Prattsville Art Center and Residency

Prattsville Art Center and Residency

Funding Received: 2013
Prattsville, NY
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
April 17, 2014

Full Moon Ramen, Secret Restaurant Project at High Desert Test Sites

The Prattsville Arts Center hit the road this month traveling first to the inspiring ArtPlace Summit in Los Angeles where we formed fast friendships with fellow rural Arts Centers Wormfarm Institute and the Lanesboro Arts Campus. We were blown away by the achievements in Ajo Arizona where art is being combined with projects such as crafts businesses, sustainable farming, and GED equivalency, all with a focus on Native American heritage and expression. Then it was on to the California Desert to visit Andrea Zittel’s project High Desert Test Sites for their presentation of Full Moon Ramen, which involved the serving of free bowls of delicious pork and ramen cooked in a 4 x 4 foot kitchen dug into the sandy floor of a remote dry lakebed. Back in Prattsville, interns Erika, Brittany, and McKayla turned our new wheelchair accessible bathroom into a canvas for paintings of blue skies and sunflowers, and Elmer helped us to choose a new boiler to combat the never-ending winter.

Calico Indians Locker

Calico Indians painting by Catskill Artist Thomas Locker for the collaborative American Masquerade Project

Recent Wins
Inspired by USDA representative Chris Beck and our amazing colleagues, Prattsville Art Center is creating its first grant application to the USDA for a Community Food Project. Time is short, but we quickly assembled an amazing team led by AgriForaging Inc.’s Nicole Day Grey. Our partners include the regional high school, a nearby farmer’s market, and NYU Steinhardt’s Nutrition and Food Studies faculty. We hope to reduce the significant amount of hunger in Prattsville and the neighboring towns through networks with local farmers, educational programs, and free meals served from a commercial kitchen at the Art Center. We also submitted an NEA proposal with our partners The Zadock Pratt Museum, the Catskill Mountain Foundation, and the Master’s on Main Street Project for American Masquerade, a year long series of exhibitions, performances, workshops, discussions, and a roundtable exploring the role of disguise in the abolition of the European Feudal system of tenant farming in early post-Colonial America. A highlight of regional history, the Calico Indian Anti-Rent wars saw tenant farmers dressed in calico dresses and sheepskin masks establishing an early precedent for current social and economic justice movements.

1st Place Cows in winter field - Stone & Thistle Farm, by Denise Warren small

First prize winner in local farm photo contest sponsored by our new partner, AgriForaging Inc. “Highland Cows in Winter Pasture”  photographed by Stone & Thistle Farm owner Denise Warren. Stone & Thistle will be featured in a specially-designed menu, crafted by AgriForaging and served at Spillian in Fleischmanns.

This year’s long hard winter has been responsible for many losses, one of the most poignant being the closing of Beth’s Café. Beth’s, two doors down from the Art Center has been an integral support for our development, feeding breakfast to two years of hungry Artists in Residence and countless locals. The café was home to informal gatherings, celebrations, and community meetings—not the least of which was our ArtPlace site visit. It is sobering to realize how quickly we can lose the cornerstones of our fragile communities, and as we develop our placemaking strategies, we must find ways to support the local establishments that have contributed so much to the communities we value.