Friday, April 24, 2015

Residencies at SixTwelve

One of the most important aspects of SixTwelve is our residencies. We've decided that when we've raised enough funds, we will have six different residencies per year in Oklahoma City and two per year at the Savannah location.  The goal is to have the residents in both locations create, collaborate, teach and plan community outreach programming focused on the arts and sustainability. We feel there is a need for more opportunities for artists, writers, chefs, musicians and those that take care of our earth. These integrated, creative experiences provide a supportive structure for meaningful and lasting transformations in individuals and our community.

While James and I are the first residents in OKC, Denise Duong, is our first resident to work in Savannah! I am in awe of Denise and have been for years. Her work is simultaneously playful yet serious, vibrant and haunting, and it can be found all over the walls of my house. When her rep, Joy Reed Belt of JRB Art at the Elms, generously offered to let her be our resident, I was moved. I'm grateful for Joy too. 

Katherine Sandoz, Denise Duong, Vesella Valtcheva-mcgee, Lori Judge, and Lane Huerta
Denise is staying in the Savannah cottage for three weeks, creating and preparing for her show at Iocovozzi Fine Art and Judge Realty. My friends Kim Iocovozzi and Lori Judge have graciously opened their doors to us so that we have a location to have an opening on May 1st and to show Denise's work for the month following. I can't believe how fortunate I have been to make these friends, because I had no idea where I would be planning to show our residents' work when I dreamed this up. I just knew that it would come to us, and it has!

In my visits to Savannah I have crashed Rotary meetings, attended art openings and music events, such as Savannah Music Festival and Savannah Stopover. I've eaten at so many great restaurants, visited Little St. Simons Island and Ossabaw Island and even drove up to Charleston and Beaufort. I have explored and experienced as much as I could of the area and culture during every visit, partly because I love it and partly because I wanted to do the best that I could to provide a good experience for both the people that we send to Savannah AND bring to Oklahoma City. It's important to be a part of a both communities if you really want to offer a balanced and reciprocal exchange.

We will be bringing our first Savannah artist, Katherine Sandoz, to Oklahoma City in June. We couldn't have asked for better, especially for the very first artist. Her work is of the highest quality and so is her ethic. This woman is creating all the time and I really respect her.  Her paintings are as deep and powerful as the layers of paint that she swaths onto the canvas or board, and her illustrations inspire a focused, magical curiosity. Katherine also creates wonderful, textural fabric works, collaborates on public art and in general, just never stops. I can't wait to work with her. 

We will bring in artists from all over the country, but the biggest exchange program we will provide will be with Savannah. This is a dream come true for me and I still have to pinch myself to make sure it's a realty.  I was laughing with one of my Savannah friends on the phone yesterday and discussing the things that I hoped for this exchange. She was helping me to figure out the best way to get the word out about Denise's show and Katherine's visit to Oklahoma City. I told her that I had to do all of this once in order to really figure out what I was doing, and that it felt like I was just in the beginning stages of learning how to ride a bike. 

She said that my group of friends were all there to help me and that I'd get my training wheels off soon. Erin is so funny! It helps so much to know that I have friends who are cheering me on (in both communities) and encouraging me to see this dream through. None of this would be happening without these brilliant, creative, imaginative, driven, focused and generous friends. Thank you LoriLouMeredithKevinSusanFrankKatherineLane, Erin, Kim, Jason, and Jamie. So grateful for you! 

(The residency application page of our website will be up soon! Just researching a little bit more to make sure I get it right!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Round 1! Ding!

Goodness, life is moving fast! In the past two and a half months we have seen some great things happen at SixTwelve. We've had so many dreams for what we could provide for our community, so once we finally opened our doors, we hit the ground running.  

James and I talking to the crowd during our Open House (see #2)

While James and his TradeShare lead facilitator, BC, have been getting ready for summer camps, I have practiced a lot of the different things that we want SixTwelve to offer through different kinds of residencies. I believe that when writing a paper, you can't edit until you've written something. The same holds true for creating a new entity or program. You have to start somewhere, so we've just tried to practice all of the ideas, gather experience, and then write up the policies, procedures and systems for everything. And this is what we've done so far:

1. We started after-school classes.

Lauren Zuniga & Denise Duong taught a literacy + illustration class called "HeadNoise"

Samantha Lamb & Erin Latham taught an art + sustainability class called, "Shades of Nature."

