From Belgrade to Tempe: Maida Gruden
Editor’s note: Earlier this year, the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program hosted Maida Gruden — art historian, curator and CEC ArtsLink Fellow for 2014. Here’s a firsthand look at her time with us in Arizona:
As a visiting curator at the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program at Combine Studios, I was provided firsthand knowledge of a residency program with an excellent organization and productive working calendar.
On October 9, the same day I arrived in Phoenix, my lovely hosts Estrella Payton and Greg Esser took me to a welcome reception (at Peter Held’s home) for Garth Johnson, incoming curator of ceramics for the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center. I met Gordon Knox, director of the ASU Art Museum and a number of people working for the museum, as well as students who were invited to the reception. I had a wonderful evening making a good start in connecting with people of the Phoenix art community.
The next day Greg took me to the official grand opening of the new Changing Hands Bookstore at The Newton. This incredible bookstore with a bar and a restaurant was officially opened by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. I met the mayor of Phoenix and it was just the second day of my residency!
Getting acquainted with the neighborhood of the Roosevelt Row Arts District, in the urban core of downtown Phoenix, demonstrated how art can play an important role in society and community. I was fascinated with how Roosevelt Row fostered an urban renewal and is still doing it. It was such a pleasure to live in this neighborhood during the residency.
From Roosevelt Row, I was going to Tempe on a daily basis to meet students and their professors in the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts School of Art. Since my focus of research is in photography, I met with graduate photography students in their seminar class with professor William (Bill) Jenkins. They wanted to know more about the artist-in-residence program for young photographers that I am developing at the Student’s City Cultural Center in Belgrade. We arranged the schedule for me to visit each of them in their studios.
During the next week, I visited the ASU School of Art Grant Street Studios in downtown Phoenix and I viewed the work of graduate students including Clarita Lulić, Ryan Parra, Thomas Locke Hobbs, Samantha Lyn Aasen, Buzzy Sullivan, Ashley Czajkowski, Monica Garcia, Taylor James and Pam Golden. I was delighted by the diversity of their work as well as their capacity to develop their own specific photographic language. I am glad I had a chance to visit their group exhibition at ASU School of Art Night Gallery at Tempe Marketplace, an experimental space that explores the newly conceived role a university can play outside of its expected domain.
I had a brief opportunity to attend the installation of the exhibition FAMILY MATTERS, revisited together with undergraduate students in photography and Professor Liz Allen, director of the Northlight Gallery on ASU’s Tempe campus. The exhibition opened on October 21 and on that occasion I had a chance to meet exhibiting artists Marivi Ortiz and H. Jennings Sheffield, as well as ASU professors in photography Mark Klett and Stephen Marc Smith.
My further research of student’s work and curriculum expanded into intermedia. It was a pleasure to host Professor Gregory Sale and his students in Intermedia (Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts) in the common room at Combine Studios. We shared our experiences discussing community-based projects in Arizona and Serbia. The atmosphere was informal but a very inspiring one, and we had a wonderful time talking to each other. I learned a lot from each of them. The meeting was organized with the support from Greg and Estrella, who were also participating in the conversation. I visited Gregory Sale’s class again the following week in the Tower Building on ASU’s Tempe campus continuing the fruitful exchange of our opinions and ideas.
On October 28, I gave a public lecture at the ASU Art Museum in Tempe. I talked about projects I’m developing at Students’ City Cultural Center in Belgrade as well as the activities of maramaida curatorial duo. It was also a good opportunity to discuss differences and similarities between ASU’s campuses and Students’ City during the conversation that was opened after the talk and to share ideas about students’ exchange programs. The audience was interested to find out more about my host, the CEC ArtsLink program and the additional opportunities that they provide.
The same evening, after my public talk I visited the ABBA (A Bunch of Book Artists) show at the Harry Wood Gallery. My involvement in the Extended Field of Book project in Belgrade gave me a lot of ideas how these two collectives from Belgrade and Tempe could be connected. I am glad I met Professor Dan Meyer and graduate student Monica Garcia, both of whom are involved in ABBA.
Thanks to my hosts, I was introduced to a number of emerging and accomplished artists. I visited studios and had inspiring conversations with Arizona photographers including Sean Deckert, William LeGoullon, Edgar Cardenas, Claire A. Warden, David Emitt Adams, Nidaa Aboulhosn, Michael Lundgren and Dana Buhl.
I visited Carol Panaro-Smith and James Hajicek’s Alchemy Studio where they both work and teach different photographic processes diving deep into the history of photography. They showed me new inspiring contemporary approaches to old photographic techniques.
