Santa Monica, USA, 9-15 November, 2000
Res Artis (the International Association of Residential art Centres) is a prestigious international association of important art centers which sponsor cultural exchange and artist residency projects. It holds annual members meetings in the countries of its various members. Previous General Meetings have taken place in Berlin, Ireland, France, India, and this year for the first time in the United States in Los Angeles.
The 18th Street Arts complex of Santa Monica is an institutional member of Res Artis and its Co-Executive Director Clayton Campbell is on the Executive Committee. 18th Street is the host for the Res Artis 2000 General Meeting November 9 through 15, 2000. The purpose of the conference was to expose the delegates to the rich and varied Los Angeles arts community, and to provide opportunities for the delegates to discuss potential cultural exchange projects. Clayton Campbell began planning the conference in September 1999 at the Res Artis Executive Committee meeting at the CAMAC Center, Marney Sur Seine, France. In the following year, an ambitious program was devised with outstanding support from the Los Angeles and California arts community.
Generous funding support was forthcoming, which defrayed the conference fee. This was important in light of the difficult exchange rate many currencies face against the US dollar. Funders included the California Arts Council, the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Getty Trust, the Japan Foundation, the Villa Aurora Foundation, the Shoshana Wayne Gallery, the Absolut LA International Biennale, the Patricia Correia Gallery, Art Source LA, the International Circle at 18th Street, the Getty Center, Self help Graphics, the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and the Board of Director of 18th Street Arts Complex.
As a result, 65 delegates from 25 countries attended the Res Artis 2000 GM. Additionally, many local arts officials, artists and arts curators were involved in the conference schedule. The conference program successfully engaged scores of artists who were able to present their work and meet the conference delegates. Quite a few concrete projects have been set up as a result, involving curatorial relationships with LA curators and foreign art centres, and proposals to bring California artists to a variety of centres around the world for artist residency programs.
The outstanding program sought to introduce the delegates to the multi-cultural diversity of Los Angeles, and to the richness of art making practices found here. Evaluation forms were given to all of the conference delegates. We would like to share with you the thoughts of Ursala Hanes, Director Atelier Fourwinds, Aurielle, France-
To 18th Street and the many colleagues who worked together to make this 7th Res Artis General Meeting in Los Angeles 2000 such a marvelous experience for us all:
The following impressions and conclusions come from my own profound personal point of view reinforced by the opinions of many Res Artis members with whom I have talked during the past few days- in particular representative of centres from Europe and many other countries who have never visited Los Angeles before.
In four days you have worked a near miracle in somehow allowing us to taste the extreme contrasts which make up the complex weaving together of artists and people concerned in the arts at all levels in this city. We have touched the academic elite, sublime design with ultimate exhibition possibilities for their superb collections of the J Paul Getty Museum, LACMA, UCLA Hammer, Japanese American community Cultural Center as examples. Then in deep contrast experienced the earthy, socially and politically aware levels shown in such centers as 18th street, Self help graphics and Watts Towers Art Centers, where fine work goes on with gut level passion and people are warm and welcoming.
We have begun to understand that it is this interaction which makes up the rich tapestry of the “Art World” in all its aspects in this great city today.
Certainly this is something we could never have achieved on our own in such a short time span and delineated the true value of Res Artis in brining together artists and those who work to further the arts from many diverse cultures throughout the world.
A heartfelt thank you for opening so many doors and expanding our horizons.”
As testified to so eloquently by Ursala Hanes, the key to the success of the conference was the exceptional interaction between the delegates and the arts community of Los Angeles. The conference began officially on Friday November 10 with an opening luncheon at which Roella Hsie Louie of the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department welcomed the conference to Los Angeles. From there, the conference moved to Santa Monica to visit the 18th Street Arts Complex and its constituent artists and arts organizations. The Complex presented a studio open house for three hours, in which the delegates were given tours and able to informally meet all of the 18th Street residents. This included organizations such as California Lawyers for the Arts, Electronic Café International, Highways Performing Space, Crazy Space Gallery, EZTV, Lightning Bolt Pixs, and resident artists Lita Albuquerque, Michael Barnard, Michelle Berne, Clayton Campbell, Cynthia De Santis, Joan Hotchkis, Dan Kwong, Keith Antar Mason, Jeannine Parker, Nadia Reed, Jerry Seay, Denise Uyehara and Susan Woodruff. The day culminated with an exhibition opening of residents art work which was open to the public. A substantial effort had been made to publicize the event, and four hundred artists and interested persons attended the event and made contact with the Res Artis delegates.
On Saturday November 11 the delegates toured the “Made In California” exhibit at the Los Angeles county museum of art. This gave them a valuable context in which to place their California experience. LACMA Lab Director Bob Sein addressed the group at length, stressing the interactive nature of LACMA Lab and how it brings California artists into contact with the public and LACMA’s collection. The LACMA Lab exhibit was an interactive installation by 11 prominent California artists who had designed and installed child friendly environments. The delegates experienced this first hand during an incredibly busy day where attendance by the public was maximum. They came away with a strong model of how Californian contemporary artists interface with education and institutions.
From there, the delegates toured the Bergamot Station Gallery Complex and visited 30 galleries and the Santa Monica Museum of Art, many of which were exhibiting emerging and mid career Californian artists. In the evening the group attended a special program of readings at the UCLA Hammer Museum. Marisela Norte, Hope Edelmann, Steve Erikson, Keith Antar Mason and Bruce Bauman were the featured readers. The event was open to the arts community being publicized through a mailing, and 300 persons attended.
On Sunday November 12, the delegates visited the Getty Museum, and were hosted by Thom Rhoads of the Getty Trust and Charles Merriwether of the Getty Research Institute. Mr. Merriwether spoke to the conference at length about the role of the Getty Research Institute vis a vis residencies and artist archives. From there, the delgates traveled to Self Help Graphics in East Los Angeles to meet the Chicano arts community. Director Tomas Benitez invited over 100 artists to mingle for the afternoon and dinner with the delegates. They were taken on tours through the Self Help facility and Day of the Dead exhibition.
On Monday November 13 the Res Artis delegates attended a concert of performances at the Japanese American Community Cultural Center. Performing artists Michael Sakamoto, Dan Kwong and Denise Uyehara performed to the conference and the public in the 600 seat JACCC auditorium. Director Eric Hayashi and the Trustees of the JACCC welcomed the delegates with a reception in the JACCC Gallery. The performance program was sponsored by the Japan foundation of Los Angeles, who provided the funds necessary to mount the concert. In the evening the group visited the Watts Towers Arts Center, and were hosted by the artists who exhibit their work at the center. It was an eventful ending to the conference to be exposed to the richness of the African American arts community of Los Angeles.
The overall program stressed maximum involvement with the California and Los Angeles arts community, creating opportunities for meetings and talks at every juncture. Many tangible projects resulted from the conference. For example, Self Help Graphics Director Tomas Benitez was invited to be a nominator for Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbertide, Italy. This allows artists from East LA to be considered for exchanges in Europe, an opportunity which would never have existed unless the Res Artis conference had been held in Los Angeles. Many other opportunities have arisen between delegates and their centres, and the artists and arts organizations whom they were in contact with during the conference. The great success of building bridges between many different cultures and the different communities of Los Angeles will be the resonating long term success of the Res Artis 2000 General Meeting.