Early in 2013, the artists of Powerhaüs Studio announced their idea for the Powerhaüs Artist-in-Residence Program, a juried three-month residency at the studio facility for one fine artist and one fashion designer. Along with that call for applicants, they named David Dadone of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and Project Runway celeb Mondo Guerra as jurors.
PAIR was conceived as a free ride, rent-wise, with built-in mentoring, and included additional opportunities, such as a Show and Tell blog spot at westword.com. It was a bold idea and one that came with great responsibility, and it even proved a small success in its first round with inaugural awardees, painter Charlie Boots and designer Francis Roces.
"At this stage of my career -- hell, at any stage in an artist's career these days -- exposure to relevant figures in the field is vital," says Boots of his PAIR experience. "In fact, it appears to be more vital than any technical skill in any medium, though I certainly hope that my work does and will continue to display technical skill. PAIR dramatically sped up the process of acquainting myself with my community.
"These opportunities are as rare as they are beneficial, and I certainly don't take for granted that, while making the work is easy, promoting it is hard as hell," he adds. "For this reason, I will always appreciate what that program provided and will seek to stimulate similar programs for other artists as my career progresses."
But after launching a second PAIR search late this past summer, Powerhaüs announced that, in spite of such successes, it was calling it quits and would return all entry fees to the new applicants.
With this announcement comes a lesson for other artist groups considering similar enterprises. "PAIR had potential to be a wonderful program, and we loved the idea of it, but in the end, we realized that as we were all still struggling in our own businesses, it was too difficult for us to subsidize space for others," notes Powerhaüs member Lauri Lynnxe Murphy.
Continue reading for more about the Powerhaüs PAIR program. "It gave us a chance to give back what we learned, sometimes doing something for others can make you feel great, and it did that for me," adds studio-mate Mona Lucero. "There were many times when I bounced ideas back and forth with Charlie Boots about life and art. Francis and I talked about the local fashion scene and what we were doing with our own lines. Those were great moments for me. I believe they were beneficial for them, too. I was definitely not happy about not going forward with PAIR. The decision was based on money or lack thereof, since part of our vision was that it should be funded by submissions. But beyond that, it did take a commitment of time, such as administration, online promotion, editing blogs and regular meetings regarding the program."
That doesn't mean Powerhaüs Studio won't look for new ways to support the arts community. "We do remain committed as artists to mentoring other artists and designers, especially people who are just starting out, so we will look for ways in the future to introduce that element back into Powerhaüs," Murphy says. "In the end, we hope it was a successful experiment and a good experience for our residents. The more the community supports one another the more it helps us all, so perhaps, if nothing else, it served as an example of a model that almost anyone could do that had a studio and some time and energy to give towards mentoring someone they believe in. Similar to Patricia Calhoun starting the MasterMind awards, all it takes is an idea and some commitment to making things better for others."
And the need is there, Lucero affirms: "My biggest regret was that in talking with the artists who submitted for the second go-round, I heard their disappointment. I have met with the few design applicants individually to talk with them about what they want to accomplish with their fashion lines. Just one more designer to go...."
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