anderson Ranch this summer, liked the new sculpture studio and the place so much that he has decided to move there from Texas.
The Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program in Roswell, New Mexico, also offers sculptors a sustained amount of time to focus on their work. The full-year residencies offered at Roswell provide a $500-per-month stipend as well as $100 per month for each dependent living with the artist. Roswell is probably the only residency that welcomes spouses and/or families. Each artist is offered a partially furnished house and separate studio space at the complex. Adam Curtis, who was a resident at Roswell from 1991 to 1992, says that his extended time there gave him a chance to make the transition, get used to the space, and really focus on his work. In Roswell he worked on concrete and steel sculptures. Curtis felt that Roswell had lots of space, good resources, and excellent support from the community while he was there. The program at Roswell was started in 1967 by Donald Anderson, himself a painter, in cooperation with the Roswell Museum and Art Center.
Coleen Sterritt, a Southern California sculptor who was a Roswell resident in 1994, valued the expansive countryside at Roswell and the relative isolation that helped her focus on her work. She says, "the residency affected my work tremendously. I got to the core of what I wanted to express. This one is unlike most others-there's no urgency to produce work. You can go and lick wounds for four months and it's okay. The residency is not about production; it's more reflection about your life as an artist." Sterritt says that she made major changes in her work with this time to focus. She also finished about 10 pieces and did many drawings.
Sculptor Robbie Barber, a resident at Roswell for the 1991-92 year, also appreciated the luxury and significance of having a full year as an artist in residence. He says that in his case, being just out of graduate school and ready to focus on his work, the residency was a great experience, though it might be difficult for someone already working or teaching to take off a full year. Barber found that the Roswell landscape, people, and local flavor began to affect his work. One of the works he completed was a large painted steel sculpture titled "Goddard Nomad V" (1991-92), an homage to rocket pioneer Robert Goddard, whose collection of rockets is on permanent display at the Roswell Museum and Art Center. Since his Roswell experience, Barber has continued to make mixed-media pieces, many times using images of trailers and other vehicles.
The residency program at Sculpture Space is a particularly valuable program for many reasons. Sculpture Space offers two-month residencies in a well-equipped space geared to the needs of sculptors. The facilities are ideal for those working in fabricated metal, but the studio space is flexible and just about any type of work can be done there. New equipment is added each year as funding allows. Sculpture Space Director Gina Murtagh says that this year they are adding advanced computer systems to enable sculptors to use this technology in their work. One room at Sculpture Space is dedicated to installation work, and a garden and grounds are available for installing outdoor works. The outdoor space is equipped with a 50-foot monorail hoist.
Sculpture Space has no individual studios other than one 400-square-foot installation room, and three of the four residents usually share the 5,500-square-foot main space. Some sculptors say that they find this sharing of studio space inconvenient and intimidating; however, some say it makes them react to each other's work and creates a dialogue they might not have otherwise. All say they learn to adapt to the space and the shared situation.
Sculpture Space has a broad definition of sculpture, and resident sculptors work in materials ranging from rubber to steel and use many different and unusual processes such as inflatable sculpture, burned and charred wood forms, crocheted fiber, and kinetic sculpture. British artist Steven Pippin developed his technique of using washing machines as pinhole cameras during his 1991 Sculpture Space residency. This period was his first exposure to the United States and led to subsequent museum shows at the Tate Gallery and in the Project room at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
One of the advantages at Sculpture Space is having an on-site technical assistant who is a working sculptor. Jonathan Kirk, studio manager at Sculpture Space, is available to help artists with the equipment and technical requirements of their work or to introduce them to new possibilities and new processes. For example, Kim Waale, while at Sculpture Space in 1996, was just beginning to learn welding. Kirk showed her MIG welding, and she was able to fabricate a large metal piece.
Securing inexpensive materials and large quantities of whatever a sculptor wants to experiment with in his or her work can be challenging in a new, temporary location. Sculpture Space residents mention that Kirk is familiar with local resources and very helpful in guiding artists to them. Waale says that the Sculpture Space stipend and the available resources made it possible for her to buy quantities of casting rubber and resin, to acquire materials to make larger works, and to experiment with her materials. Many resources are available in Utica with its industrial base and many salvage and recycling centers. Sculpture Space has cultivated these community relationships over the years, and residents have benefited from these contacts. Jennifer Pepper says that in her residency at Sculpture Space in the summer of 1997 she was able to "experiment with materials in vast quantities," and created an installation piece using a large number of baseball bats obtained as seconds from a nearby bat factory.
Although Sculpture Space does not provide housing or group living spaces for residents, eight sculptors each year are awarded funded residencies that offer a $2,000 stipend which can be used for expenses during the residency. Sculpture Space staff members help the residents find affordable and convenient nearby housing. The staff hopes to be able to provide housing on site in the very near future. Sculpture Space has already purchased a building next door and plans are underway to renovate the structure as apartments for residents.
During their two-month residency at Sculpture Space, sculptors are free to use their time however they wish and there is no pressure to produce finished work. This laboratory-like emphasis is welcomed by most residents. Sculpture Space also periodically offers receptions for the public to see work in process and interact with the residents. Some residents feel that this "opening" interferes with their concentration and interrupts the process of their work, because they have to show something even though they might not be ready. Others feel that the openings give them an opportunity to get feedback from other artists and the public while their work is in process. Most residents at Sculpture Space produce finished pieces which are used in later installations and exhibitions, but some say they have used the time to work things out, change direction, experiment, and plan for future work.
