Artists from throughout New England selected to collaborate

(BOSTON – May 6, 2009) New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) announced today that six communities in Northern New England, along with six artists selected from across New England, are the recipients of $60,000 in grants from NEFA’s most recent public art initiative. The grants pair artists or artist teams with nonprofit organizations and municipalities to plan and/or create a site-specific contemporary public artwork for the local community.

This initiative was made possible with support from Jane’s Trust, and modeled on NEFA’s Fund for the Arts and Art and Community Landscapes programs, to support public art projects addressing environmental issues with an emphasis on rural and underserved communities in northern New England. "These fresh synergies will boost possibilities, and leverage additional resources, for years to come” said NEFA Executive Director Rebecca Blunk, “We’re happy to be helping connect New England artist leadership with local vision.”

Participating communities and artists are listed below.

1. COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION: Burlington City Arts
SITE LOCATION: Main Street, Burlington, VT
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: This project will focus on the creation of a performance parade that takes its inspiration from “Le Defilé” that is staged as part of the Biennale de la Danse in Lyon, France. Le Defilé de Champlain - Legends of the Future, will result from community-based arts residencies in Burlington and across Vermont working with people of all ages and abilities toward the creation of an event that will bring thousands of people to Burlington on July 11, 2009, as part of Vermont’s commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the region’s first contact by a European (French explorer Samuel de Champlain). This special Champlain Quadricentennial link has prompted us to seek participation by French and Quebec artists. French choreographer Heddy Maalem will be involved as an associate artistic director. Quebec Abenaki choreographer and dancer Maria-Claude Rodrigue is also expected to participate. The culminating performance parade is intended to generate a spirit of poetry, invention, sharing, humor, and an exploration of the participants’ sense of place. It should also explore open-ended ideas and metaphors linked to Champlain Quadricentennial themes like first encounter, discovery, border crossings, identity, and more.

ARTIST: Eric Bass, Putney, VT
As a creator and performer since 1982 with Vermont’s Sandglass Theater, Eric Bass of Putney, VT, has numerous international theater direction credits and over a dozen awards for his work. His productions for Sandglass have appeared at 22 international festivals and at prestigious sites including the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival, Jim Henson Festival at Joseph Papp Public Theater, and at PS 122 in New York City. “This project inspires wonderful possibilities for bringing together communities of artists, residents, and cultures,” remarked Bass. “I work to present art in a way that serves both artist and community.”

2. COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
SITE LOCATION: Medical Center campus, Lebanon, NH
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), together with the expertise of selected artists, will identify locations throughout the DHMC campus where future collaborative public art projects--both permanent and temporary--can best be realized. Beyond suggesting public art projects ideally suited for the selected locations, the DHMC Public Art Project Plan will be utilized as a primary fundraising tool to help underwrite the projects contained therein.

As a leading medical institution, DHMC has created a unique environment that unites humanity, wilderness, science and technology where approximately 6,500 employees serve the needs of 470,000 patients a year onsite. The spaces found throughout the DHMC buildings and grounds are as diverse and dynamic as the populations that move through them. Starting with the DHMC Arts Program Coordinator, the artist(s) will engage DHMC employees and patients in a cooperative manner that will cross race, class, and employment boundaries in order to create the DHMC Public Art Project Plan. This project, like the installations for which it paves the way, will help create a greater sense of community within the institution while simultaneously beautifying it--ultimately increasing patient comfort, employee satisfaction, and the overall quality of care that patients receive.

ARTISTS: Dan Gottsegen, Woodstock, VT; Terry Boyle, Burlington, VT
The artist team of Dan Gottsegen of Woodstock, VT, and Terry Boyle of Burlington, VT, combine their experience as a visual artist and landscape architect, respectively, in the DHMC project. Most recently, the pair collaborated to create the City Center Gateway in South Burlington, VT, working with community input. Gottsegen’s solo work has appeared around the nation, while Boyle’s work in landscape architecture has a long history in the northern New England area. “We have a creative process based upon our shared values for public art – that it be responsible to the community, its aspirations and needs, and that it enrich and enliven the experience of both visitors and regular inhabitants,” said the team.

3. COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION: Fitchburg Cultural Alliance
SITE LOCATION: Water Street Bridge, downtown Fitchburg, MA
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: This public art project is one of a three-pronged cultural economic initiative developed by the Fitchburg Cultural Alliance in partnership with the Fitchburg Economic Development Office and Fitchburg State College. The partners are committed to the vitality of arts and culture as a catalyst in their downtown revitalization plan. The vision of the public art is to create a “sense of place” at the entrance to downtown via the Water Street Bridge.

The site—on the median of the Water Street Bridge—builds upon the transformation of the Central Plaza shopping center and the newly-reclaimed Riverfront Park. In time, public art will line all of the bridge’s median; capturing the curiosity and sparking the imagination of anyone who walks or drives over it. The visual impact will be so memorable we hope people will direct others to downtown Fitchburg by saying “once you cross the bridge of art, you will know you are there.”

ARTIST: Gillian Christy, Providence, RI
Through her work, Providence, RI, based artist Gillian Christy strives to create meaningful stories. Ms. Christy has several significant commissions in Providence, including the Smokestack Project at The Plant, a pedestrian bridge, and a piece at T.F. Green Airport. In 2008, she was selected as a recipient of Americans for the Arts Public Art Network “America’s Best Public Art” for the Smokestack Project. “I have worked with committees creating work for the public realm remaining responsive and open to opinions, thoughts and concerns,” said Christy. “By working within a partnership, a conversation can evolve.”

4. COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION: Littleton Area Senior Center
SITE LOCATION: Littleton River Walk Trail, Littleton, NH
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Littleton Area Senior Center (LASC) in partnership with the Littleton High School (LHS), and Common Ground, a nonprofit provider of behavioral and developmental services, is undertaking a permanent site-specific art installation for the Littleton River Walk Trail, a 1.5 mile walking trail located in the center of the town of Littleton, NH. The community objectives for this intergenerational project are to give seniors, students, and the community at large the opportunity to work with a professional artist(s) on a public work of art from conception to fabrication. This work will give participants a vehicle to relate their histories, engage in the creative process, deepen their appreciation and understanding for the art-making, and find a common ground through art.

The trail follows the Ammonoosuc River and is connected by two bridges, one of them a covered bridge built in 2004. The trail is situated near local eateries, a book store, a working gristmill built in 1797, and the LASC. The site was chosen because it is utilized by a wide array of community members, but underutilized aesthetically. The site has enormous potential to have a significant visual, informational, and emotional impact on the community.

ARTIST: Linda Hoffman, Harvard, MA
Linda Hoffman of Harvard, MA, combines an international education in the arts with a strong sense of local environment and ecology. As a sculptor and curator for many local exhibitions, both permanent and temporary, her recent works have focused on attracting new audiences, including those with limited exposure to the arts. “I love the natural world, work with it, and believe that art can lead us to appreciate and care for the earth in new and valuable ways…For every project I have done, I always enjoy listening and responding to the individual site,” said Hoffman.

5. COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION: Railroad Street Youth Project
SITE LOCATION: Great Barrington Skate Park, Housatonic River, Great Barrington, MA
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The River Walk Sculpture Garden will be a component of the Housatonic River Walk, a volunteer-driven restoration project which rehabilitates and develops walking trails along a half-mile of the Housatonic River running through Great Barrington in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts. The site, along the Housatonic River, forms the eastern boundary of a mixed-use public space abutting the Memorial Baseball Field, the town’s skate park, and the Schneider Youth Building. This area is a hub of year-round recreation, particularly by teenagers and young adults.

This project will be part of a 200-foot new section of the River Walk. It will be comprised of a footpath, seating area, and permanent and “ephemeral” natural art works. Invasive species will be removed, and edible, useful, and native plants established as part of the project, which will also publicly showcase artwork utilizing on-site, recycled, living, and renewable materials. Green technology, such as solar-powered artwork, will be used wherever feasible. An unveiling ceremony at Railroad Street Youth Project’s 2009 Summer Solstice celebration will raise awareness and generate community buy-in and support for the maintenance and evolution of the space. This project will be a model of community collaboration that leverages the arts for sustainability.

ARTISTS: Will Machin, Washington, VT; Howie Sneider, Providence, RI
The team of Will Machin (Washington, VT) and Howie Sneider (Providence, RI) each bring experience as designers, collaborators, sculptors, and lead artists to a myriad of environmental and community focused public art projects in the New England region. “In keeping with our artistic and personal values, we work with site-specific recycled materials when we can, transforming their function and meaning often until they are unrecognizable, bringing new life to a site. By soliciting input and support, we will encourage multiple constituencies to take ownership of the site,” said the team.

6. COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION: Waterville Main Street
SITE LOCATION: “Head of Falls” along the Kennebec River, Waterville, ME
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Located on the banks of the Kennebec River, Waterville has long served as an important cultural, commercial and community center for Central Maine. Like many downtowns throughout the country, however, Downtown Waterville has suffered as a result of the development of the highway, strip malls, and big box stores combined with the gradual loss of traditional manufacturing jobs. Waterville Main Street, the City of Waterville, and other area nonprofits see the long-neglected waterfront as a tremendous asset in downtown and community revitalization efforts.

The site is a 12-acre, city-owned parcel of riverfront land called Head of Falls, which historically developed as the site of several textile mills and dozens of homes occupied primarily by Lebanese and French-Canadian mill workers. As the mills closed, Head of Falls became one of the most blighted areas in the City. Until recently, the City of Waterville turned its back on this property and lost its connection to the very river that played such a significant role in its history. In collaboration with the community organizations, the artist will develop a public art project that will acknowledge and pay respect to our industrial past while helping the community to reconnect to the riverfront and embrace its potential as a key piece of the city’s revitalization efforts.

ARTIST: Tim Gaudreau, Portsmouth, NH
An interdisciplinary eco-artist, Tim Gaudreau of Portsmouth, NH, has been involved in a variety of public art projects. Often collaborating with schools, the NH State Council on the Arts and the NH Department of Environmental Service, his projects draw in the community in an interactive manner, whether through sculpture, poetry, performance or photography. “Artists have responsibility as cultural instigators to ask questions, raise issues, and inspire new perspectives…this project has the potential to enrich and build community while activating a greater appreciation of the local environment,” said Gaudreau.


About NEFA
NEFA creatively supports the movement of people, ideas, and resources in the arts within New England and beyond, makes vital connections between artists and communities, and builds the strength, knowledge, and leadership of the region’s creative sector. NEFA is a 501 (c) 3 that operates with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England state arts agencies, and from corporations, foundations, and individuals.

NEFA administers nine grantmaking programs that support the performing arts, public art, and Native American artists. NEFA also leads projects and initiatives that range from the analysis of the impact of the creative economy to the creation of online tools which link and advance the regional, national, and international cultural community. For more information, please visit www.nefa.org or call [617] 951-0010.
 

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