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What it was like to create work in the hotel for the 2017 ArtHotel artists

As QCA launches the 2nd round of the QCA's Residency Program, ArtHotel, we thought it would be great to give you some sort of perspective as to what it is like to work in a hotel for a 3-month period.

QCA Grant and Resource Director of the Queens Arts Fund, Lynn Lobell, interviewed last year's recipients of ArtHotel. The first Artist-in-Residence, Erin Treacy, set up her studio at the Paper Factory Hotel. Placed in the lobby, she worked in a very public environment,  As painter, she was responsible for breaking down her workspace following each studio session, securing her materials in a locked closet at the end of the day. For photographer and installation artist Jennifer Williams, her residency took place at the ZNYC Hotel, where she worked within a closed guest room. Jennifer's  workspace became not only her studio, but the location of a site-specific installation.

As you will see from the conversation, each hotel provided a very different and unique experience for each artist.

Erin Treacy

Erin Treacy

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams

Lynn: Did the residency meet your expectations? 

Erin: Yes, overall the residency provided space and financial assistance to work on a new body of paintings and drawings. Prior to commencement, I was interviewed by the Paper Factory and was able to see the space, which was sectioned off from the main lobby but also very public. This was a new way to work, with an ongoing open studio process, yet it was nice that visitors were able to see the studio process that leads to the art. It took a little while to get used to, but once I was going things were great. Occasionally someone would ask questions, but really they were just observing so it was not interrupting. Since it is an open space I would keep my materials in a separate closet, The Paper Factory's arts manager would meet me to assist in set up and break down. At first (being the first resident) it was a little difficult figuring out when to go. Once I set up a regular schedule then the manager and I were able to easily meet to set up space. 

Jennifer: Yes! For me, the residency was about being given a space to work in that was outside my normal routine, something new to inspire me.  

Lynn: What was it like working in a hotel environment? Were you able to meet the goals that you set?

Erin: It was definitely a change. I have done several residencies mostly in secluded environments, so it is surprising the questions that did arise from hotel guests. I had planned to work on small colleges and drawings while there, but ended up working on canvases because the hotel had easels and there was not a place to work on a wall (brick and glass), however, the change was welcomed, as it challenged my usual studio practice.  

Jennifer: It was a unique experience, unlike any other residency I’d participated in before. I had an entire room to myself and time to sit and let the work grow organically, which was a main goal. Hotels are such transient spaces with guests streaming in and out. I think the tourist vibe pushed my work in ways I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. I definitely exceeded the goals I set. I'd say my biggest challenge is feeling aware of the room as a hotel room; not an "official" studio space. Therefore keeping it clean and blemish free are always on my mind. And trying to not disturb the guests.

Lynn:  What advice would you pass along to the next recipients of the ArtHotel Residency?

Erin: Make a schedule at the beginning if you are required to meet with a hotel personnel to begin your workday. I set up two days a week I would come in and that made it easier to know I was not going to have to be exchanging constant communication about when I would be in that week. If you do not like your picture taken, it could be a bit difficult. The hotel guests are all visitors, often European tourists, and they do take lots of photos of you in the process of the making. This was difficult for me at first, as I am not a person who’s used to it, but again, I did get used to it so it was a learning experience - like a constant open studio. Think about your studio process, if you need to leave everything out from one visit to the next, this may be difficult for you, visit the space and see if it can work for you.

Jennifer: Get settled in as soon as possible and make the most of your time! For me that meant bringing the equipment I needed to the space and having them set up, ready to go on a whim. Also explore the neighborhood and talk to the hotel staff. One of the advantages of the residency is gaining new insight into your work by talking with people who wouldn’t normally see your work or aren’t clued into the art world at all.  

For the 2018 ArtHotel QCA will again be partnering with the Paper Factor Hotel located in Long Island City.  New to our residency hosts is the SpringHill Suites, LaGuardia located in Corona. 


If you are interested in applying to the  ArtHotel Residency,  check out the guidelines and eligibility here.

The deadline for submission is Monday, January 8, 2018, 5pm

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Wisdom from a Local Arts Leader in Queens

This article originally appeared in Huffington Post.

This article originally appeared in Huffington Post.

On a quiet street in Astoria, just a blink away from the Kaufman Studios and the Museum of the Moving Image, a new art space opened its doors as a place to create things by hand. AlterWork Studios, opened by Tina Stipanovic, an artist and arts leader in Queens, is a place where artists can rent studios, collaborate, exhibit, work independently or learn a new skill, came into being in the summer of 2017.

Tina is an artist, a graduate of Parsons School of Design with an MFA in Fine Arts, and a restless collaborator who actively looks for people to work with “to better the place I live in” by bringing in new artists.

In this interview, I asked Tina the following questions:

What has give you the greatest joy in your work and why?

