This summer, artists have taken over Oakland’s Royal NoneSuch Gallery, turning it into a research space, a studio, and a hub for gatherings of all kinds. For three weeks at a time, George Pfau, Veronica De Jesus, and Amanda Curreri were, are, and will be Royal NoneSuch’s first three artists-in-residence. 3 for 3 is an experiment in gallery programming, an artist residency in which the participants maintain open studio hours and organize public events, putting their entire practice — not just finished pieces of art — on display.
From June 15 to July 9, Pfau was in the gallery four days a week, working on an ongoing project called Zombies Identified. Though Pfau has participated in previous residencies, this was the first one conducted alone, without an administrative buffer between him and the outside world. From the first day in the gallery he realized this was going to be a very different experience, one in which he would have a conversation with each and every person who entered the space during his open studio hours.
With a prime storefront on a bustling block of Telegraph between 42nd and 43rd Streets, the 260 square-foot gallery is never predictable in its offerings, but 3 for 3 is an entirely new venture. Traditionally, gallery hours at Royal NoneSuch amount to a total of six hours a week, not counting one-night-only events. With 3 for 3, organizers Elizabeth Bernstein, Carrie Hott, Carey Lin, and Kathleen Quinlan were able to expand the gallery’s hours and community presence while simultaneously handing over the reigns to a group of artists. While their divergent interests guarantee a range of inventive programming, in 3 for 3 they have ceded control completely.
The outcomes speak for themselves. Pfau’s closing event featured repeated screenings of a short video he made completely within the span of the residency. Between I and Us moves in and out of focus as musician and performer Augusta Lee Collins sings/speaks/screams lyrics Pfau wrote. “There was a line between us,” Collins intones melodically as he faces the camera. “There is no ‘they’ now, just us.” Pfau’s zombies occupy the space between alive and dead, person and thing, human and animal, and — as seen in this video — individual and group identities.
De Jesus just entered the second week of her residency and has already produced an astonishing amount of work. Wooden stands support collaged paper, foam core, and cardboard sculptures, depicting a tumble of cartoonish figures locked in what appear to be good-natured tussles between Jesus, Batman, and he-men. De Jesus appreciates the residency as a time for “honest feedback” from “people who don’t understand art culture.” “Are you connecting to this work,” she asks, “and it is connecting to you?”
Curreri, who begins her residency August 11, will use her time at Royal NoneSuch to continue work on a series titled Aunque, an exploration of subjective violence. “I’m used to working with the public to complete artworks,” Curreri wrote in an email, “but usually my studio space functions as my retreat from the public. I’m curious to see if this approach can propel the work into new territory by switching up the safety zones.” For artists like Curreri who are accustomed to private studio time, making work within a storefront contains a performative aspect that is altogether new. On August 24, she will host Jean Genet in the Aunque, a night of readings, interviews, and conversations — hoping to spark topics she wishes to broach within the context of her work.
While most residencies are based on the idea of distancing an artist from daily responsibilities and sequestering them in the woods somewhere outside the reach of cell phone reception, 3 for 3 has no such agenda. If anything, it brings the artists out of their studios and into a public dialogue, working towards a more complete representation of what it means to be a contemporary artist. By showcasing their working processes, their influences (through guest speakers and artist talks), and ultimately the work they create, the artists in 3 for 3 provide rare access to their diverse and engaging practices. Stop on by!
Veronica DeJesus will be at Royal NoneSuch Gallery through August 3. Amanda Curreri will be in residence August 11 through September 7, 2012. For more events and information, visit royalnonesuchgallery.com.