MEANING IN ART: Idea Factory Recap

Collectives, co-ops and DYI: It's a family affair
In August of 2011, Minneapolis artists in residence at 17 Cox, Aaron Colantti and Rob Kaiser-Schatzlein had a question for Boston: "How do I start my own art space?"  It's a huge question and a frequent question for many artists who are tired of navigating existing spaces and would like to start their own.  The answer is complicated and simple, perhaps the synaptic answer is at some point you just start but you can't do it alone.

Colantti and Kaiser-Schatzlein reached out in the form of a round-table discussion for co-ops, collectives and DIY entities, called Idea Factory. Folks gathered from across Boston, Lowell, Beverly, Salem, Waltham, Lynn and converged on Montserrat College of Art to discuss questions like: In the first 3 months of running your space who or what was the hardest thing to deal with?  What was one of your initial goals that you have now ditched?  And specifically where do you look for $ on a daily basis?

The response from the Boston was so strong that it was decided unanimously to continue Idea Factory and take it to other venues across the area.  In October of 2011, Lincoln Arts Project, in Waltham MA, hosted Idea Factory #2, during its exhibition A Collection of Bostonia Collectives, curated by Fish McGill.  The evening was moderated by Caleb Neelon and focused on keeping the mentor system alive in Boston, older generation to younger generation, and how we can keep young artists in Boston. 

Mary Bucci McCoy, a participant of Idea Factory #1 and #2, asked to bring the event to Kingston Gallery, a co-op celebrating its 30th anniversary, in March of 2012.  Idea Factory #3 was by far the largest, with over 40 delegates from various galleries, programs, teams and movements across the Boston area.    Bucci-McCoy steered the conversation around lifecycle and lineage: Why was your initiative started?  Did you have a specific lifespan in mind when you started it?  Has the initiative evolved over time?  Is your initiative still artist-run?  If your initiative has ended, what were the reasons, what was the legacy?

Missing from the discussion were artists from Midway Studios who were simultaneously meeting over the expansion of Ops-Core, a military helmet fabricator, amidst their studios. News that the fabricator would be leaving rippled into the Idea Factory sending a cheer through a crowd, where issues of limited time, funding and space are always of the utmost concern.  Also missing were UFORGE Gallery (Jamaica Plain) and Lincoln Arts Project (Waltham); both prior Idea Factory participants who were hopelessly busy installing shows in their spaces, highlighting the heavy load of commitments that DIY entities have to balance.

Rose Olson (Kingston Gallery) and Liz Devlin (FLUX - Boston)
Post-event rumblings continue through Facebook posts, tweets and email chains amid rumors of an Idea Factory wiki-page.  At the discussion's end business cards were exchanged, spur of the moment proposals were pitched and cross promotions were hatched.  Will Yes.Oui.Si. collaborate with the Boston Children's Museum?  Will {the collective} perform at Howard Art Project?  Who will curate at the New Art Center?  Who's the next artist at unchARTed Studios?  Delegates are awaiting the execution of these ideas and others, and for the next Idea Factory coming to a Boston area venue.  Hopefully sooner than later.


Kathleen Bitetti (Independant Curator / Medicine Wheel Productions)
"A lot of my training came from the trenches."
"Write people thank you notes."

Kyle Gibson (Space)
"We all have the same goal to promote culture and create culture."

Robert Maloney (Kingston Gallery)
"Real estate is critical to the arts."
"Realize who's the keystone for your space."

Joceyln Almy-Testa (The Little Gallery Under the Stairs, Arts After Hours)
"No one gallery can serve all the populations."

Rebecca Trueblood (Boston Area Artists - Facebook Group)
"I'm very excited about being a Boston area artist.  I'm not interested in being anywhere else."

Joyce McDaniel (Boston Sculptor's Gallery)
"[In other galleries] sculpture was the thing that you fell over as you backed up from the paintings."

Marjorie Kaye (Galatea Fine Art)
"[This is] such a wonderful community... we have a little city over here."

Leah Craig (Howard Art Project)
"[We want] to test the waters beyond the school."

Judi Brown (Kingston Gallery, Pearl Street Studios)
"We've been here 30 freaking years."