Monday, October 18, 2010

Arts & Farts

At the conclusion of week #2 at Lochmara, I can finally say, without hesitation, that I am beginning to feel quite comfortable here. Our first week almost broke me, where the stress of working lots of overtime while still trying to overcome jetlag made my body just say ‘no’. I was also a little disheartened in the first week that I was only working in the Café, with no mention or guidance on my actual position while here- Arts Coordinator. However, a week later I believe I have an accurate grasp on what that position actually entails. It took some detective work, as not one person really had a full picture of the arts at Lochmara, but I have talked to a lot of people and have come to some conclusions. Conclusion #1: I need to be entirely self-motivated and proactive in this. Done. Conclusion #2: I can pretty much do whatever I want, within reason, of course. Awesome.

 The first person that I talked to about the arts here was Shayne, co-owner of the lodge. He is an artist-sculptor-builder-idea man, somewhat in the vein of my uncle Richard. Has great ideas, has started a lot of fantastic projects here, but is not necessarily the organizing type. His dreams have been adapted by various organization-minded people (Louise, his wife, as the main one) to create the Lochmara we have today. Of course, his ideas for the lodge are not something that everyone shares. Last year, the Arts Coordinator happened on her job by chance, was mostly thrown into it, and didn’t really have an affinity for art at all. Thus, Shayne hired an arts consultant out of Christchurch to help him sort out some ideas that he had. However, she wanted Lochmara to be something totally different, and in the end Shayne did not necessarily like the help she was providing. Like-mindedness shouldn’t be something to hire someone by, but sometimes you have to.

 While Shayne provided me with vague information about the art on property and a loose structure of what my duties would entail this year, it was Allanah, our Marketing gal, who defined my purpose a little more clearly. Allanah had been managing all the art and artists over the off season (June-Sept). Though she mostly just knew about documentation and contracts with artists for our galleries and workshops, it was through conversations with her that actually drew out for me what I should be doing from day to day. Then a series of random appearances this weekend at the lodge cleared my fuzziness even more. Kim Gabara, one of the more prominent artists showing on site right now, is a retired metal and wood sculptor who lives in Picton and is anal to the perfect degree. Meaning: he wants to communicate, he wants things done well, and he is willing to help in any way possible. Just yesterday I was working in the Café and a woman came up to me and introduced herself. “Hey! I’m Kate”. Uhhh… hi Kate. Was I supposed to know her? I looked at her blankly and she said she is part of the Eco Artists Trust, a group of environmentalists that are also artists, started by Shayne and Louise three years ago that create environment-themed or inspired artwork and use a portion of the profits to benefit environmental causes. Kate also happened to be a wealth of information about the history of art at Lochmara, which I had not heard yet, and besides that- she is an artists’ rights consultant, mainly working in contracts or ‘agreements’.

 Though I don’t know if I will ever see an end to the things that can be done with the arts here, I have developed something of a plan as to what I can do in the next months. First off, on property there is the main Gallery (called the Huia Gallery) and the Café as showing space. In the Café there is a small kind of separate section called the “Window Gallery” where artists can showcase their work. Really, this space does not strike me as any different, but that’s just me. There is also artwork outside (sculpture) and in the rooms, and jewelry and smaller pieces in reception. As all artwork on property is for sale, I will be handling art sales, and incoming artists and organizing shows in any and all gallery spaces.

 We also have an Artist Residency (more info on the Lochmara website) which offers a 1-3 week residency to basically anyone that applies (I ruled out one girl already because her email was f-ing WEIRD). The resident artist is housed here for free, and has total reign over the whole property, shop, and studio during that time, and are offered a $100/week stipend. I am in charge of contact, selection, and coordination of all residents (so it would be sweet if people I knew were to apply!)- I am super excited about this, especially to have some really cool people on property.

 The final aspect that I will be working on later in the season is coordinating artist workshops. Though Lochmara just provides itself as the venue for workshops, there remains an element of organization and communication that I must provide in order for them to actually happen. Artists that conduct workshops usually have their sh*t together and book everything for their students, but there is bound to be something that needs help from our end.

 I am only supposed to be working about 15 hours a week doing art stuff, so right now I am focusing on getting everything on property labeled, having consignment agreements updated, and improving our communication about the arts on property. I would like to develop more interest in what we have here, as it is really cool, but I think guests are uninformed about most of it. I am also readily accepting artist-in-residence applications, hoping to get the next few months chock-full of artists!

 In the meantime, we were able to get one more short trip into town, and I got a bank account. Hallelujah. I can get paid. Sometime I’ll have to explore Picton more seriously. Until then… 

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