Saturday, June 28, 2008


The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska is host this weekend to a quite ambitious "creativity festival." They have an Artist-in-Residency program, and since they were one of the participant venues in the new Midwestern Voices and Visions project, which involved seven artists at seven different artist residencies last year, they invited us all to Omaha to take part. Most importantly, I've been able to meet and learn about the work of:

Reginald Baylor
Cecil McDonald
Robert Karimi
Tomiko Pilson
Artur Silva
Thu Tran

I spoke at length with Robert Karimi, about whom Brenda Cárdenas had spoken to me on a number of occasions. What I didn't know was that he has deep Bay Area connections, and that he had once served as Artistic Director of the Guild Complex. He's currently living in Minneapolis. His residency was at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, which has an interesting residency program unlike most.

With the exception of Tomiko Pilson, who couldn't make it to Omaha, the rest of us took part in a panel discussion yesterday to talk about our residency experiences. One of the highlights of the festival has been visiting the work/living spaces of the current artists-in-residence. I had a great chat with Janelle Iglesias, a New York-based artist who sometimes collaborates with her sister, Lisa. Check them out at Las Hermanas.

I also had a chance to meet Magdalena A. Garcia, the Executive Director of El Museo Latino, which would like to explore the possibility of hosting Poetas y Pintores in 2009.

One of the goals of the Midwestern Voices and Visions project is to increase the number of minority artists who experience, and benefit from, artist residencies. Here are the colonies that said YES to being a part of this worthwhile initiative, funded by the Joyce Foundation and administered by the Alliance for Artist Communities:

Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota---partner for the Letras Latinas Residency Fellowship, whose first recipient, Michelle Otero, is winding down her month in Red Wing; and one of two partners for the Co-hort Residency Program involving winners of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize and the Cave Canem Prize, with the coordination of the Guild Complex: they will be hosting Gabe Gomez and Ronaldo Wilson next summer.

Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois---the other partner in the aforementioned Co-hort Residency Program who will be hosting Sheryl Luna and Dawn Lundy Martin this July.

Prairie Center of the Arts in Peoria, Illinois.

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska.

Ox-Bow in Saugatuck, Michigan.

Art Farm in Marquette, Nebraska.

John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Consider applying to these colonies.

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