I also had the great experience of attending The Table initiated by Dana Buhl, photographic artist and curatorial coordinator at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Wanting to fill the gap, that according to her opinion, was present in the Phoenix art scene, she opened a new space at her house for photographic exhibitions and for people to come, have a dinner and conversation about art. The focus of The Table that I attended was an exhibition Guided Conversation by Mike Williams. The evening-long dialogue was very interesting and inspired with participants including Gordon Knox, Bill Jenkins, Claire Carter, Greg Esser, Dana Buhl, Michael Lundgren, Nidaa Aboulhosn, Max McLeod, Erick Lundgren and Charles Anthony Darr.
Part of the beauty of international artist residency programs is that you can meet people you admire and spend an inspiring time with them. During my residency in Phoenix I met renowned Slovenian artist and architect Marjetica Potrč, who made a brief visit to Phoenix in order to plan a return visit the following year with her students to conduct a project in partnership with the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program.
The ASU Art Museum’s Senior Curator and Associate Director Heather Sealy Lineberry and Print Curator Jean Makin gave me a wonderful tour around the museum’s various collections. I was fascinated with the possibilities that the ASU Art Museum provides for students and their research.
Thanks to the ASU Art Museum, I had a chance to take a one-day trip to Tucson. It was great meeting Rebecca Senf, curator at the Center for Creative Photography, who gave Greg and me a guided tour around the center. Visiting the Photography Conservation Lab and listening to Dr. Jennifer Jae Gutierrez, senior Photograph Conservator, about conservation processes and the up-to-date equipment that the center possesses was a special experience.
An excellent exhibition, Performance: Contemporary Photography from the Douglas Nielsen Collection was on display at the Center featuring works of Diane Arbus, John Baldessari, Jo Ann Callis, Nan Goldin, Bruce Nauman, Richard Renaldi and Cindy Sherman, among others. I was happy to be in Tuscon to see it.
Our next stop in Tucson was Etherton Gallery, where I had the pleasure to meet Terry Etherton, founder of the gallery. On view was an exhibition titled Land Exposures (with works by Jamey Stillings, Richard Laugharn, David Emitt Adams and Chris Colville). We stayed for the panel discussion “The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar.” Jamey Stillings’ photo project provided the basis for a panel discussion and community questions exploring various challenges, impacts and benefits presented by large renewable energy projects and how we balance those to achieve the most desirable outcomes.
In Tucson I also met Josh Schachter, photographer, multimedia educator and community artist who shared more information about his numerous projects with students, refuges and variety of organizations and institutions.
During my five-week residency stay I had the opportunity to meet a number of local artists and ASU students to view and learn about their work and processes. This short but eventful time brought me the opportunity to develop an exhibition at the Combine Studios gallery based on my interactions with photographers from Phoenix and recent collaborations with photographers from Belgrade. The opening reception of the exhibition Convergence / PHX – BG was on First Friday, November 7, 2014.
Convergence / PHX – BG is an exhibition of photographic works by the following artists from Phoenix and Belgrade: Ryan Parra, Claire A. Warden, Nidaa Aboulhosn, Edgar Cardenas, Sean Deckert, William LeGoullon, Goran Micevski, Ivan Petrović, Stefana Savić, Nina Todorović, Aleksandrija Ajduković and Mihailo Vasiljević. The exhibition represents a generational cross-section of artists from their twenties to their forties. It indicates a first step in connecting the artists, audiences, photographic processes and people from two distant towns. The title Convergence / PHX – BG is intended for the viewer to consider similarities but also to raise interests for differences that enrich and intrigue our local perspectives. The same exhibition will be presented at the Students’ City Cultural Center Gallery in Belgrade at the beginning of 2015.
The effects of this convergence will be to create a space for personal encounter and dialogue between artists from Phoenix and Belgrade, and to help develop collaborative and exchange projects in the future. It was my pleasure to find out that many of the photographers from Phoenix met each other in person for the first time through their participation this exhibition that I curated.
The grand finale of my residency was a one-day trip to Grand Canyon with Greg and Felipe Goes, a painter from Sao Paolo. We had a wonderful time, hiking and enjoying fascinating views of the Grand Canyon until the sun set. We enjoyed beautiful changing colors, moving shadows, perfect air and a time trail comparing geologic time to footsteps along the rim.
This residency program was enormously important in expanding my professional network and opened a number of options for potential collaborative projects that could be developed in the future. In addition to CEC ArtsLink who funded my residency, I would like to thank the ASU Art Museum and my hosts there, Greg and Estrella, for their organization, support, energy, love and commitment!!!
See you again.
— Maida Gruden
Gruden’s residency was funded in part through the support of ArtsLink Residencies which offers artists and arts managers from 37 overseas countries five-week residencies at non-profit arts organizations throughout the US. The program enables artists and communities across the U.S. to share artistic practices with artists and arts managers from abroad and engage in dialogue that advances understanding across cultures.
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