This the third in a series by visiting curator Leslie Moody Castro about her observations of the island and its art scene and the Galveston Artist Residency.
Aside from the architectural wonder that is Galveston, there exists a place created solely to support artists and their professional careers.
Just a few blocks away from The Strand, the Galveston Artist Residency is home to one of the most prestigious artist residency programs in the state. Once a year, three artists move to Galveston from all over the country with the invitation of Galveston Artist Residency, with the expectation that they spend an entire year focusing solely on their practice.
It is an unprecedented amount of support in an art world that, ironically, does not always support living and working artists.
To be an artist is a profession. It is not a hobby that happens on the side once the day job is finished at 5 p.m. To be an artist is to live with an understanding that every moment of time is a critical one to question time, place and the moments that choreograph your surroundings, then transform that criticality into something beautiful.
Artists have a hard job, and oftentimes I wonder whether we fully appreciate that. Most have immense talent running through their skin, and have been trained to expertly dominate their craft. Most also have higher level degrees and are backed by decades of an education system that has taught them to question the world around them and their craft at the same time. Then they are taught to fuse these two into a singular method that reflects their personal identity and artistic voice. Logistically, they are expected to produce and be productive in a world that places very little value on their efforts.
Artists, and creatives in general, go through an education system which they leave with a mountain of overwhelming debt. They pay two rents when they can, one for their home, and the other their studio space in which they work. They are constantly threatened by higher rents, loss of space and the insurmountable anxiety of maintaining both a job to pay the bills and an artistic practice that probably won’t ever pay the bills. Artists are not actually lazy, hippie dippy or drunk all the time. Artists are hard-working thinkers who examine and produce beauty in our complicated world.
With all this complication, the need to produce remains a drive. The Galveston Artist Residency is the hidden, quiet secret where three creatives come to enjoy life on the island and be creative. The island is a haven of inspiration in its eccentricities, and its near unprecedented support allows artists to be artists and continue creating things for the world.
This year, we are lucky to welcome four new residents to the island: Katrina Moorhead from Ireland via Houston, Phil Peters from Los Angeles, Derick Whitson from New York and special project resident Arden Surdam of Los Angels. No doubt, their time, inspiration, and perhaps even process, will be affected by the uniqueness of the island, and we are excited to see their process.