Artist Showcase TONIGHT (Friday, September 4) from 6-9 pm
Artist residencies provide two incredibly valuable things: time and space to work. These simple traits become hard to find in Charlotte when studio rents are high and the need to take on extra work for money overcomes studio time.
Our answer to this need in Charlotte has been the McColl Center for Art + Innovation. The Center is amazing in that they bring in some of the best artists in the country, primarily those with social engagement at the heart of their practice. That focus, as would be expected, leads to lots of great community partnerships and involvement.
While the McColl Center is more of a traditional residency opportunity – a non-profit organization with a 15-year history – there is a new temporary residency program in Charlotte embracing grassroots artist-as-entrepreneur spirit that is integral to our vibrant, growing arts community.
Crescent Communities has empowered Amy Herman and Amy Bagwell to coordinate the three-month Skyline Artists in Residence at the old Goodyear Tire building on East Stonewall Street. Herman and Bagwell have organized six artist residencies thus far, with three more to come during the month of September. Each month-long residency culminates in a showcase by the residents, with the next one TONIGHT, September 4, from 6-9pm.
On Wednesday, the HappeningsCLT team had the opportunity to visit the Goodyear space. We saw the accumulation of these residencies thus far, with works by previous residents adorning the walls and floors. But what we really loved was learning from current resident Matthew Steele about why this residency was important to him: it allowed for experimentation in media and scale; he pushed himself, the way good residencies should push artists; he had to work within the parameters of the residency; and he also had incredible freedom. The tension between the two produced a new work of art, Lure, that Steele never would have created without this residency. He considered scale shifts in the past, but this 70 foot work was only possible in this space. Even the material he chose was a result of being in the space: old metal tire racks.
And while the Goodyear space will be torn down in a few months, these kind of temporary spaces, where artists are given freedom to fully explore the possibilities of their practice without traditional rules and protocol, can only be good for our city. It is a truth that artists can revitalize and invigorate spaces – particularly those in need of improvement. We hope more developers can be as forward thinking as Crescent Communities. There are plenty of empty spaces throughout our city; why haven’t our leaders been proactive about recruiting the creative community, even if that means lowering rent? Isn’t an occupied space still better than an empty one, with little hope for a rental on the horizon?
We encourage you to help shift the mindsets of our developers and leaders by fully supporting this residency program. Go to the opening, or set up another time to see the artists work, post on social media, and get the word out!