I think it’s important to give a platform to others who may not have one. And by platform, I mean a place to work, perform or exhibit such as in the Kaufman Arts District (KAD) Backlot Art Festival that I created last year, the events I have been curating at RaR Bar and now at AlterWork.

What have been your greatest challenges?

Finding your voice as an artist is getting more difficult. On social media, you find that everyone is claiming to be a creative. With so many people making so much noise, it is hard to be heard.

Another challenge is synchronizing the way I approach the world as an artist and as a business person. It is not easy to survive, to stay true to your art and to be creative. I have been navigating this for the past 10 years and the finer the distinction between the two, the more successful I feel I’ve become. Art is very personal and RaR, even though it is a business, it is also a platform where great things can happen, too. The kitchen and the stage are places for performances where my creative thinking and love of art can benefit others as well.

For everything I do, whether it is running AlterWork Studios or the KAD Backlot Art Festival, I have to approach it with a pragmatic eye of a business person in order to benefit others but it also has to be something I, as an artist, can be proud of. It’s a lot of juggling between my left and right side of the brain. 

What would make my job easier would be to delegate work and to keep reminding myself that it does more harm to me if I take on too much myself. Sometimes things may not work out. At the end of the day it is about balancing the workload with the quality of the work and that is the most important thing to maintain as a priority.

As you grow, what are your thoughts about the arts field at this moment in time?

Queens is really big. The size of the borough is a challenge. There are many hubs of artists and creativity but we are all disconnected. The role of artists and their needs haven’t changed. Artists still flock to places they can belong but these sites are silos. We need to find ways to create more connections and opportunities to collaborate across the borough. For example, how great would it be for the KAD Backlot Art Festival to work together with the Queens Museum or the Flux Factory to be part of what we all are doing and create even bigger things?

There is a lack of connective tissue.

People need smaller spaces where they can be hear. I come from Pula, a town in Croatia with a population of 500,000. Whenever there is a film festival or art event, the whole town attends. Everyone knows about it. This is harder to achieve in big cities but smaller hubs can collaborate with each other to create bigger events with great content. While working with the Kaufman Arts District, my motto is simple: residents must be given improvements and visitors to the District must be given good content. In other words, good reasons to visit and good reasons to stay.

What is the most important piece of advice you can give to your younger self?

I say, don’t worry.

Work hard.

Mind your business.

Keep at it.

Keep learning.

Keep the quality of what you do high. Don’t give in.

I believe it is important for people to create. Humans are, in essence, toolmakers who create ways to survive and to improve their surroundings in an ever evolving world. Whether these tools are ideas or physical objects made with your own hands, we make life better for people when we think and create.

About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer helps artists & creative people grow their careers with great grant writing strategies & mindsets she has developed over 15 years as an veteran grant panelist, grant maker & grant writer. Get her FREE Master Grant Strategy Worksheet and a weekly dose of insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view.

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QCA Holds Queens Emerging Artists Business Prize Ceremony

This past Fall, High School to Art School program alumni have been working hard on their submissions for QCA’s first Emerging Artists Design Competition, sponsored by the building materials manufacturer Alfrex.

On the evening of November 29th, we hosted the contestants, Alfrex, and community members for the Business Prize Ceremony.  The artists shared their work, and the inspiration behind their designs, before we announced the winning designer, a recipient of the $3,000 prize. 

Afterwards, everyone was invited to share some delicious Korean food.  It was a great time, and I hope the first of many more!

QueensEmerging.png

I am so proud of all our contestants, and impressed by their design work.  Shanjida Kibria, the contest winner, is a current junior at the Parsons School of Design.  She also works as a designer for the Department of Sanitation. You can view some of her work online at https://shanjida.wixsite.com/shanjida

Hanna Washburn
HS2AS Program Coordinator

For more photos of the ceremony visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/qcanyc/albums/72157687897680572

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Meet the Art Producers: Introducing Margot Yale

Last month, two groups of seven Art Producers selected two artists to receive a $10,000 commission. In this series, we’ll get to know the individuals responsible for selecting and supporting our four Artist Commissioning Program Awardees. This week, Bayside native and emerging curator Margot Yale shares her experience with the program, discussing her arts background, love of Queens, and what it was like to help decide who received the commission (Margot’s group selected Judith Sloan and Chuan Xie’s projects).

Kelly: Tell us about yourself! What is your art background & relationship to Queens?

