Chautauqua Art Lab (CQAL)
How is the project operated?
How long has it been in existence?
What was your motivation?
Our motto: Learn, Include, Collaborate, Constillate. CQAL and the People’s Joy Parade (now it’s own event) began in May of 2009 as an extension of Sarah Paulsen and Eric Repice’s exhibition at Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts on Cherokee Street with co-founder Emily Hemeyer. At the time there were few public forums in St, Louis for innovative makers, thinkers and doers to convene in the sharing of ideas and projects. It began as a 4-day discussion series.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project:
Varies yearly. 20+ individuals and groups.
How are programs funded?
In-kind donations of time, skills, and space. CQAL has historically operated outside of traditional monetary systems and is a labor of love. We are currently investigating modes for long-term sustainability under the umbrella of SPORE Projects.
Who is responsible for the programming?
CQAL is an ever-evolving loosely organized crew of individuals, organizations, and spaces. This year’s contributors are: Emily Hemeyer (Spore Projects/Homestay), Chloe Bethany (Pig Slop), David Wolk (Cranky Yellow), Melinda Snyder, Konstantin Priship (Homestay artist-in-res), Sarah Paulsen, Rick Weaver (Mushmaus artist-in-res), Lyndsey Scott, Dayna Kris (Rebuild Foundation), Irene Compadre (Cherokee ReAl Garden), Isolation Room/Gallery Kit, Blank Space, Mushmaus, Community Arts and Media Project (CAMP), Mrs. MacCormick’s Yard, and Paul’s Place.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year:
We’re an annual event with small residencies throughout the year.
What kind of events are usually organized?
Our opening event is a BBQ potluck and DIY ephemera exhibition “Here No More” at one of St Louis’s longest-running collective residences and art spaces, the Community Arts and Media Project (CAMP). We’ll also be launching the Migratory Hive Project, mini galleries featuring “Other Worlds” exhibition that will be relocated to 7 non-art spaces throughout the city. Friday night is the Hidden City Crawl, an installation tour of four non-traditional arts spaces including Isolation Room/Gallery Kit, Paul’s Place, Mrs MacCormick’s Yard, and Mushmaus. Saturday is the Empty Pocket University at Blank Space which will kick-off with a spring roll making workshop and a big vat of stew. On Sunday we’ll be back at CAMP for a movement, voice, yoga workshop followed by a brunch potluck at the Rebuild Foundation in Hyde Park.
How is your programming determined?
The focus of programing shifts organically every year depending on the organizers interests and participating locations. Events have ranged from a film series inside a community constructed blanket fort to a panel discussion about historic architectural blogging that included a St. Louis Alderman. Other past events have included an experimental performance festival inside a developing building arts museum in East St. Louis, a guided tour of the Pruitt-Igoe site, and an art yard hoedown.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
Yes. We are always open to ideas and new locations. We rarely publish calls. Artists, presenters and organizers should have a fondness for process driven projects, human interactions, and shared space.
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
Art as process and an openness to chance occurrences.
What’s working? What’s not working?
Pro/Con: CQAL is this beautifully entangled mess of individuals and groups that somehow manages to form a temporary constellation.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
A connector of webs and forum for collaboration.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
With the economy and the nature of transient spaces, we have seen a tremendous amount of independent spaces and projects cease to exist and friends burn out. In an effort to maintain long-term sustainability, form closer ties to our city, and to become a support for other small ventures; SPORE Projects is working towards adopting a non-profit structure that will umbrella CQAL. Other projects include the Homestay Artist Residency, SPORE Mobile Gallery, Migratory Hive Project, and the Empty Pocket Archive.
Images courtesy of Chautauqua Art Lab.
James McAnally is the executive editor and co-founder of Temporary Art Review. A graduate of Washington University, James McAnally is a founder, Co-Director, and Curator of The Luminary Center for the Arts, a nonprofit artist resourcing organization based in St. Louis. In his personal practice, he works as part of the artistic collaborative US English.