Sunday, January 08, 2006

On art space mad libs + the incubator

Mathew Nash, at Big Red and Shiny has recently written a couple of articles on art spaces. The first offers an analysis of the strata of art institutions and their various roles that make up the community in and around Boston.
When considering the make up of a healthy, and stimulating art community as expressed in its entities, I generally consider the analogy of an ecosystem. A thriving ecosystem relies on the competetive and symbiotic relationships within a diverse population, each species filling a some essential role.
I find Nash's categorization a handy way to identify the elements of a creative community. I think this model can be used as an overlay, scaled down, to study a community like Beacon, and what it has, lacks, and what addition it could need and support. Realizing that Beacon is 70 miles north of the ultimate Biodome of art environments, we certainly don't need to mimic that jungle, but as we choose to live, and make our work here, are there additions that could enhance this community to further stimulate, or feed our activity?
I'm just asking.

The second article deals with the incubator art space. I find the term "incubator" a bit formal, but the spirit behind such wide open spaces is, for me, the big part of a meat and potatos serving of what a community has to offer. These are the spaces that are not dependant on commercial success of exhibitions, and allow for a exciting petri dish-type platform for a variety of work to be exhibited.
Incubator spaces are the most important aspect of any growing and prosperous art scene. They are where young artists come to maturity, and established artists go to try works that are risky. These spaces ultimately provide the commercially viable and academically relevant artists that make a community worthwhile. Often destroyed by progress and forgotten over time, it is important to remember that there is no art scene without them.

It's in this spirit that bau was formed. I think Zahra's Studio and Para/site offer further examples of this mindset that enriches the community. I think Spire has the opportunity to do so as well. Does a community like Beacon need more art spaces? Can it support more? Is it well enough served that those that exist currently?

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