Project Beta: Nurture, Showcase, Promote and Collaborate
Project Beta Residency: a New York-Newport Artist Exchange:
In August of 2015 NAH embarked on its first free public project and exhibition: Project Beta. We collaborated with Samantha Katz, director of Arts in Bushwick, a non-profit in Brooklyn, NY to create a ten-day artist residency experience. Three artists, Lucia Rollow (Photography, NYC), Thomas Stevenson (conceptual and digital art, NYC), and Benjamin Kiracofe (conceptual sculpture, NYC/Newport) participated in the ten day residency. It involved creating work in studios at host organizations AS220 and the Newport Photography Guild, Syd Janes Welding LLC, and FabNewport, respectively.
The culmination of the Project Beta Residency was a pop-up exhibit involving three local businesses within walking distance of each other. These were tasked with showcasing the work of the visiting artists and the works of three local artists curated and managed by staff and volunteers at NAH.
The Opera House House Theater hosted Thomas Stevenson’s and Jeremy Kiracofe’s work. Thomas’ focus generally lays with “the critique of power structures and the individuals who unwittingly acquiesce to them” (www.thomasjs.com). He often utilizes word art series that focuses on this topic, and his series were projected in the main theater ceiling and walls. They were well received, provoked conversation, and informed his physical collection “40x40 Series” (http://thomasjs.com/40x40/). Jeremy created a hand-stamped triptych project named “Study No. I ( List of Estimations )” (http://www.jeremykiracofe.com/Study-No-I-List-of-Estimations-2015) which enumerates and therefore lends import to mundane occurrences throughout his life.
Thomas and Jeremy were coupled with the Newport/New York based band Silverteeth who performed of on the main stage of the opera at the end of the pop-up. Silverteeth play rock music that “strip[s]pop of anything superfluous to let the melody and the songwriting shine” (the Deli Magazine). Approximately 137 people came through the Opera House to view the exhibit and performance, and the age-range and diversity of the audience was a prominent topic of conversation.
MaisonDNA and Long’s Yoga, two businesses that share a wall on Spring Street, were utilized to exhibit an unnamed photographic essay by Lucia Rollow, a pen-and-ink collection by Newport resident Sara Breslin and a musical performance by local musician David John-Henry Passafiume Jr. The inclusion of multiple locations created circulation between spaces, and partnering with the pop-up craft event “the BackYard Summer Art Series” to share space on promotional material provided for a well-rounded day of art and craft for attendees.
The purpose of the project was multifold: introduce visiting artists to Newport as a place friendly to contemporary work and to give them the opportunity to freely create work for the ten days of their residency; to introduce emerging artists, partnering businesses, and the community to artistic modalities outside of the formalist and classicists modes prevalent in Newport; to have a public introductory event for Newport Art House that focused on branding the organization as an organizer of public contemporary art events; to test the social support for the pop-up concept in a historically restrictive environment; and to create a prototype for a yearly residency with the hopes of expanding our network of private-home-owners willing to host artists.
From the outset we decided to measure the success of Beta on the number of collaborating organizations we could involve pro-bono (nine total), the number of artists we could showcase (six total), the amount of publicity we could produce (articles in three publications, including Art New England), spaces we could get donated for residency (three), and the number of visitors we engaged (~137 through the Opera House alone). The event, by all measures, was a successful litmus test of the willingness of Newport to support contemporary arts, and the capacity of Newport Art House staff to create something important within a month and with a shoe-string budget.
More about the Artists Involved:
Click on picture of artist to be routed to their website.
Lucia Rollow is an artist/activist/organizer who has been living, loving & working in New York City since 2005. Lucia holds a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts and an MPS in Arts & Cultural Management from Pratt Institute. In 2011 Lucia founded the Bushwick Community Darkroom and she currently balances her time between managing that facility, handling the year round operations of Arts in Bushwick and make her art.
Thomas Stevenson is an conceptual visual artist whose practice evokes the1970s. For Thomas, this time was filled with the pursuits of what was considered child-
hood: roaming freely, independance and learning kinesthetically. The world seemed free as well, unencumbered from the tyranny of digital inter-dependence and the over reaching hand of state. The din of the outside world was confined to the television and the daily newspaper. Societal bonds were formed at the commu-
nity level. Individuals were defined by the place they carved out in their community, not by their digital social medias.
Mr. Stevenson’s work, which takes the form of sculpture, video, performance and installations, allows participants to slip into a parallel world, one which empha-
sizes communal skills and interactions that he believes defines humanity. Though this definition is often at odds with the power structures that surround him, he believes that individuals unwittingly acquiesce to them due to their prevalence. His projects have been deployed in urban streets and rooftops, in the Mojave desert, and at the New Museum’s Ideas City Festival and Art Basel Miami. His projects have been written about in the New York Times, the Village Voice, USA Today, the New York Observer and French and German television show Trax.
Thomas has an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and a BA in Philosophy from Boston University. He’s completed the Art & Law program in New York City. Thomas resides in Brooklyn.
Statement: A beautiful idea works the same way a beautiful color or image arrangement; you are affected almost immediately, narrative, assumptions and relations are made, but you always come back to the initial reaction.
A good or wonderful idea is one that acts as a tool to creatively and efficiently begin or end something. A pure idea begins and ends nothing. When an idea challenges, relates to or comments on an external something it will always be weaker than if it the idea is presented as the important subject.
Images, colors, movements and sound have the potential to affect their witness to the point were description is irrelevant. Stories, poems and lyrics contain the potential to influence their witness’ mind to create these images, colors, movements and sounds. The pure idea has the ability to influence their witness’ mind beyond description or relation. A pure idea boasts an aesthetics of its own. The pure idea has nothing to do with anything but itself. An idea that uses the visual, temporal and aural as a vehicle, without relying on its motive to insist beauty. Even if the pure idea is seen through as a temporal gesture, movement or sound, the beginning and ending is still the same pure, beautiful nothing.