Simultaneously, current, recent and upcoming events on a similar footing have included the setting up of a new emerging arts/agricultural residency program on an old farm up Route 28 near Andes, just over the Delaware County border, while Woodstock has been exploding with a wild World Peace Project flurry of adorned peace signs and installations, as Phoenicia continues its Arts Upstairs-centered drive into energy art machinations. Best of all, word is spreading about the radical new two-story cat building/sculpture that the legendary Matt Bua – of MassMoCA and Oprah Winfrey-funding fame – is finishing off as a grassroots open-air museum for vernacular junk treasures from the surrounding community. And Mount Tremper Arts, outside Phoenicia, has started getting regular mentions in The New York Times, The New Yorker and other major media outlets looking for what’s new in the arts scene these days.
Something is happening here, and I’m glad that I don’t know exactly what it is – because, as a result, it’s feeling pretty visionary, uniquely adapted to our region’s mix of rural and urban aspects.
Images that I’ve seen online at the blogspot that’s Future 86’s only link to the outside world (the rest of its details are quite secret, unless one contacts them directly) indicate a host of young artists completely transforming an old farm with their work, from painted walls and sculptural reconfigurations of yards and gardens to sound bacchanals and – well, let me just say that it all looks like a lot of fun.
“This year we are opening up F86 to more experimentation and site-specific works and collaboration…so if anyone is interested in contributing in any way, from hanging a piece of artwork, curating, to organizing, food preparation and generally being a part of a ‘happening,’ please e-mail us ASAP, with ideas and suggestions,” their blog notes, after mentioning how their name evolved from the name that the old State Route 17 will be getting when it officially becomes an Interstate sometime soon. “Future 86 is both exhibition and experiment. Inspired by participation in other artist communities such as Skowhegan, Sundown Salon, High Desert Test Sites and the Arcadia Summer Arts Program, Future 86 aims to incorporate a wide range of contemporary practice: drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, installation, interactive performance, film and video screenings, relational aesthetics and spontaneous dialogue.”
Up in Delaware County, the three-year-old Andes Sprouts Society – a Catskills-based agricultural and arts non-profit, formed in 2007 on the former Ackerly farm on Route 28 – announced last week that it has received a two-year grant from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) to host 12 artists-in-residence in the next two years, and recently welcomed its first two artists this month. The Society is creating an environment and work center that promotes “interdisciplinary artistic experiments integrating emergent technologies and organic farming” and was funded by NYSCA’s Electronic Media & Film Workspace division. They’re located in a spectacular stretch of farmland that’s become home to a growing number of sculptors and installation artists, many of whom are using their former barnyards as impromptu exhibition sites.
The Society recently welcomed two artists-in-residence: media artist Stefani Bardin of Buffalo and Hernani Dias from Barcelona, Spain. Bardin will conduct research for a multimedia installation titled “The Pharmacology of Taste” that “examines contemporary American food culture and health,” with a specific focus on “foods that have been mediated by technology.” Dias will be designing and implementing information technology, electronics and agricultural apparatuses that will allow remote control of urban and mobile vegetable gardens.
The Society’s loosely knit organizers are repurposing of a 1940s kit barn will allow for six workstations for artists and programmers, as well as a construction workshop for Sprouts staff and volunteers. In addition, a dedicated server will be sited in the farmhouse, and the existing WiFi signal – courtesy of the neighboring telephone company – will be boosted to give Internet access to visitors with portable devices anywhere on the 23-acre property.
For info visit www.andessproutssociety.us. Or, for Future 86, visit http://future86.blogspot.com or call (845) 292-3669. For that Catamount People’s Museum, opening September 4, try visiting www.bobcathouse.blogspot.com. And keep your eyes peeled for the new, wherever you go.