I realize that Shared Spaces is going to evolve and take on new forms over time. This kind of thing happens a lot to artists: we never quite know where a project is headed until it’s already happened. Keeping a clear, crisp concept of an art project in my head has no doubt helped me get things done over the years, but often enough, the good stuff happens when I trip over it and suddenly realize I’m being led down a new path.
In this case I was down in Pelham, New York a few times this summer visiting an art friend from my building in Chelsea, Charlotte Mouquin, who recently left Rush Arts Foundation and took over the Executive Director role at the Pelham Art Center. As Directors do, she asked me to create an artwork for their upcoming Gala fundraiser: a 12”x12” wall relief work in panel format that all the contributing artists were using. Of course I said ‘yes’, thinking I would do one of my regular Cultural Landscape assemblages. A week later realized I could probably generate more fun for them if I created it with input from people there in Pelham. Then I realized if I just did a square flag fragment, (I wanted to work in their requested format) it could work as a regular Shared Spaces event.
By the time dates were set for the first workshop, I’d already agreed to do a second one, and had been playing with various ways to get flag fragments into a square format. I showed up with the clay already formed with the stripes, and we had a great afternoon in the courtyard of the Pelham Art Center with guests at their weekend events and people just walking by on the sidewalk. As always, the kids get it right away which helps create buzz and gets parents and older people to come over and get involved. We filled up the two works nicely by the time it got dark, packed up everything, then Charlotte and I had a chance to visit some artists in their nearby open studios.
I took the pieces back to my studio, poured the plaster next day and cleaned them up in time for their gala. I’m happy with the results – it was a nice, simple one-day project with the public imprinting of objects part, and the square format let me play around with star/stripe forms separately from the actual flag, which was liberating. And I just learned the two pieces found buyers at their fundraiser, so now Shared Spaces is officially a way for communities to create works that raise funds for more art!