Durham Storefront Project

DSP-LOGO-BW

The Durham Storefront Project is a volunteer-organized arts incubator. This year in partnership with the Carrack and Mercury Studio DSP is debuting their newest series of storefront window art installs. It is opening this weekend to coincide with the Durham Arts Council’s Art Walk Spring Market. The storefront project’s 2013 artists are Tamara Galiano Bagnell, sarah goetz, André Leon Gray, and Meg Stein. The window installations at four locations inside the Downtown Loop will remain up through May 11th.

from the Durham Storefront Press Release, "André Leon Gray will install at 106 W Parrish Street. Newly renovated by Bullocity, the site has a rich history, formerly housing an annex to the NC Mutual Life Insurance Company and Reformer Publishing Company. His installation will focus on the site's connection to Durham's Black Wall Street heritage. Gray's work comments on race and power and incorporates reclaimed objects and non-traditional materials."

from the Durham Storefront Press Release… “André Leon Gray will install at 106 W Parrish Street. Newly renovated by Bullocity, the site has a rich history, formerly housing an annex to the NC Mutual Life Insurance Company and Reformer Publishing Company. His installation will focus on the site’s connection to Durham’s Black Wall Street heritage. Gray’s work comments on race and power and incorporates reclaimed objects and non-traditional materials.”

Sadly, it feels like the Durham Storefront Project has gotten a little smaller every year the Clarion Content has covered it. This is the Durham Storefront Project’s 3rd year. This time they have backed it down to only four artists, albeit four remarkably talented, creative artists. Perhaps, it is because the number of un-utilized and under-utilized spaces in downtown Durham has decreased significantly in the last two years. To give just one example, Stacy Kirby’s brilliant demonstration piece about civic participation, “The Declaration Project” took place in the old Baldwin Furniture store now occupied by Organic Transit.

It is not entirely clear, however, the lack of vacancies is the reason for the shrinkage. Many installations in recent years have been done in actively used spaces. This year’s series is the first to pay the artists who are participating. And for the first time, there will be artists’ talks in association with the project; 5pm this Saturday at The Carrack on West Parrish Street.

Your editor corresponded with Jessica Moore of the Durham Storefront Project about these issues. Ms. Moore, who moved to Durham from Chicago in 2010, said that the intent was to make this year’s installations, “more of an artist-in-residence type of program for the spaces they are in and for downtown.” Moore has worked hard to get the artists paid for their creations, an all too often neglected issue that is imperative for artists to continue to work, live and thrive in Durham.

You can donate via their Go Fund Me campaign here. The funding goes directly toward the artists’ stipends.

from the Durham Storefront's Press Release, "Tamara Galiano Bagnell will install at 212 W Main Street. Bagnell is a local artist and owner of Modern Radar. She frequently works with reclaimed materials and emphasizes clean design in her assemblage pieces and installations. Bagnell’s solo show “A Small and Curious Nature” was recently featured in The Scrap Exchange’s Green Gallery."

from the Durham Storefront’s Press Release… “Tamara Galiano Bagnell will install at 212 W Main Street. Bagnell is a local artist and owner of Modern Radar. She frequently works with reclaimed materials and emphasizes clean design in her assemblage pieces and installations. Bagnell’s solo show “A Small and Curious Nature” was recently featured in The Scrap Exchange’s Green Gallery.”

There is no denying that the project has gone from sixteen artists in its first year, to six artists last year, to four this year. Moore noted that, “Some of the windows we were using in Five Points are no longer available, as well as the ones along Market Street.”

She was hopeful about next year, noting that, “in the future we will be refocusing on partnerships with existing downtown businesses for window space rather than empty spaces.” The Durham Storefront Project has some influential partners, Downtown Durham Inc., CenterStudio Architecture, the Durham Arts Council. One hopes that these stakeholders, along with The  Scrap Exchange, and new sponsors, the Carrack and Mercury Studio are driven to reverse the decline in installs.

from the Durham Storefront's Press Release... "Meg Stein will install at 108 Morris Street in downtown Durham. The building has had many faces over the years, from funeral home to furniture store to bowling alley, and Stein will once again transform the windows with her installation. Stein is an installation artist and sculptor living in Durham and is currently an MFA candidate at UNC Chapel Hill."

from the Durham Storefront’s Press Release… “Meg Stein will install at 108 Morris Street in downtown Durham. The building has had many faces over the years, from funeral home to furniture store to bowling alley, and Stein will once again transform the windows with her installation. Stein is an installation artist and sculptor living in Durham and is currently an MFA candidate at UNC Chapel Hill.”

Moore herself seems determined to reverse the tide and expand the dialogue, “When The Durham Storefront Project launched, we had several community discussion sessions about arts in downtown and it may be time for another since there has been so much growth in the past few years.” [edit. note: We couldn’t agree more.1]

Moore continues, “It is really important to continue talking about the elements that create a vibrant and fun downtown — arts and culture are key, as are the people who participate by buying art, attending events, etc. That’s a conversation I keep having — how to develop more arts’ patrons – people, businesses, developers and other organizations who are willing to back projects by area artists, especially large-scale projects.”

Thoughtful stuff. And for all the wonderful developments downtown, there has been only modest and inconsistent support for public art. The Clarion Content sat in a PAC 5 public meeting last night where one of our civic leaders urged the City’s representatives to finish updating the Downtown Master Plan, including The Open Space Plan and The Parking Plan. Absent such, haphazard, uninformed development will continue apace, while neglecting art and green space.

We think back to the hue and cry we heard a few weeks back when unannounced and unbeknownst to many the City of Durham slapped up some ill-conceived pergolas at the end of Orange Street.

An out of place pergola block the city's expensive commemorative signage

An out of place pergola blocks the city’s expensive commemorative signage

If you think that is some noise, the reality is, we, the city and citizens of Durham, have hardly begun to have the debate about development. It might have been better if we had, before the plans were earmarked for a new 26 story skyscraper, and a massive, neighborhood changing development on 9th Street.

Let’s hope the artists can continue to be part of the dialogue. We know City Hall hears the voices of the developers (they get private audiences). We hope City Hall and the current and future Mayor are listening to the people, too.

Keep an eye out for the Clarion Content’s upcoming series on development in Durham in these pages.

Follow the Clarion Content on Twitter here.

Durham Storefront Project installs will be on view through May 11th.

Image 3

From the Durham Storefront’s Press Release…”Artist sarah goetz’s installation will accompany her current exhibition, also at Mercury Studio, 407 A N Mangum Street. The storefront installation is interactive and, in reference to Mercury Studio’s mission as a creative co-working space, it will require two people working together to be fully experienced. Goetz’s work is characterized by intricate details that draw her audience into an intimate experience. “

 

 

Notes
1The fantastic focus groups organized by the Durham Arts Council for their Centerfest “re-think” could serve as a model.

Aaron Mandel
Editor in Chief at Clarion Content
Aaron Mandel is a writer and an accomplished public speaker. He is the editor and publisher of the Clarion Content, a multimedia and consulting company. For more than five years, the Clarion Content’s media arm, under Mandel’s direction, has covered Durham’s arts, politics, music, and cultural milieu. From breaking news stories to the hottest local acts, the Clarion Content is on the scene.

Mandel has been published in the Raleigh News and Observer, produced numerous art shows, and was recently a featured speaker at “The State of Publishing” conference held in Durham, NC.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply