Prattsville Art Center and Residency

Prattsville Art Center and Residency

Funding Received: 2013
Prattsville, NY
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
March 10, 2014

The Art Center's redheaded interns

The snow hasn’t let up since our January post, and the Art Center has yet to install a full heating system, but that hasn’t stopped us from having our first children’s birthday party this week. Our amazing team of interns worked around the clock shoveling walkways, painting floors, hauling wood pellets, and refilling propane tanks, so that the Art Center’s classroom and café area would be warm and ready for their public debut. Prattsville received a full two feet of snow the day before the party, and intrepid mom Denise was trapped in her driveway by the storm, and had to be towed out. Our interns came to the rescue, finishing up party decorations, and by the time a rowdy group of toddlers and their parents arrived, tables set with art supplies were ready for creative activity. This was the first time we had rented the Art Center for a social gathering, and feedback on the party has been great. The success of this first social event suggests that the soon-to-be finished café and classroom will be popular hangouts for social events of all kinds, bringing art into the daily routine of this rural region far from the cultural mainstream.

Birthday party guests

Our first Birthday Party

Recent Wins
The severe storm coincided with my scheduled trip to Denver for the New Partners for Smart Growth conference, and all flights out of New York were cancelled. However, with the help of digital technology and USDA panel coordinator, Chris Beck, I was able to present my powerpoint remotely, and speak to the panel and audience by phone from New York. The smart growth panel on government and private support for rural communities through the Arts also featured the Sonoran Desert Alliance and the Lanesboro Arts Campus. It was inspiring to hear how many of our ideas in Prattsville, from community based education to craft-based employment, have become a reality for these established art communities in Arizona and Minnesota. The presence of Artists in Residence has clearly made a huge difference in these rural communities as they have in Prattsville.

Calvin the master carpenter

Calvin the Master Carpenter

We are incredibly grateful for our decision to hire local rural residents to work on the Art Center’s construction. The rough sawn wood for our beautiful new wood interiors were milled at a local sawmill, and the team of carpenters who are designing every detail of the project grew up down the block. Master carpenter and expert horseman Calvin Robinson, has taken the Art Center project to heart, and saved us from everything from frozen pipes to bad design. It is common for him to stop by at 5:00 a.m. to check on the stove or bring a piece of lumber from his own wood shop to match vintage paneling.  It is amazing to see the aesthetic sophistication and creativity in rural communities like this, where problem solving is a way of life.