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A group of innovative contemporary artists will captivate and engage residents and visitors in downtown New Rochelle throughout the summer with installations, performances and pop-up exhibitions that will meet people in storefronts and public spaces, including the Library Green at the heart of the district.
Moving beyond the traditional studio model, the artists will aim to re-examine daily life in all its interactions – the way we see, hear, speak to each other, transact business and even dine together. They will include six artists based for the summer in an apartment building under renovation, 5 Anderson Street, as well as other visiting artists in a joint initiative of the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) and Residency Unlimited, a Brooklyn-based organization that supports contemporary art with residencies and public programs.
Curated by Livia Alexander of Residency Unlimited, the works will interact with the New Rochelle community in participatory and socially engaged projects installed in the storefronts and vacant spaces and at the downtown Grand Market that comes each Saturday to Ruby Dee Park at Library Green.
Artists in the residency are Brandy Bajalia, Meredith Degyansky, Victoria Estok, Thiago Goncalves, Wade Schaming, and Stephanie Spitz. Their base, called ART at 5 Anderson, will be in the renovated apartment building’s large storefront on North Avenue. The 4-story building has been gut-renovated to offer 38 luxury apartments with full amenities in a prime downtown location. With the units now coming onto the market, owners Mark and Robert Ponte are donating the use of the storefront, two apartments, lobby, rooftop terrace, courtyard terrace and gym and community spaces to the arts program. There, the artists will experiment, explore and develop their work, presenting it throughout the summer in impromptu events, engagements and exhibitions, as well as two open studio events on July 16th and August 27th.
As part of the project, the guest artists will meet with long¬-established art groups and curators in New Rochelle to collaborate on shows, building an even more vibrant creative scene and sparking public interest in the arts. It will culminate with ArtsFest 2016, an annual celebration of the arts in New Rochelle and Pelham with gallery shows, music and other events that will take place September 23 through 25.
Shows will change every two to three weeks, with openings scheduled for Saturday afternoons to create a perfect opportunity for people to attend, shop at the Grand Market and stay to dine at downtown New Rochelle’s great variety of restaurants.
“These innovative artists will present us with fresh new ways of experiencing our downtown, and will prove again that it’s all happening here,” said Ralph DiBart, Executive Director of the BID. “Throughout the summer, they will enthrall residents and visitors with creative and thought-provoking installations, social interactions and other conceptual works that encourage people not only to marvel at them, but to participate in activities.”
The initiative aims to activate the downtown as the town common for the entire community, reuniting neighbors in its public spaces, Alexander adds. “Our emphasis is on working with artists in a participatory, socially engaged practice, deploying them as makers, thinkers, and investigators to develop projects centered in the downtown area and addressing questions of locality and sustainability directly concerning the communities of New Rochelle,” she said.
In addition to the artists in the residency, other visiting artists will include Eli Barak and Delano Dunn who will be presenting a cooking¬-based performance, engaging audiences with a slight shift on the traditional gallery experience. Sheetal Prajapati and Anna Harsanyi will invite members of the community to engage in a gaming night on August 27th, 2016 to explore their collective living spirit, while Ruth Borgenicht will be hosting a communal eating event with dynamic tools and eating wares, often needing multiple participants to feed and be fed successfully. Specially commissioned video art programs curated by Keti Kurrizo, Rachael Rakes, Alvaro Ugarte will be showcased on the roof terrace. Additional exhibitions include Ghosts, curated by Beth Livensperger of Field Projects, as well as pop up exhibitions featuring the works of CracielaCassel, Ellie Irons, Gustavo Prado, Kanako Hayashi. .
The program runs through September 25, 2016Studio Location: 5 Anderson Street, New Rochelle, NY
The New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) is a nonprofit association of over 800 business and property owners whose prime goal is economic development, new business and new investment. As part of its mission, the BID is also devoted to assuring clean and safe streets, adequate parking and exciting downtown activities and events. By creating a vital downtown experience, the BID focuses on attracting shoppers, recruiting new businesses, and providingenhanced services—it is pledged to preserve the charm and appeal of this commercial center as the historic heart of the greater New Rochelle community.
Residency Unlimited (RU) is a non¬profit organization supporting the creation, presentation and dissemination of contemporary art through unique residency programs and year¬round public programs. They forge strategic partnerships with collaborating institutions to offer customized residencies designed to meet the individual needs of participating artists and curators. Residents and communities benefit from their diverse network of partners, which allows for flexibility, customization and access to a wide range of services and resources including but not limited to studio/workspaces. RU is particularly committed to promoting multidisciplinary practices and building lasting connections between residents and the broader arts community.
Livia Alexander is a New York based curator and writer and incoming chair of the Department of Art and Design at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Alexander has curated and produced visual arts and film exhibitions at a wide variety of institutions, including the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and Maraya Arts Centre, among others. She is a regular consultant to a variety of art organizations and galleries and is the co-founder of ArteEast, a leading international non-profit organization promoting Middle Eastern art. Her writings have appeared at Hyperallergic, Harpers Bazaar Art Arabia, Journal of Visual Anthropology, Framework and as part of edited volumes on film and art.
The artists selected for participation include:Stephanie Spitz: Her work explores the parallels between art making and home building. Her practice views the home as a structuring mechanism for the construction of personal identity. Her installations question the notion of renovations and their role in the defining the quality of home. “I like the way the building project is trying to foster community,” Spitz says. BFA: Drake University, MFA Montclair State University.
Victoria Estok: Victoria is a conceptual artist whose practice explores how sound relates to our perception of reality. Micro¬broadcasts and audio interventions combine environmental noises with snippets of conversations. Her Hyper¬directed sound allows a listener to hear the compilations in one spot, while someone standing just to one side does not. She plans to interview the people of New Rochelle to gather audio for her projects, in hopes of building a new sonic portrait of New Rochelle. She states she may tweak the city’s traditional nickname, “Queen City on the Sound,” into simply “the Queen City of Sound.” Estok teaches New Media at SUNY Purchase College.
Wade Schaming: Wade’s practice involves discarded materials, reassembled as found sculpture to breathe new life into forgotten objects. BA: University of Pittsburgh, MFA: School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Brandy Bajalia: Brandy is a multimedia artist working in installation, video and painting. She received her BFA from The University of Montevallo in Alabama and a MFA from SVA in New YorkCity.
Thiago Goncalves: Thiago’s background involves an exploration of cinema through FAAP and the school of Architecture at Escola da Cidade in Sao Paulo as well as the School of Architecture in London. He has participated in feature films and both group & solo shows locally in Sao Paulo as well as abroad.
Meredith Degyansky, aka “The Work Intern”: Meredith explores the impact that stresses and suffering from the financial crises have on communities and the individual, on both the micro and macro levels. Degyansky explores “alternate economies” in which people barter or bank the hours they work in exchange for goods and services. Established on self¬made currency, Meredith designed a system of business transactions on a more human scale. “Those moments are moments of art,” Degyansky says. “It’s making me want to engage in smaller, takeoutthemiddleman transactions.”
In this new program, the BID and RU are commited to forming an engaging community of participating artists who have committed to spending at a minimum two half days at their studio, each week in New Rochelle, and will make best effort to be present Saturdays for the duration of the residency for open studios or on-site interventions. The Residency is aimed at nurturing and supporting the practice of its artists, through allowing residents to participate in public programming, professional development workshops, studio visits, and other similar events.