Charlotte artists Amy Bagwell, Graham Carew and Amy Herman haven’t had much free time for, oh, the last two years. Bagwell says the three have been in “emergency mode – but the good kind of emergency” since July 2015, when Crescent Resources first offered them free rent to create artist residencies at its vacant Goodyear Tire building uptown.
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They’re now ready for their third act (after a second, temporary 2.0 version that was also uptown): Moving to Camp North End, north of uptown, has given Goodyear Arts twice as much space, more options and, with a three-year lease, lets them finally escape that emergency mode.
This move “is a huge opportunity for them,” says Jennifer Sudul Edwards, curator for the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. She’ll miss GYA’s presence uptown, but this “gives them a level of stability and an opportunity to build a facility that puts them more on the level of (the) McColl (Center for Art + Innovation).
“They no longer have to hustle for space. This move will free their minds up to support artists in even more substantive ways.”
▪ Space for theater and dance. “We work with experimental performance artists, and we asked them what they wanted in a theater space,” Bagwell said. “They wanted a flexible space that could be turned into anything they wanted.” Nicia Carla’s PaperHouse Theatre will be the first theater group to use the space when the group produces “The Revolutionists” Oct. 5-21.
▪ Paying artists. Since the beginning, GYA has offered free space and a stipend to its artists-in-residence. Bagwell & Co. are in the process of writing a grant proposal that would fund nine artist residencies each year. Each artist would get free studio space, a gallery show at the end of the two-month residency and a stipend of $1,500. All spots are reserved for local artists.
▪ Creating community. In addition to being local, the artists chosen for residencies must be “daring and good,” Bagwell said. “And they should be able to co-inhabit a space and contribute to the collective momentum. No one here is mercenary and out just for Number One. There’s no sniping and no side-eye.” The first show at Camp North End is contemporary: Bagwell jokes that the paint – on the work and in their new space – may not be dry yet, so they’re calling the exhibition “Wet Paint.” That will open Sept. 29 (6-9 p.m. with free admission and beer) and be on view through Nov. 10. It’s an invitational with 31 local artists and work they’ve produced in 2017.
▪ Encouraging experimentation. “We see ‘Wet Paint’ as a showcase of fascinating recent work and at least a partial snapshot of Charlotte art at this moment,” Bagwell said. “It’s also a bit of a dare; we’re asking artists to show work they’ve only just completed – possibly before they’re entirely comfortable with it. It’s less safe than it could be, and that appeals to us. It’s a chance for the artists to take some risks.” The exhibition features a diverse roundup of artists new to Goodyear, including CarlosAlexis Cruz, UNC Charlotte professor, aerialist and founder of Nouveau Sud; painter/writer Barbara Schreiber; and collage artist Felicia Van Bork.
▪ Connecting artists with patrons. GYA offers collectors the opportunity to invest in original artwork. “It’s astounding how affordable some of these pieces are,” Edwards said. “I love the work I’ve bought there. Buying from the artists at Goodyear also puts you in touch with the creative process.
“Goodyear offers people the chance to support local creative culture,” she added. “The complaint I hear a lot is that Charlotte’s established institutions don’t give local artists enough love. We need to pay attention to what’s going on nationally and locally – to look at both sides.”
What else is coming up in the 2017-18 season? Check out the rest of the calendar by discipline: dance; music; theater; and visual arts. Plus: Find where you’re going, with our interactive map.