Friday 5 September 2014

From Here and There

Just returned from Colorado as part of the Elysium Gallery / Clara Hatton Gallery cultural exchange From Here and There.

Flying over Iceland

I journeyed with artists Dalit Leon, Richard Monahan and Jason and Becky, and after flying across Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the States, we arrived 
 in Fort Collins. Next day we met up with Philip Cheater, Lucy DonaldAnn JordanJonathan Powell and Sarah Williams who had all tavelled earlier, via New York. 

Mary-Ann KokoskaMelissa Furness and Marius Lehene gave us an amazing welcome, and laid on a series of events and tours to give us a flavour of life and the arts in Fort Collins, Denver and the Rockies. After a quick trip down to old town Fort Collins...

...we went to the University campus for an afternoon and evening of artist talks and student critiques. 

We were amazed by the investment in and facilities for the fine arts, which included a range of gallery and exhibition spaces on campus. We learned that students can gain teaching experience whilst on their Batchelor of Fine Arts Courses, which equips them with a start in lecturing. They then seem to be encouraged to move on to apply for posts elsewhere, allowing freshness and diversity in the institutions.

Next day Marius drove us to Denver, where he and Melissa took us to a range of arts spaces: Plus Gallery, Denver Art MuseumMuseum Contemporary Art, Robischon Gallery, David B. Smith Gallery

  Marius and Ann featuring in works by Matt Barton at MCA

I specially loved the artist residency spaces at Redline Gallery 

Homare Ikeda studio space, Redline  
Before taking us out for a slap up meal, Melissa introduced us to her students at University of Colorado, Denver, for a group critique with all of us visiting artists: both hugely enjoyable expriences.

Next day there was time to explore Fort Collins and a trail to the Rocky foothills by bike before the private view of the drawing exchange.

Mary-Ann, centre, at PV  

still from A Short Film About Drawing.

The last day before going our separate ways was spent in the Rocky Mountains, thanks to our hosts giving up their Saturday to guide us. Becky and Jason and I were driven by Tracy Stuckey, who battled his way through the crowds of National Parks Day, to show us some wonders...

...before a final fantastic meal in Fort Collins, courtesy of our hosts.

Sunday brought a shift in focus for me, as I was staying on for a few days, thanks to friend Caroline Goodwin, poet laureate of San Mateo County, California. I had already heard something of the connections between art and poetry at Fort Collins through Marius who introduced us to poetry students, and gave me a copy of his recent collaboration with writer Matthew Cooperman (Imago for the fallen world). Working with poets has been a central part of my recent practice: now, Caroline and I could review past collaborations and plan new ones, as well as have loads of fun. 

Caroline's photo of us both

Camille T. Dungy has recently taken up a professorial role at Colorado State University Fort Collins, and kindly invited Caroline (and me) to breakfast on Monday. Their converstions gave me an insight into the challenges of teaching and academic life in San Francisco and Colorado, and chance to compare their experiences with those of professors here in UK, but also to learn more of their pre-occupations and perspectives as poets.

Caroline and I went on to have some amazing experiences - including a dramatic shift in the weather, with hail and snow before more sun - hearing elk bugling in the Rockies, and musicians Mag and Paul playing fine country music. Special thanks to Mag for the wonderful welcome she and Andy extended to me in their home.

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