The site of a residency is very important to sculptors-perhaps more so than other artists because sculpture is about space. A residency gives a sculptor exposure to a completely new and different space. Many sculptors have small, crowded live-in studio spaces in urban areas, but at residencies they find themselves working in large industrial spaces or outdoors amidst trees, grass, hills, and the boundless sky. With access to bigger spaces sculptors can make works they would never envision in their own studios.
John Bjerklie, a Brooklyn sculptor, went to his September 1997 residency at the Ucross Foundation Residency Program in Clearmount, Wyoming, "with a bit of a plan," he says, "But I did far more than I could envision." The Wyoming landscape and Ucross's location on a working cattle ranch certainly influenced the sculpture he made there. Since Bjerklie likes to work with recycled materials that have their own history, he decided to use bits and pieces of a barn and corral that had been dismantled and left on the site. During his one-month residency he made an installation of eight structures occupying roughly 10 acres of land near Ucross Foundation headquarters. He says, "It is a sculpture park created for the birds and any other creatures observing the site." The Ucross experience also gave him time to develop ideas and he is continuing to build on the ideas generated there. Bjerklie said that he especially enjoyed working outdoors, using his own version of barn-building with basic hand tools, a very different work environment from his urban Brooklyn studio.
Many other resident sculptors say the work they do in a residency often relates to that particular place. Itty Neuhaus, who has done many residencies, says that she always responds to a site and her "work comes out of this response. Going to new places generates new ideas and new work." At Sculpture Space during her 1994 residency, she did a site-specific piece titled "Catch the Light II" which continued her interest in using light as a sculptural element. The work consisted of a black fabric sleeve fitted around a window that funneled light to a hemisphere made of wax brick melted in place. The igloo-like form was lit from within, giving the illusion that the heat or light from the window could be channeled and concentrated inside the form. Later, during her winter residencies at Yaddo, Neuhaus began working with snow, inspired by finding the hollow spots in the snow left where three deer had slept. She says that the independent momentum of her work is "constantly changing and influenced by new places."
Jennifer Pepper was also inspired by place during her residency at Sculpture Space. She examined the space of a bathroom in the Sculpture Space facility by crocheting around its edges. She also installed a site-specific work in Sculpture Space's garden area. Kim Waale found that place also affected the work she did at Sculpture Space. During her winter residency, part of the sculpture she was working on involved knitting wire while seated next to a wood stove. She made a large metal piece that she would not have had the equipment to make in her own studio. It's natural, she says, for sculptors to be affected by space: "sculpture is molding and making a world." Different terrain, different geography, different climate, different culture, and new people-all these things about a particular location strongly affect the sculptor's work.
During any residency the sculptor is removed from everyday obligations and provided uninterrupted time to work. The sculptor is then able to focus, with the gift of time, on his or her work. Gina Murtagh, director of Sculpture Space and herself a photographer, says that the "key to a good residency program is that you have no other responsibility." Most sculptors agreed that the greatest benefit of a residency was the time to focus, go deeper, and examine themselves and their relationship to their work. Janet Goldner, a New York City sculptor who has done residencies at Yaddo, the Millay Colony, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, says that residencies give her time to think through a body of work. She adds that many times the equipment and facilities at a residency may not be ideal for making sculpture, but the benefit is mainly having time to focus. Most sculptors said that they accomplished much more in a shorter period of time than they would have been able to do in their studios at home with all the responsibilities, distractions, and deadlines of everyday life.
Jennifer Pepper says that the greatest advantage of a residency is the "ability to be an artist full-time, to shut out the world and be able to work through ideas rapidly because of not having to work in fragmented bits." During her residency at Sculpture Space she experienced a kind of "hyper focus" and she began to think of everything in terms of her sculpture-even the act of sweeping the studio floor.
One of the greatest benefits for many sculptors in doing a residency is receiving validation for being an artist and feeling the respect given to the work of creating sculpture. They are treated as artists and nothing else is expected of them except that they concentrate on the work of being an artist. That does not necessarily have to be producing sculpture, but can be thinking, researching, and planning. Some of the most valuable residency experiences reported by sculptors are those that do not necessarily produce many new works, but that make a change in the direction of their work or allow the sculptor to focus on knowing him- or herself. When speaking about her residency at the Fine Arts Work Center, Ellen Driscoll says that this experience gave her "time to confront myself, go down deep and encouraged risk and experimentation." She added that a residency "helps you to know yourself better, extend into areas that might not pan out, to say to yourself-I can follow this and see where it leads. Sometimes the real world doesn't allow that kind of open-endedness."
Jane Ingram Allen is a sculptor living in Hamilton, New York. Her new Web site, with information about her work as an artist and as a writer, is located at www.borg.com/~allents.
Suggested references for more information about residencies for sculptors:
Artists Communities A Directory of Residencies in the United States That Offer Time and Space for Creativity is a 1996 book by the Alliance of Artists' Communities. It has an introduction by Stanley Kunitz. Allworth Press, 10 East 23rd St., New York, NY 10010. $16.95.
Artists and Writers Colonies Retreats, Residencies and Respites for the Creative Minds was written by Gail Hellund Bowler in 1995. Blue Heron Publishing, Inc., 24450 Northwest Hansen Rd., Hillsboro, OR 97124. $15.95.
Sculpture Magazine The International Sculpture Center Directory of Artists' Residencies was published in the February 1997 issue of Sculpture. The directory describes more than 60 U.S. residencies. International Sculpture Center, 1050 17th St. NW, Suite 250, Washington, DC 20036. $7.
The Visual Artist Information Hotline Call 1-800-232-2789 to get a fact sheet titled "Artist Communities/ Artist-in-Residence Programs," which is available free of charge to artists.