The Cornerstone Group

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What does an Artist Organizer do, anyway?

Leslie Alvarado of Richfield dances during the Kalpulli Ketzal Coatlicue Aztec ceremonial dance performance April 27 at Oxboro Library in Bloomington.

An Artist Organizer listens.

An Artist Organizer contributes.

An Artist Organizers creates connections, supports artists to thrive, and advocates for people who are thriving to support artists.

An Artist Organizer brings people together who might not otherwise come together to create something new.

An Artist Organizer invites participation.

An Artist Organizer experiments to see what works. When things don’t work it means that the Artist Organizer learned more about what might work better next time.

An Artist Organizer is amazed at people’s skills, talents, and approach. Her amazement sometimes helps other people see their own gifts in new ways.

An Artist Organizer, at times, has no idea what she is doing. Luckily she feels comfortable not knowing because there are vast unknowns that exist in any and every creative process. You can’t force knowing, but you can keep learning. At the end of the day, the Artist Organizer knows that learning is of utmost value and sharing that learning using the arts is her primary passion.

What this Artist Organizer is up to at Lyndale Gardens

In order to support Richfield artists I have held:

  • One-on-one meetings with Richfield artists to hear their stories, see their work, and hear about what offerings they want to give and receive.
  • Strategic planning sessions for a group of Richfield artists called Crosstown Creativity.
  • A series of open-to-anyone dinner conversations about arts-related topics called Enriching the Field.
  • Many conversations with Cornerstone Group to ensure that the physical space of Lyndale Gardens has appropriate places for artists to gather, display/sell their work, and create community amongst themselves.

Collaborations with established artists to work with Richfield residents:

Artist Emily Johnson was featured in the New York Times for her work “Niicugni (Listen)”

  • Emily Johnson of Catalyst Dance: Working with her to help her host a series of community engagement events in Richfield for her latest work, Shore. This performance is born out of residencies throughout the state of Minnesota and is made of equal parts feasting, volunteering, story telling, and dance. She will premiere Shore at the opening of the renovated Northrop Auditorium next summer.
  • Danny Saathoff: Sculptor and Instructor, Danny grew up across Richfield Lake from Lyndale Gardens. He will be creating one or several sculptural pieces in Lyndale Gardens.

    Danny was commissioned by St Francis Hospital to design and build this piece.

  • Allison Luedtke: Sculptor artist Alli salvaged pieces of Lyndale Garden’s ventilation system and is using it to create a sculpture that will be on the grounds at Lyndale Gardens.
  • Bob Slotterback: Using his skills as a woodworker, we are working closely with Bob to ensure his skills as an artist and teacher will be used in Lyndale Gardens.
  • Camille Gage: Visual Artist, Event Planner, and Yoga Instructor Camille is coordinating this year’s Festival of Lights as her first official partnership with The Cornerstone Group.
  • Others: We are excited to find ways to work with Illusion Theatre, the Aztec Dance Community, and Storyeller Phouc Tran as we build both community and the grounds of Lyndale Gardens.
  • Creating a Request for Proposals for artists to use community engagement strategies to design or build the amenities on the Lyndale Garden site. The artists will be selected not just based on their experience or quality of art, but also their commitment and interest in using art to build and strengthen communities.
  • Envisioning an Artist-in-Residence Program that supports local and national artists to live at Lyndale Gardens and create work with, by, and for Richfield.

Allison Luedtke’s work honors the circle of seasons.

Making connections between creativity and health:

  • Meeting regularly with Community Health Specialists, the Coordinator of the Farmer’s Markets, and our own head farmer to find overlap with their work and the work of artists.
  • Ensure the art that is made for the site integrates and acknowledges the natural world and the food grown on the site. The art will also be interactive, helping people touch, feel, and explore the pieces in order to encourage activity and curiosity. We want creativity to inspire action and connection both between people and between people and the environment they are surrounded by.
  • Creating a year-round calendar of events where art and health are seamlessly woven together. This might look like Asparagus Festivals in the spring where people harvest, prepare, and eat the fresh vegetables while painters paint portraits of asparagus, poets write odes to spring, and young people make asparagus crowns.

 

Camille Gage’s piece “Untitled (Robe for Judith)”.

Sustainability:

  • Find partners that are either individuals, community groups, non-profit organizations, businesses, or the City itself that can ensure that Lyndale Gardens is bustling with activity year round. This means looking for people whose values and mission are aligned with the vision of Lyndale Gardens. By securing partners whose needs match with our resources, we can ensure that Lyndale Gardens continues to grow and evolve and meet the needs of Richfield and its residents well into the future.
  • Empower and interest artists of multiple ages, abilities, socio-economic classes, cultures, genders, and races to ensure that Lyndale Gardens welcomes people across difference and helps them gather, grow, and get to know each other.

 

Needless to say, as an Artist Organizer, I am busy. But I remain open and flexible in order to continue to be of service to Richfield, artists, and the Cornerstone Group. There is so much more to do! Please let me know if you have ideas about what lines I can add to the list above to fit your ideas about what an Artist Organizer’s job duties could include. I can be reached at mvanavery@tcgmn.com.

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