- BLIND WHINO ART RESIDENCY NARRATIVE -

 

The Artist-in-Residency program at Blind Whino will create an artistic niche in DC, encouraging some of the world’s best mural artists to come to DC and facilitate a creative collaboration with the community in order to revitalize the Southwest district of DC as a destination hot spot for art. In order to do this, Blind Whino, with the help of Wharf DC, will sponsor an Artist-in-Residency by providing the Blind Whino building to act as their studio. Blind Whino is a nonprofit arts club and event space located in the Southwest Corridor of Washington DC. The organization was founded on the principle that art is a catalyst for change, providing inspiration by promoting the arts city­ wide through multidimensional programming.

This is what Blind Whino will to do with Art Residency program, build upon the great arts community here in DC and invigorate the area by doing a city­wide mural art activation and expose new audiences to art. The Residency program allows for an innovative and hands­ on approach to arts outreach because it includes the public in the creative process of making the mural art. In this regard, it will enable the public to be more involved in the arts, by providing them with a visionary opportunity to be a part of the artistic process by inviting them to form a dialogue with the artists, through workshops and other programming events as the work is being created, making the resulting murals a collaborative effort.

The goal of the program is to have four residencies at Blind Whino a year, for one to two months. The artists will have full ­use of Blind Whino’s art annex as their studio where they will prepare for an art exhibit at the end of the residency as well as their mural interventions throughout DC. Furthermore, the artists will be able to utilize Blind Whino as a space to have an open dialogue with the community throughout the duration of their residency. This will be done through hosting weekly receptions, open panel discussions, and art workshops lead by the artist; creating an opportunity for the public to have direct engagement with the art and serve to build an active audience ­base for another dimension of contemporary art in DC.

There is no one more qualified to see this project through than Shane Pomajambo, one of the founders of Blind Whino and the leader of this Residency project. Shane is the founder and director of Art Whino Gallery which in the 8 years of its existence has worked with over 4,000 artists. In terms of large scale projects such as this one, he was successfully created and run The Richmond Mural Project in Richmond, Virginia for past four years. He has also organized large scale art exhibitions such as the G40 Art Summit, an annual arts exhibition that brings together some of biggest pioneers in mural and contemporary art. Through these projects he has the connections to bring world renowned muralists to come DC for the Residency, which would garner huge public interest and spur other artists to move to DC to be in the center of the action. Working with high ­profile artists will moreover inspire economic development because it will increase tourism from people coming to see the artists’ work. There is so much potential for this city to become a thriving artists community and we are eager to facilitate this by creating new opportunities for artists such as this Residency program.

The Artist-in-Residency embraces the Innovative criterion of Wharf DC because starting this program is a strategic and ambitious new idea for Blind Whino. As it stands now the space is used for private events when it is not hosting art exhibitions for Art Whino Gallery. Thus, the residency would allow the space to embrace its full potential as a community space. This will be done by starting new programming opportunities to support the Residency and provide a new and unique space to encourage public interaction with the art. This marks a huge departure from Blind Whino’s current programming as it would actively pursue a relationship between the art and the community. Although Blind Whino is very community oriented organization it has not had the opportunity to get as actively engaged as the Residency would allow. The Artist Residency would not only actively encourage the support of the local community through its programming but also provides a great chance for other sponsors and organizations to get involved. For instance, to end the residency Blind Whino will host an exhibition of the artists work at Blind Whino or at other institutions such as The Phillips Collection. Shane Pomajambo has an ongoing relationship with the Phillips Collection and a collaboration with them will further embolden other artists to want to participate in our program and support the local arts community. This would allow the art to get exposed to two new audiences: to the local community surrounding the mural and to the DC museum crowd, bridging the gap between those two communities and creating a new network of artistic collaboration to the benefit of the creative economy of DC.

The Artist Residency additionally embodies the Responsiveness criterion of Wharf DC as it provides direct art education and engagement to the target audience through the planned programming of open artist panels, events, and workshops. Blind Whino is absolutely committed to furthering the arts education of the local community and its youth. By setting up workshops with the Artist-in-Residency this will create opportunities for the artists to connect with the locals. Additionally, Blind Whino will coordinate with local schools to create educational workshops specifically for children hosted at Blind Whino inspired and led by the Artist-in-Residency. This will allow for Blind Whino to educate a new audience about the importance of artistic expression within the community. Audience engagement is a vital aspect of mural art which is why Blind Whino is focused on establishing a new niche for it in DC. Mural art presents a unique way to put art in the urban environment and give new groups exposure to art that they would not get otherwise. The permanent nature of mural art further contributes to establishing community identity while helping to bring more tourists to the area and supporting the local economy.

This leads to how the Residency addresses the Impact criterion for Wharf DC; Blind Whino, through Shane Pomajambo’s connections, has the chance to host the some of the greatest mural artists in the world through this program. As previously stated this will absolutely ensure worldwide press and interest not only to the benefit of Blind Whino but to the DC arts community as whole. This guaranteed public interest will illustrate that DC has the infrastructure to support artists and help boost the local creative economy by putting DC on the map as a cultural leader in mural art. It will also encourage a new audience of tourists by attracting those interested in new genre of art and bringing them outside of the traditional DC museum setting. This of course will boost the local economy while setting a precedent to encourage the development of the Southwest region of DC as a new artistic hot spot for mural art.

The funding from the Wharf DC will be put good use in a variety of different ways. With partial funding, the priority will go to sponsor the artists’ finances through their artist stipend and well as to the cost of their airfare, hotel and materials while the rest of the funds will go to developing quality programming for the planned events, panel discussions, and for the workshops. With the full­funding from the Wharf DC, Blind Whino can develop better and more in depth programming opportunities to supplement the Residency. This will ensure that we have the resources to support the artist workshops as well as support any press or marketing campaign. Any additional funding and sponsorship be from Blind Whino’s collaborative partners at Art Whino Gallery, who will help supplement costs through art and print sales as well as their own private funds.

To conclude, Blind Whino’s Artist Residency exemplifies everything Wharf DC is about and would be terrific opportunity for the city. There has been a reinvigoration in the arts in DC these past four years and this would push it to the next level. In fact, this new artistic renaissance was in many ways spurred by Shane’s establishment of Art Whino Gallery in 2007, since over eight new organizations started after this. Since its inception they have lead by example, creating revolution new programs such as the G40 Arts Summit and establishing the game­ changing Blind Whino nonprofit organization. Now is the time to lead by example again, to create this Artist-in-Residency program, to show how Blind Whino is able to reach out and inspire an interest in the arts, even from people who may not be art lovers. This residency presents a visionary opportunity to engage the community through mural art, bring world renowned artists to DC, and revitalize the Southwest district as a new center for the arts.