MASS Gallery establishes an artist-in-residency program at its new home
"Well, it started in the old space, where we wanted to invite artists to have a residency in our studios with no AC during the summer. Literally, a hot box," laughs MASS Gallery founding member Jules Buck Jones as he recalls how the gallery's budding residency program was first discussed. An idea left over from the original space, which was housed off Springdale Road in a former auto-body shop, has come to life in the new 1,500-square-foot gallery and studio that MASS currently occupies on Calles. The new gallery opened its doors earlier this year and has continued the MASS legacy of experimental art.
The Hotbox program was founded around some distinctive principles. The artists were asked to use the space in a way that was unique to their work and invite the public to witness the process and development of their pieces. Jones admits that the application process for this first year was loose, with no formal submission requirements for potential attendees. Rather, the selection of participants was shaped by the talent MASS had already begun to cultivate. The gallery felt it important to showcase artists at different stages in their careers, so it chose a student artist, a local artist, and an artist from out of town to fill out the five-week program. Jory Drew, an Austin native and now a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, opened the Hotbox program with Jones on July 19. The gallery was divided in half, with Drew showing completed installation work and Jones shifting between large-scale sculptures and a stop-motion video.
Featured artist and founding MASS Gallery member Jill Pangallo, who will be presenting work at one of Hotbox's "Close Encounters" events on Aug. 3, acknowledges that the program thus far has been both forgiving and flexible. Her proposal included podcasts with 10 different local artists and arts administrators who focus on performance work. "I have never done a podcast," chuckles Pangallo, but her interest in storytelling and aspirations to accomplish something new during her residency inspired her choice. Pangallo seeks to explore the self-perceived genius exercised by Internet users in the digital age in her other pieces, one of which includes a reading based on TripAdvisor reviews.
Hotbox emphasizes exploring the creative process. By participating in a residency, artists are removed from their routines and comfort zones to immerse themselves in a wholly creative enterprise. Though Drew, Jones, and Pangallo are all familiar with the Austin landscape, MASS hopes to expand Hotbox to bring in artists who are entirely new to the city and can offer a dynamic perspective to the art scene. On the idea of pushing the experimental envelope with upcoming artists, Jones says, "I appreciate that the work we show is jarring. That's what we want to hear. That's what we want it to be."
MASS Gallery hopes to house and host talent that is unafraid to take risks; Hotbox is a testament to that. It will be interesting to see what new forms MASS takes on in its efforts to launch developing artists into the public eye, but whatever the future lineup, it will undoubtedly be a unique cast of characters.
A Close Encounters: Hotbox Residency event will take place Saturday, Aug. 3 at MASS Gallery, 507 Calles. Hotbox artists-in-residence Jill Pangallo and Jules Buck Jones will host an open studio 4-7pm, then Pangallo will present Unfollow, her latest multimedia, social media-themed performance, at 7pm. For more information, visit www.massgallery.org.