Who: Maesie Speer is Arts Center Programs Manager for Caldera, the nonprofit serving Central Oregon and Portland youth through arts and environmental programs. Rather than shutter its large and gorgeous facilities on Blue Lake in wintertime, Caldera hosts monthlong residencies for artists January through March. Speer spoke to GO! about the program and the public Open Studio events at the end of each month, which enable the public to check out the goings on. The first Open Studio is from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 27. Contact: calderaarts.org.
Q: How do you get word out about the residencies?
A: A lot of different ways. There are a number of professional organizations that we are allied with to publish the information about the residency, and a lot of artists are keyed into those. So the web is definitely our friend. Our residency has become well-known enough that most folks are finding us already and are waiting for the application to come out. More recently, we’re thinking about how to get the word out to communities of artists who wouldn’t necessarily think of a residency as something that they could take advantage of. We have a new advisory council that is specifically working with us about getting the word out about Caldera and the residency program to communities of color around Oregon specifically. It’s a big priority for our program to support artists of color.
Q: How do you select the artists in residence?
A: It’s a long process. We have the online applications, so applicants will tell us a little bit about their creative practice. They’ll make a proposal for how they want to use the time, submit a CD and also some work samples. This year we had 204 applications. Those are reviewed by three different panels — one literary, one performing arts and one visual arts. Those panels are made up of artists and other peers in the artistic community, mostly from Oregon. … Then those folks make those selections, and it’s my lucky job to get to tell people the good news.
Q: Do you also have to send a sort of Dear John letter to those who didn’t make the cut?
A: I do, which is a little less fun, but we’ve gotten such a large number of applicants the last couple of years — this round was our largest applicant pool ever. We took a huge jump from 160-some applicants to over 200. Something’s happening; something’s in the air (laughs). It’s nice to be able to say, “You didn’t make it, but it was super-competitive.”
Q: Do you get a lot of people at the Open Studios?
A: Yeah, we have about 80 people each month, and sometimes it’s standing room only in the library. But it’s awesome. We hear from people who come every month, and that it is something that they look forward to all year long, because it is an opportunity to connect with artists who are working at the forefront of their fields, who they wouldn’t (otherwise) have an opportunity to connect with. It’s an opportunity to see people perform, walk through their studios and talk to them. It’s not just a presentation; it’s a Q&A. And also to be in community with others in the area who value the arts.
Q: Do you follow up with Artists in Residence after their month, to hear how their projects go once they get home?
A: … A lot of artists, I’ll get on their mailing list, so I’ll hear. I just heard that Genevieve Hudson, who was one of our Artists in Residence in 2017, just published a novel that she was working on while she was here. … Pepper Pepper, a performance artist from Portland, recently premiered the solo work he was working on during his residency this past January. It’s fun to be able to amplify that, too, to let our community know what our artists are up to, on social media and stuff.
— David Jasper, The Bulletin