Question 4: What Makes a Good Artist Residency?

By: Matt Foss, assistant director on February 12th, 2014

On Wednesday nights, curator of education Catie Anderson and I play trivia at a local tavern. Before you judge this as a weekly convention of either nerds or drunkards, there is only a smattering of dweebs and the cohort knows how to handle libations.

Paul Rhymer hard at work at the Woodson

Previously, we were a team of four. After my daughter, Lucy, was born, my wife made the ultimate sacrifice, allowing me to continue going to trivia night. Additionally, Catie’s ex-boyfriend moved away to attend graduate school. Although we still manage to win occasionally, first prize $30 bar tabs are harder to come by.

Last October, sculptor Paul Rhymer was at the Woodson as an artist-in-residence. Given Paul’s background and diverse experiences, Catie and I knew he would be good at trivia. Conveniently, we enlisted to take him out to dinner on Wednesday night. Although Paul was apprehensive about participating, his competitive fire burned. As it got close to game time, we saw Paul eyeing the opposition. He was in. Question after question we were tested. Crispus Attucks, James Joyce, the 1975 Cincinnati Reds; one by one they came, and one by one we owned it.

Wendy leading a workshop

While the schedule of events for an artist residency typically is set in stone when the artist arrives, moments spontaneously happen that add to the quality of the experience. Wendy Brockman sharing “lunch time” with staff; Julie Bender meeting Jim Jasper, our architect and her biggest fan (who acted like a fawning schoolgirl around her); or staff members serenading Calvin Nicholls on his birthday all come to mind. Sometimes the most memorable moments of residencies are not planned.

Birthday card for Calvin

As Paul, Catie, and I sat with victory in hand, we agreed it was another successful artist residency at the Woodson Art Museum.

Jim Jasper telling his friends about meeting Julie Bender

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