Pokoik and Vandenbroucke dare us to explore the meaning of art and art-making. Their exhibitions are primarily artist-curated: a distinction that they say makes for a slightly different perspective. Artists offer the inside-of-process perspective, the differing relationships of living connections. Residencies are given to up to ten artists at a time throughout the year, for lengths of time from three nights to three weeks, during which time they have full access to the studio space.
The churchlike studio was designed to be a large rehearsal space and a small performance space. Vandenbroucke says, "The space is given over to one group at a time, with 24-hour access. For New York artists, this is so rare; nobody disturbs them. We support whatever they need to do in their process."
Pokoik emphasizes that this is an artist-run center. Almost everything presented at the Festival is, in part, worked on here, which he says forms a cohesive whole - the importance of solitude for the process of making art and the public aspect of presenting it. The couple describes how the work in which they're each involved in the City becomes a direct through-line to this community. Pokoik says that the artists who spend time at MTA represent the newest "downtown" work being made, even though Downtown has moved to Brooklyn or Berlin. "We're trying to bring the best and strongest work up here, the most exciting voices."
The third annual Summer Arts Festival opens with a free extravaganza event this Saturday, July 10 on the communal grounds of MTA, with a truly extravagant lineup of artists and performers. From 3 to 7 p.m., enjoy a multiplicity of works that includes NOX by Merce Cunningham Dance Company members Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener; ETHEL, a string quartet performing work by Terry Riley, John King, Phil Kline and Julia Wolfe; Event, performed by MCDC members; and at 6 p.m., a pig-roast. For $15, visitors can enjoy the succulence of the summer with portions of pork and/or terrific vegetarian dishes straight out of the garden.
This event is billed as kid-friendly; other exhibitions should be screened by parents. And did I say how important it is for them to elicit audience interaction? They want viewers to abandon fear of new work, and they even invite reviews from audience members (check their website for this opportunity).
MTA's impressive lineup of exhibitions, including contemporary dance, theatre, music and visual art, runs on Saturdays through August 15, with the opening reception for Seven Summits to be held on Friday, July 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. A group photography exhibition curated by Matthew Porter, the show features 14 pieces by seven artists: Michele Abeles, Shannon Ebner, Roe Ethridge, Miranda Lichtenstein, Arthur Ou, Michael Vahrenwald and Hannah Whitaker, each artist being represented by two works that reframe the tradition of expedition photography within their independent creative visions.
On Saturday, July 17 at 8 p.m., groundbreaking dance and music artist Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People present Untitled Project with Jenny Holzer but I'm not allowed to give it a name yet and HEAVENS WHAT HAVE I DONE. On Saturday, July 24 at 8 p.m., it's the world premiere of Census by Will Rawls, named as one of the best dancers of 2008 by The New York Times. Rawls explores the idiosyncratic origins of movement, sound and language to see how these expressions formulate larger patterns of perception, meaning and storytelling.
Karinne Keithley performs a cycle of spoken tales with songs, dances and video productions in Montgomery Park, or Opulence on Saturday, July 31 at 8 p.m. A tribute to three fallen greats of dance is presented by Foofwa d'Imobilite in his Pina Jackson in Mercemoriam, to be performed on Saturday, August 7 at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday, August 8 at 3 p.m. This US premiere honors Michael Jackson, Pina Bausch and Merce Cunningham in a choreographic comedy. Lastly, Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly's Moving Theater performs Trio Triage on Saturday, August 14 at 8 p.m. Their collaborative work straddles contemporary dance, experimental theater and visual art performance.
Not the least of Pokoik and Vandenbroucke's offerings, their "Friday Night Food for the Arts Barbecues" will give visitors the opportunity to meet and greet the artists in residence at MTA over a community meal made fresh from an organic garden on the grounds. Weather permitting, these 7-to-9-p.m. gatherings will include a sunset watch and campfire. On Friday, July 23 meet Karinne Keithley of 53rd State Press, Ursula Eagly and Sara Smith, who will share their writings on the new wave of sincerity in dance. On July 30 the Katie Workum Dance Theater will stage excerpts from its work-in-progress, Herkimer Diamonds.
The first Friday in August will feature a choreographic duel between Cory Nakasue and Aynsley Vandenbroucke, plus a musical performance by new-media artist, writer and theorist Alan Sondheim. And on Friday, August 13 Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly discuss their work in relation to critical questions of contemporary performance practice.
Exhibits are open to the public by appointment and on Sundays after all events from noon to 6 p.m. Tickets for most events are $15, and are available in advance at www.smarttix.com, toll-free at (877) 238-5596 or at the door. A season pass offering admission to all performances and all Friday Food for the Arts Barbecues is available for $90. Mount Tremper Arts is located at 647 South Plank Road in Mount Tremper. For extensive details about the Summer Festival and other information, visit www.mounttremperarts.org or call (845) 688-9893.