Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Making It: The Hown's Den

This summer we're pleased to partner with Temporary Art Review to share the work of cultural workers raising kids with a broader audience. Temporary Art Review is an international platform for contemporary art criticism that focuses on alternative spaces and critical exchange among disparate art communities. They're profiling projects that support the work of artist-parents, and we suggested the Hown's Den, a nomadic and domestic exhibition space where artists are invited to transform the living spaces of its three inhabitants:

Amy Kligman, "Interruptions"

The Hown's Den
Current Address: 63 Meade St. Buckhannon, WV 26201
Contact: Crystal Ann Brown
Email: crystal@thehownsden.com
Website: www.thehownsden.com
Open Hours: by appointment or at a scheduled event

How is the project operated?
 The Hown’s Den is not officially a non-profit but we would like to be some day.

How long has it been in existence? 
Almost 3 years, our fist official show was January 23, 2014.

What was your motivation?
 I wanted to experiment with an art environment that was family friendly and non-exclusive and to play around with a non-traditional art venue. At the time my family had just relocated from Athens, Ohio to Kansas City, Kansas. My partner and I were fresh out of graduate school and I was at home most of the time with our then 1-year-old while my partner worked. Faced with this new community and my role as a stay-at-home caregiver I craved inclusion into our new art scene and thought what better way to get involved in the community than to invite artists and people into our home for an art experiment. Now we have been happily experimenting in Kansas, Missouri, and West Virginia ever since.

Caitlin Horsman, "_Place_Plateau"
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project: 1-3. I usually promote and organize on my own with the occasional help from my partner, but I am always working with the artist(s) installing their work depending on their individual needs.

How are programs funded? 
In the past we have had fundraisers like silent auctions to help fund the travel of artists coming to install work, but we are still working out other avenues of funding for the project as a whole. Currently, we are unable to pay artists for their involvement, but I hope to change that in the future.

Who is responsible for the programming? 
Myself (Crystal Ann Brown) and the artists(s) involved.

Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
In the past there has been one exhibition every few months, however in our current location we are limited in what we can have installed in the space, so we have started a miniature installation project titled *not to scale that will exhibit multiple shows/installations seasonally.

What kind of events are usually organized?
 We mainly host art exhibitions, but we have hosted a backyard film festival and artist talks. We are currently looking at experimenting with lectures and presentations that compliment the miniature series *not to scale, and we are always open to proposals for other events from artists.

How is your programming determined?
 We move pretty organically, I try to gauge what my family can handle considering we live with the work and then coordinate programing from there.

Do you accept proposals/submissions?
 We do not have an official application process but I will look at proposals sent to the email addresses listed above.

Casey Whittier, "Translations and the Memory of Things"
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
 I try to work with artists that are willing to experiment with a nontraditional art venue, while keeping in mind that the artwork will live with us and be regularly exposed to young children. I look for work that engages domestic architecture and invites imagination.

What’s working? What’s not working? 
I have found that having events on Saturdays between 11-3 works the best for families including my family. This is important because we aim to be more family friendly. I did not always do that and even now it’s hard to hold openings during that time because other art events like art walks are held in the evenings usually on a Thursday or Friday evening, which we try to piggyback on to increase audience turnout.

Having the artist(s) here for the opening has always worked well, the atmosphere allows for a more casual and honest dialogue between the artist and audience.

Creating an environment where the artwork is more integrated into the domestic setting allows for a more intimate reaction or response to the work, which is always a good thing.

In the past, artist presentations, lectures, and film screenings have not worked as well in comparison to art exhibitions, which I attribute to my focus being torn between the needs of my child and that of the presenter or film. That being said, I am interested in trying to have an in-house babysitter for nights when we will have presentations and screenings.

Cory Imig, "Linear Spaces"
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community? 
We move around a lot because of our career paths and due to that it seems that we are moving from one community to the next. Within each community I try to engage the neighborhood that we live in. I invite neighbors to events and try to encourage people to look at art in an environment that might be outside of their comfort zone. We are use to looking at work in institutions, but being invited into the intimate space of a stranger’s home can be uncomfortable for some. It is important for us to offer an alternative space to engage in and respond to art. I also hope to perpetuate family inclusivity in the arts by engaging the domestic space as a place to look at and discuss art.

What idea are you most excited about for the future?
 I’m really looking forward to the miniature installation series *not to scale. This series was created out of not knowing how to continue on with The Hown’s Den once we moved to our current location in Buckhannon, West Virginia. We are renting and are very limited in what we can and can’t do to the interior of the home so as a solution I am building miniature mockups of rooms in our home, that I then mail out to the artist. Once the artist receives the miniature they are free to do whatever they want with the room. There are limitless possibilities for installation. Once the work is complete the artist will send the miniature back and we will hang it from the ceiling in the room it was intended to be a miniature of. We will host an opening at The Hown’s Den for our local community, but will also have a digital opening for more intimate photos of the miniatures. I am currently pairing up 2-3 artists to exhibit their miniatures at the same time, because I love the idea of bringing artists together and seeing the dialogue between art works unfold.

Dawlene-Jane Oni-Eseleh, "Inside Voices"

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