Margot Yale.jpeg

Margot: I grew up in Bayside, Queens, and I moved back to Queens about six months ago after graduating from college. Growing up here, I was immersed in the cultural landscape of the borough. I spent a lot of time as a child visiting the Queens Museum and, in several ways, I believe my passion for art derives from the central role the Museum played in my upbringing and my worldview reflects my experience of the cultural landscape of Queens. In high school, I participated and led community-engaged art projects and events at the Clocktower in Long Island City with No Longer Empty and at the Noguchi Museum. This was my introduction to civic-minded art practice and community-responsive exhibition making. In college, I studied art history and American Studies and began exploring curatorial work at the Princeton University Art Museum, the National Museum of American Jewish History, and the Whitney, and now work on the Collection and Exhibition Technologies team at MoMA. I come to the Artist Commissioning Program with a background in visual art and curatorial work and a passion for working with artists and community-engaged art.

Kelly: Why did you want to become an art producer?

It was important to me that we would be prioritizing untold and underrepresented stories. This is a fantastic learning experience to discover more about other artistic disciplines, affording me a stronger understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of modern and contemporary art, and to get to work closely with artists over an extended period of time.

Margot: One of the main catalysts for me in choosing to major in art history and pursue a career in curatorial work was those early experiences I had working on community-based art projects in Queens. Those projects taught me that the arts can be a conduit for telling stories and that without the arts, these narratives are often times otherwise left unsaid. When I saw an email to apply to the Artist Commissioning Program as an Art Producer, I recognized that this was my opportunity to jump back into this work. Having been away from Queens for four years, I also saw this program as an opportunity to reengage with the artistic community here. As an art historian, I’ve always admired artists of all disciplines and I knew that to be able to afford two artists the opportunity to create new works through these grants was really special. Moreover, in applying to this program it was important to me that we would be prioritizing untold and underrepresented stories. This is a fantastic learning experience for me to discover more about other artistic disciplines, affording me a stronger understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of modern and contemporary art, and to get to work closely with artists over an extended period of time. Over the next year, I hope to learn how to work alongside an artist in a creative and commissioning process and how to foster a stronger relationship with artists.

Kelly: What was it like being a part of a group responsible for selecting the commissioned artists?

Through the panel process, I learned how to make a judgment call on two vastly different works and how to determine whether a proposal could likely be executed in the given timeframe.

Margot: It was definitely exciting! One of the aspects I most enjoyed was learning from panelists with expertise in a particular discipline about what they identified as craft and innovation across the proposals. Working in a group to make these decisions, it was crucial to listen to the other voices in the room and I found that as our conversations unfolded, I started to look at certain proposals from an angle or viewpoint that I might not have reached on my own. I was pleasantly surprised by the frequency with which our group came to a consensus—for the most part, we all agreed on which proposals stood out. Through the panel process, I also learned how to make a judgment call on two vastly different works and how to determine whether a proposal could likely be executed in the given timeframe the artists have for this project.

Kelly: When reading artists’ submissions, what made an application stand out to you? What advice would you give to an artist applying for a grant?

My initial excitement about a written proposal had to be matched with highly professional work samples.

Margot: My initial excitement about a written proposal had to be matched with highly professional work samples for a submission to stand out to me. In reviewing the proposal, I needed to feel that the artist not only had this great idea, but that he or she had executed equally great ideas in the past. My piece of advice to an artist applying for a grant is that he or she not skimp on work samples, make sure they are accessible (i.e. not password protected, in an inaccessible format, etc.), and make sure that the media quality is high. Another factor was whether I learned something from the proposal. Given that one of our criteria was that the proposed work would elucidate something not currently visible in American culture, I felt most strongly when a proposal did indeed illuminate a story that was unknown to me. This also meant that the applications that most stood out to me were the ones where the artist had done substantial research or begun workshopping.

Kelly: How did you decide what works were not visible in American culture? What language did you find helpful in discussing these works?

Margot: If a proposal illuminated a story that was unknown to me, I found the work particularly compelling. If an artist’s application proposed a revision of a hegemonic or often uncontested aspect of American culture, I was inclined to feel strongly about the proposal. Judith Sloan’s project It Can Happen Here turns American Exceptionalism on its head and makes audible the voices of many Queens residents who can attest to the contrary. This was important too—that the proposal have a local specificity, speaking both to that which is invisible in Queens and that which is invisible in the United States. Another consideration was whether the proposed project advanced the American canon of its discipline. Chuan Xie’s project SHED pushes the boundaries of choreography, incorporating sculpture, costumes, and light, while speaking to a migrant experience often silenced in this country and in this borough.

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Podcast: Creative Conversations

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Podcast: Creative Conversations

Check out our latest podcast from Clocktower Radio documenting our Creative Conversations meeting on Wednesday, October 25, hosted at the SUNY Educational Opportunity Center in Jamaica. We were joined by many Southeast Queens Artist Alliance (SEQAA) members as well as the curatorial staff of No Longer Empty. Artists also came from across the city to be a part of the dialogue and learn more about what's happening in Jamaica and with southeast Queens-based artists. No Longer Empty is currently working in partnership with York College and members of SEQAA to launch the first Southeast Queens Biennale in Spring 2018. 

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