2. We had a grand opening, open house which more than 700 people attended!!!

James & I celebrating at the open house!

3. Went on the radio with the smart, witty and hilarious Mitchell in the Morning crew, KOKC 1520am talk radio. Scott and Kandyce not only let us come on and talk about our Mardi Gras party and again to chat up the spring break camp! And then to add even more goodness, they actually came to SixTwelve for events and helped us plant trees! (see #5)

Rick, Me and Scott Mitchell - photo credit: Rick's Instagram :)

4. We held a crazy-fun, amazing Mardi-Gras Ball, which will be our annual fundraiser for SixTwelve!

5. We held a Spring Break Mural Camp with Rick Sinnett and Jason Pawley. The very best reward/feedback came from Maxine's (a magical and hilarious camper) mom on Instagram. She said that the camp did so much for her self-esteem and artistic ability. THAT MAKES ME SO HAPPY!!! We even had an article in the Oklahoman about SixTwelve and our camp. I can't explain how grateful I am for Brandy McDonnell and all that she does to bring awareness to the arts and cultural affairs of Oklahoma. Thank you Brandy! We do feel like we're "Artfully Living the Dream!"


6. We've planted in our community garden and had Saturday morning work days with Paul Mays. We also held a composting workshop with Paul and a drought pod workshop with Ron Ferrell! We also had a tree planting workshop with TransitionOKC. They provided fruit trees so that we could have a small orchard and we couldn't be more grateful! We started seeds in my greenhouse at home so that we could have plants, and had a seed exchange for anyone who wanted to come. Thousands and thousands of seeds were donated! Our hope is to begin a seed library at SixTwelve for the whole community! SustainableOKC has also been a huge partner in rain barrel workshops, seed exchange, volunteer raising and donations we didn't expect. Our sustainability community in OKC is stellar and we're happy to be partnering with so many wonderful groups!

TransitionOKC Tree Planting Day

We love TransitionOKC and are grateful for their donation of trees and service!!!
Paul Mays giving the Compost 101 workshop at SixTwelve!

The day that we held the tree planting, Sherri and Chris Hultner, who created and own Edmond Active Magazine came out to interview me and to take some pictures. The result was an incredible, multi-page article in their publication with some gorgeous images! Thank you so much, Sherri and Chris!

Photo credit: Lisa Jean Allswede

7. We've partnered with some incredible people and organizations to provide poetry slams, private parties, workshops and really fun events!

Lauren Zuniga has been a great addition to our 612 team. She sets a really high standard!
Here is the crowd who came in for Lauren's poetry event with Andrea Gibson!!!
8. I've travelled to Savannah, GA with Denise Duong to set her up in our very first residency at the 612 Cottage. We're throwing her a show on May 1st at the Iocovozzi Gallery & Judge Realty and I couldn't be more thrilled about seeing this dream come true! We'll be bringing our first artist, Katherine Sandoz, from Savannah to OKC in June! And thus begins the residency exchange!!!! Yes!!!

We have worked so hard for years to prepare for these events and experiences. It makes me so happy to see them happen. When Katherine Sandoz's residency is over mid-June, everything that we have dreamed up so far will have come to fruition and we will have the systems in place to make it happen again and again. Our main goal and mission is "Sharing Tools to Build a Better Community." I think we're on track!

And this fall, I'll turn these things over to other people to work on starting the pre-school. So much to do! So grateful to have the opportunity!

p.s. Humongous thanks go out to my partner James Varnum, BC Summers, Lauren Zuniga, Denise Duong, Samantha Lamb, Erin Latham, Paul Mays, Ron Ferrell, Jennifer Alig, Sustainable OKC, Transition OKC, Dustin Green, our Mardi Gras committee, our board, Bumbershoot Media, Tracey Zeeck, Krystal Yoseph, Greg Elwell, Lori Judge, Kim Iocovozzi, Judge Realty, Iocovozzi Fine Art, and the countless volunteers who have helped us to get our start.

We especially thank James' and my generous families too. We couldn't have done any of this without them. We are so blessed!!!!