I just finished my art interview at the lofts and I passed! There are normally 3 people (my friend Derek had 6 people!) but two of them were sick so it was just two of us talking. I told her about my work and showed her my webpage and talked about the apprenticeship and such. I also talked about my commitment to the loft community and to art in St. Paul/Minneapolis in general. In short, I can't wait!
I also got to question the idea that their main art space will be in hallways and entry ways and such since the gallery got converted into dance/movement space. The conversion is fine, they needed and use the space, but there still needs to be a place to show and discuss artwork that is separate from normal life. We need a gallery space that people can enter and partake in the unique rules of a gallery - or choose to ignore and walk past. Both are OK. What we expect in a hallway and what we will accept in a gallery are different! My interviewer responded that none of the hallways would be "public," with the logic that the "public" is people on the street. Thats just not true. The hallways are subject to people coming home and people visiting and just because people have been OKed as "artists" does not mean they are happy with seeing challenging work at all hours of the day - if at all. (Let alone the technical restrictions for sculpture, video, etc..)
What I think would be really invigorating is to have a "lab" gallery that any artist can show work in with out fear of public concerns. Derek's idea was to have a closed room that would be open for installation or more experimental work including "enter at your own risk" type work. Artists will be able to get invaluable feedback on ideas before they go public, and not have to worry about censoring what they are making.
For example, what if Kara Walker (right) were to live in the Lofts? Would her work be appropriate anywhere in the complex right now? No it would not, but she has the entire top half of the Walker devoted to her installation right now!
It would be a huge missed opportunity to gather together such a diverse group of people in once place and then not provide a testing ground for new ideas and new work. The final thing that struck me in my interview discussion, was her response to my space desire was that lots of people had been asking for storage space, and that would probably get priority. The more I thought about this, the more I was stunned. You build a fantastic building, gather hundreds of creative people in once place, and then rather than encouraging them to experiment and push things, you give them hallway space to show art and storage space to store junk. Hallways and storage, two things that virtually every apartment building has.
My Dad had a good idea if worse comes to worse, get some people together and rent a storage space, and then turn it into a mini-gallery like this. But I hope that the management will take into consideration their mission and realize what a great opportunity they would be throwing away.
That said I can not wait to move in. The place seems very open to change, I just want to be involved!