Ring Ring. "Golden Foundation, this is Emma, may I help you?"
"Yeah, I'm calling about the barn..."
"Do you mean the Golden Residency?"
"That's right, the barn...,
and where are you again?"
The barn. Artists have defined it for us, even though we keep calling it The Residency. And what a first year it's been at the barn! Artists from around the world joined us in celebrating what seemed like only a dream 30 years ago, when my grandparents imagined small barns among the rolling hills of Chenango County, where artists could live and have studio space. What my grandfather Sam really wanted, though, was to enjoy the company of artists, as he made materials for them in a similar, somewhat larger, barn.
I'm beginning to understand the excitement and passion that Sam shared in his lifelong journey of engaging with artists, listening to their requests for custom materials, and transforming pigments and binders into concoctions to meet their needs. In many ways, developing this first year's residency program was just like Sam's journey. With the help of first year resident artists Jennifer Anne Norman, Erin Treacy, Elizabeth Blau, Karima Klasen, Mel Prest, Lynette Stephenson and Kevin M. Witzke, I am learning to retune my listening skills, develop targeted schedules for technical assistance, and above all, be flexible in providing as many opportunities and resources as possible within each 4-week residency. My parents and I are delighted to be the next generation recipients of Sam's legacy, the gift of being in the presence of artists.
What did this year's 4-week residency look like at the barn? Very little rest and much time for experimentation and exploration of ideas and materials. Thankful for the elevator and borrowed luggage tram, I assisted artists on the day of arrival with unpacking their supplies, choosing their apartment and studio space, and sharing a first of many meals together.
I'm grateful to these extraordinary artists, who have inspired me to realize Sam and Adele's vision, and to build better programming based on their experiences and feedback.
Mel Prest: "I loved the soft wood floor and the light of my studio. I would look outside and see all the local fauna: red fox, wild turkey flock, hawks, deer, tiny frogs, butterflies."
Erin Treacy: "My mornings at the Golden Residency were spent waking up with coffee and a book on my private little sitting area outside the sliding glass doors of my bedroom. I would then use the huge drawing table in my room to do some light sketching before heading to the studio. The studio was more than I could have imagined - tons of space, light and materials! Coming from NYC where space is extremely limited, the sprawling interior and exterior space inspired me to produce a lot of work, as well as afforded me the opportunity to work larger and really become part of the space."
After the artists got settled in, we continued the shock and awe of a new environment by walking down the road with them to Golden Artist Colors for the first of many technical meetings. Technicians Mike Townsend or Ulysses Jackson began with an exploration overview of waterborne materials. "An overview" is an understatement, as this process of materials exploration is continuous throughout the residency program, and often leads to more customized comprehensive technical sessions, based on the needs of the artists. For example, this year's additional requests focused on Grounds Development and Surface Preparation for both Acrylics and Oils, Airbrush Techniques, and Varnishing!
The staff in the Labs of Golden Artist Colors are continuously innovating new materials, and Artist Residents gained insights into new product development, including many products that haven't yet hit the shelves of the art stores. This is an insider's look into paint manufacturing, and the innovative process of materials development.
Although the residency program for 2012 was confined to working with waterborne materials, this did not negate the scheduling of a technical review of Williamsburg Oils with Technical Support Services Supervisor, Sarah Sands. (This year, we're happy to announce that the barn will be equipped for artists to work safely with oils too).
Applications Specialist Lori Wilson reviewed the latest in both commercial and fine art tools of the trade in the specialty finishes industry. Her work with world renowned decorative painters lends itself to insights in generating surfaces and layers that can be chiseled, carved, knocked down, built up, removed and revealed.
Technician Amy McKinnon shared the latest techniques in Digital Grounds development on surfaces ranging from aluminum foil to plastics to fabric and acrylic skins. Amy also shared further information in the process of Acrylic Transfers, continuing the research to improve and expedite the process.
And for those resident artists who were really interested in understanding the chemistry side of materials, Ulysses Jackson offered an intense technical session in the inherent properties of acrylics and oils, where they succeed, and where they fail.
Mel Prest: "Meeting the technicians was especially exciting because they are paint geeks as I'd like to be. Their knowledge and experience were super important to my residency experience." "It was really amazing to have such knowledgeable people to work with...." "I feel I learned EIGHT YEARS worth of information; like I just gained eight more years of my painting life. I can't think of anything that allowed me to grow in the painting realm more than the time at the Golden Foundation... even including graduate school."
Elizabeth Blau: "I really liked the structure of the tutorials, yet the flexibility of the programming. There was this low-pressure mentality, which lent itself to liberating studio production...."
Jennifer Anne Norman: "It was enlightening to visit the factory and meet the people who work so hard to make the paints and then go back to the studio to work them in a different way..."
Have I mentioned that artists receive all the paint materials they need during their residency? Since the technical meetings included hands-on materials experimentation and exploration of dried films and surfaces, the artists were then asked to check off product on their wish list and those materials were delivered to their studios within 24 hours. I loved delivering the boxes to them, seeing their delight!
Karima Klasen: "The Golden Foundation gave me all the support I could have hoped for. It was really about the work and to create a place where the artist can just work. I never had to worry about things because I knew there are many helping hands and brains around. I never felt like my questions and concerns weren't important. There was always an open ear..."
Elizabeth Blau: "Working with the materials was a gift beyond measure. My work was able to come to life without the worry of paint consumption."
Since the residency is about the exploration of materials and the ability to play with the products with no limits, artists are not required to have finished work by the end of their residency. Each group of artists offered Open Studios night at the end of their residency, and our upstate arts community of local individuals, businesses, galleries and nearby residencies, has been incredibly supportive.
The Golden Foundation's application process consists of an online application to be submitted by the announced deadlines. The deadline for applications for the 2013 Residency was extended one more week, due to Hurricane Sandy. We're thrilled to announce that the program has doubled for this year, enabling up to 18 artists to attend. Artists from around the world have applied, and were chosen by an independent selection committee based on the quality of their work. The selection committee members, as well as the 2013 artists in residence, can be viewed soon at www.goldenfoundation.org.
As we grow the program and the Golden Foundation endowment, our goal is to be even more generous in our services to resident artists. This includes financial support toward the cost of a residency.
As I reflect back on last year's journey, I'm thinking we too, will be calling it "the barn".