Crosstown Arts Program Looks to Concourse Future

LANCE WIEDOWER | Special to The Daily News

When Crosstown Concourse opens to the public in 2017, it will be the culmination of dreams, plans and vision by a number of stakeholders.

Mirroring those grand visions will be the Crosstown Arts Studio Residency Program, which will serve as a full-scale, multi-disciplinary artist residency program at Crosstown Concourse beginning in 2017. The program will provide studio space and shared meals to 16 artists at a time over the course of multiple short-term residency sessions that could last from two weeks to three months.

Lance Turner, a 2007 graduate of the Memphis College of Art, kicked off his session Sept. 1 as the first artist in the Crosstown Arts Studio Residency Program.

(Jamie Harmon)

But before the residency program takes shape at Crosstown Concourse, a precursor of sorts kicked off this month at Crosstown Arts’ space just across Cleveland Street from the massive redevelopment project. The program is a short-term project space that, like other Crosstown Arts programs, is the first incarnation of a more expanded version planned for the future.

“Although the studio residency program is a scaled-down version of what is planned for the Concourse building, Crosstown Arts is setting in place the core principles,” said Christopher Miner, managing director of Crosstown Arts. “We believe the greater creative community benefits whenever artists and musicians working in any field are pushing their work to a new, previously undiscovered place for them, as this invigorates the individual who in turn invigorates those around them. We believe that when the general public comes into contact with a vibrant creative community, that the public benefits by being inspired and challenged by an ever-growing creative exchange.”

The Crosstown Arts residency program offers an individual artist a new setting for focused, creative work. The program’s early incarnation will offer three, four-month sessions per year to one local visual artist per session.

Lance Turner, a 2007 graduate of the Memphis College of Art, was named the first artist and began his session Sept. 1. He applied for the residency in part because it offers enough space to work on large-scale installation, projected video and sculpture projects that he couldn’t have accomplished in his own space.

“I am the first one to have the residency, so I’m going to be setting the example for how it all comes together,” Turner said. “I have a few goals that I’ve set to pace myself throughout the residency period as far as what I should have finished. The residency will be most useful as a place where I can have the pressure of a public exhibition to help me focus on accomplishing a set of goals and become a better artist in a supportive environment.”

Turner will have access to a private, newly renovated 750-square-foot studio at no cost. The space is in the back of 424 N. Cleveland, adjacent to existing artist studios and the Crosstown Arts’ galleries and offices.

Turner – and future artists – has no specific work requirements during the session; he is free to use the space however it best suits his studio practice.

Like all future program residents, Turner will give an informal artist talk during an open studio night, which Miner said will be in October. He also will participate in a group discussion at the Crosstown Arts’ Open Crit program and participate in a short resident artist profile video.

He will host an exhibition at Crosstown Arts’ 430 N. Cleveland space at the end of his residency in December.

Turner said he wants to use the space to figure out the possibilities of spatial ambiguity in 3-D sculpture.

“I also want to figure out how audiences can participate in my exhibitions in a way that breaks from the basic artwork, gallery and viewer relationship,” he said. “As of now, I plan to cover my studio space in murals and have a more sculptural exhibition in the front gallery.”

Miner said as the residency program builds and eventually grows at Crosstown Concourse, it will work toward Crosstown Arts’ larger mission of cultivating Memphis’ creative community.

The artist-residency program also mirrors the future of the Crosstown Concourse in some ways.

“An important feature of the vertical urban village concept that is central to the Concourse project is the interconnectivity of a wide range of people in one place,” Miner said. “The residency program will be an ongoing source to bring visiting and local artists and musicians into that mix, as new people and ideas will be part of that interconnectivity with each new session of residents.”