I recently got together with local artist/educator Steve Vande Zande at Brewed on Brady Street for an early morning cup o' joe and a bit of a chat about his latest project, RedLine Milwaukee. Though his partner in this artsy endeavor, Lori Bauman, was unable to join us, Steve gave me a huge amount of stellar intel on what the new incubator plans to offer artists and the community at large.
Much like the underlying collaborative philosophy of the project itself, the idea for RedLine was a shared one. Along with Laura Merage, founder of RedLine Denver, and other artists/educators whom they've known and worked with in the past, Steve and Lori developed the notion of creating of a place where artists of all disciplines could work, communicate, learn and collaborate with each other in a safe atmosphere. In addition, the site would serve the greater community by offering education programs and resources that are otherwise not readily available.
While this isn't an entirely new idea--during our talk, Steve pointed to several projects that were sources of inspiration for RedLine, including Momenta Art in Brooklyn and ICA's The Club in London--it is a refreshingly different model for the Milwaukee area, and boy howdy could we use more of those.
An intrinsic aspect of the RedLine philosophy is the view that cross-pollination between artistic mediums is the most beneficial and productive way to work and grow creatively. This type of interdisciplinary approach has increasingly found favor over the years, but it is most often expressed solely in the form of words. To break this pattern of yakking instead of acting, RedLine Milwaukee is encouraging emerging and mid-career artists that practice of all kinds of art--visual, performance, dance, music, poetry, fiction, etc.--to apply for one of the 12-15 spots available in its Artists in Residence Program.
Those accepted into the two year minimum program will have an affordable studio space in which to work and generally ponder their next brush stroke, movement or word, as well as opportunities to interact with and inspire each other. Resident Artists will also receive help and encouragement from three or four accomplished artist mentors from a range of backgrounds and disciplines, and will participate in 2-3 exhibitions per year.
In exchange for all these niceties, Resident Artists will be expected to give back to the community--another cornerstone in the RedLine model--through the project's Education Program. Primarily focused on teens, the program is designed to educate, support and engage youth in an artistic and culturally significant manner, thereby promoting self-confidence and building self-esteem, which is good for everybody. Resident Artists can teach an art class, give a lecture, lead a workshop, mentor a teen--whatever the artist can offer to fill a need.
Though RedLine is all about opening the doors to every type of art, it does have a core medium around which it revolves and that is printmaking. When I asked Steve why they had picked this particular art form, he replied that printmaking is a good starting point for all media as it lends itself not only to visual but to linguistic expression. The fact that the finished piece can be fairly quickly produced and easily transported was also an important factor as the anticipation of having members of the community utilize the equipment had to be taken into account. In other words, as a gateway art, it's much easier and exciting for a teenager to create a print in one day, bring it home and proudly say, "Look what I made!" than it is for him/her to lug a heavy, breakable pot that may have taken a week or more to make, and by then the thrill could be gone.
RedLine's fully functional in-house print shop will offer intaglio, callograph, relief, monoprint, silkscreen and photo lithography, and educational support, and will be open to anyone who wants to use it, with specific times set aside for Resident Artists, teen and school programs. The fee schedule for use of the print shop is still in the works, but those as well as membership fees will be posted on RedLine's website in the near future.
The building chosen to house RedLine Milwaukee is located at 1422 N. 4th Street and is currently undergoing renovations to accommodate a sizable exhibition space, artist studios, the print shop, a lending library, and a multipurpose space called the Red Room. The target opening is set for Gallery Night in July, 2009, with Resident Artists moving in that June.
Anyone who would like to get involved, either by applying for the Artists in Residence Program, becoming a member and/or volunteer, or donating funds and/or equipment, should contact RedLine Milwaukee's program manager, Julie Anderson, by sending an email to Julesa1011 at aol dot com.