By Matt Cosper
May 31, 2018
A giddy energy infused the first two iterations of Charlotte’s wildly ambitious and successful Goodyear Arts project. The group’s stated mission of offering “innovative artists residencies and events in underused buildings” essentially felt like a gang of creators squatting in the rare pockets of unused space in the Queen City’s urban core. The knowledge was always there that these spaces would fall prey to the wrecking ball before too long and that much of what was created within their confines would perish with the building. And, until the demolition crews showed up, the Goodyear crew would build a temporary hive, vibrating with contagious creative energy.
In a late capitalist context where much of our cultural life can feel quite pre-fab, Goodyear stands out as defiantly organic. “Every resident shapes Goodyear Arts. It’s ever-evolving. To me, that’s integral,” Co-Director of Goodyear, Amy Bagwell said “This isn’t someone’s singular vision or agenda overlaid onto the wills and work of other artists. We’re all in this together, and the ‘we’ keeps growing. Everyone here is an artist. We take risks, and not everything works, but that means Goodyear Arts is a living thing and not a pattern repeating itself.”
This fertile chaos has produced some first rate art by visual artists, musicians and performers. It also produced some of the best parties that Uptown Charlotte has ever seen.
And now a new chapter. Goodyear has found itself an essential player in Charlotte’s arts ecosystem, attracting prestigious funders and settling down for three-year stint at Camp North End. In Goodyear time, three years is an eternity. The new space offers a host of event opportunities and there would seem to be a wealth of programming headed our way. First and foremost, though, Goodyear is a project centered on artist residencies. Goodyear’s Co-Directors Bagwell and Herman are firm in their philosophy that artists need time, space, money and community. The thought is that, given those resources, artists will create extraordinary work. So far it’s been true and, while Goodyear Arts has grown, the residencies have stayed at the forefront of planning.
The Amys (as Bagwell and Herman are affectionately known) put out the call for applications and engage an outside committee of local artists and curators to serve as jurors. Bagwell remarked, “We had 97 applications for nine slots. There’s a lot of good, interesting art being made in Charlotte, and clearly there needs to be ever more ways for artists to get to what we aim to provide (time, space, money, community)… We feel confident that we are bringing in for residencies, nine of the best artists who applied, but by no means are we asserting that there weren’t many artists making work of equal value in the rest of the applications.”
For this first round of residencies, four local artists have been in residence at Goodyear. Three of them are participating in the standard Goodyear Residency, with two months of free studio space, a cash stipend and a built-in community of alumni artists who are making work in the space as well. Debora Koo, Nathaniel Lancaster and Elisa Sanchez have been creating work in multimedia and painting. Nelly Kate Anderson has been the inaugural Research Residency fellow, spending one month in a more free-form residency designed to encourage exploration that will impact future work. Anderson is a designer and musician and will be performing at Goodyear’s showcase event on June 1st.
Ah, yes. The showcase. Those legendary parties mentioned earlier. There are a lot of elements that inform and contribute to the success of these events. While the tamales are certainly a factor and the free beer has a way of lightening the mood, I think Herman hit the nail on the head when she said, “The Residency Showcases are an all-out celebration. Not only of the artists that have been in residence, but also of our simple mission that when artists are given time, space, money, and community, that something great will happen.” It’s this sense of focused celebration of genuine creative accomplishment that makes these parties so much fun.
On Friday, Koo, Lancaster and Sanchez will show the work that they have been creating over the last two months. These artists represent what’s next, and their showcase promises to offer a good sense of the vibe at the “new” Goodyear. It’s also going to be a hell of a good time.
We spoke with this crop of resident artists about the bodies of work they’ve been crafting while in residence. Below are some of their thoughts:
Painter Deborah Koo:
“I am working on oil paintings of still lifes which include objects I have found and collected since I moved to Charlotte and stared the residency program at Goodyear. I set up a large table in my studio and put down my collection of objects organized (or disorganized) in different ways that connect to my thought process and life at this stage. I am also working on a painting series from photo references that also reflects my still life ensembles and processes.”
Painter Nathaniel Lancaster:
“Being around other individuals during your short time there, who were chosen for their drive and talent, helps foster a determined sense of community that most people don’t get to experience outside of leaving school. That’s one of my favorite parts of being here at Goodyear Arts.
I just try to make work that I’d like to see in the world. I never want a viewer to forget they are looking at a painting, which is why strict photographic representation is not as interesting to me.”
Illustrator/Mixed Media Artist Elisa Sanchez:
“The body of work I’m creating during my residency at Goodyear Arts is a collection of paper sculpture insects. I often explore the juxtaposition of two different elements in my work to create an uneasiness or discomfort. In this particular project, that means infusing insect anatomy with parts of the human body.
I work quickly once I have a strong mental grasp on the image or piece that I want to create, but often I have to wait through an incubation period for that concept to emerge.”
Designer and Musician Nelly Anderson:
“My work is about reclaiming dead space and intervening into uncomfortable silence to reckon with loss.
My residency at Goodyear is further familiarizing me with Charlotte, has me engaging with work that will push my work as a designer and musician, and working with new technology to employ moving forward. I’ve been researching ways to push my past work further in reading about relational aesthetics, urban planning, semiotics (specifically starting to learn ASL and exploring minimizing the written word), and erasure.”
Check out more on the Goodyear Arts: April/May Residency Showcase.
*Matt Cosper is a member of the Goodyear Arts Collective*