The first couple years were primarily working with and supporting Blackstone Bicycle Works, for which I started a Friday Art Workshop with teaching artist Tita Thomas and South Side In Focus. This turned into an annual Bike Shop Art Show featuring collaborations with artists Faheem Majeed, The Seldoms, Dorian Sylvain, LoVid, Pastel Fractal, Sura Dupart, Tommie Hollis, and Sam Lewis. Later it gained a more entrepreneurial spirit resulting in a pop-up shop.
Then I started organizing arts programming for the broader organization.
Intergenerational Perspectives Series - Wisdom Baty organized artists mothers connections with Extended Practice, we screened films by high school students inter-splicing South Side archival film with cell phone video with South Side Home Movie Project, had an artist talk by Selina Trepp followed by a kitchen performance by Spectralina, Youth For Black Lives hosted a youth teach-in, and we had an art-making lunch with Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.
Environmental Concerns - friend, neighbor, artist, curator, and hortaculturalist William Hill had me over for tea and shared that he would like to do a show about Environmental Concerns. The rest is history! Kahari Black in conversation with Patric McCoy about art, the neighborhood and the environment; installations and activities with Cream Co.; a custom Norman Long sound walk of the neighborhood; and Earthkeeping film series with South Side Projections. Unbelievably, the closing event was the Chainsaw Lowering.
Chainsaw Lowering - There was this 16' chainsaw with motors on both ends sitting on the window ledge for years. Turns out it is a sculpture by Erik Peterson. After a number of conversations, I decided what it needed was a ceremonious expulsion. Erik and Bryan Saner lifted the chainsaw off of the window ledge with pulleys and ropes, it swung out and was lowered down to the center of a long table. Angel Bat Dawid improvised clarinet as it was lowered. Erik had made long, rough wood boards to use as serving platters, I made my sourdough bread, and guests were invited to bring all kinds of spreads to share. Angel then performed an improvised durge as everyone processed with the chainsaw to the street, where it was attached to Ken Dunn's recycling truck and was driven away forever.
Pictures and Sounds with WHPK - I worked with WHPK to bring their semi-annual showcase of experimental music and visuals to Experimental Station. The premise I suggested was that we invite one artist, who would invite the next, and so on, thereby creating more organic connection between the acts. I invited Norman Long, who invited Angel Bat Dawid, who invited Marvin Tate and Jonathan Woods. Jonathan Woods utilized home movies shot in the immediate neighborhoods to create visuals for Norman. I created a stop-motion film of Marvin Tate's relief sculptures to his song Me Day. Jonathan then screened this incredible collage of near future imagery of African love and fashion, while everyone, including the audience jammed. Wow! To top it off, Jared Brown djed between sets.
Local Ecology Desk - I collected debris from within the building and in a three-block radius. A number of artists utilized this material for projects at the building. Artists include Alpha Bruton, Joseph Harris, Anayansi Ricketts, Norman Teague, and Alice Smith Jones. A number of these collections (Carnegie Pencils, Local Circles, Chicago Strings) were gifted to the assemblage artist Marvin Tate at the time of my departure.
Unfurling Archive - A wide range of unorganized paper ephemera (internet printouts, postcards, hand written signs) were put into plastic binder sleeves for protection. A variety of groups visiting the building explored this material spread out over a long table as an alternative way of understanding the organization. An "Unfurling" is an activity I learned from Faheem Majeed, who got it from someone else.
Compare + Contrast - director exchange with Werkhaus, Hamburg. Over 10 days, Werkhaus Küchenkabinett member Dr. phil. Rahel Puffert and I compared our organizations. There are many similarities - bicycle repair, gardening, cooking, social engagement. A poster of questions that emerged from these conversations was produced and shared at a public presentation. The next step is for me to go to Hamburg!
Building Operations Group - Gathered representatives of the many entities in the building to discuss intersectional problems and opportunities for collaboration.