What It’s Like to Be an Artist in Residence
An Inside Report from Downtown San Antonio’s Creative RetreatBY Heyd Fontenot // 09.24.17
Heyd Fontenot takes a selfie in the Artpace wood shop.
View of a ski valley in British Columbia. Though this was a beautiful day in the mountains, this summer was plagued by hundreds of wildfires in the provence and accompanied by lots of smoke pollution.
Pre-Artpace, hiking in British Columbia for a Caetani Cultural Centre residency, in Vernon, British Columbia.
Erin Stafford and I in Veron, British Columbia where we’d spent the summer in-residence at Caetani Centre. Working in the studio everyday with frequent breaks to get Tim Horton's coconut donuts.
I finally arrived at Artpace after a 5K-mile roundtrip drive between Texas and Canada. This is the view from studio director Riley Robinson’s office.
Moving into the studios at Artpace, which do double-duty as exhibition space come November 9.
Gathering unconventional art materials
Finding inspiring materials at San Antonio's Habitat for Humanity
Beginning construction of platforms for my Artpace installation. I brought the apple boxes with me as part of my kit. They’re such useful objects and they’d originally been fabricated for my exhibition last fall at Conduit Gallery in Dallas.
Artist and friend Mylan Nguyen visited from Dallas and I put her to work immediately helping me mend frayed bullwhips I found in a Seattle thrift store. "Bullwhips?!?! What’s he planning?" You’ll have to see for yourself on November 9 at San Antonio’s Artpace.
Artist/designer/filmmaker Heyd Fontenot — former director and chief curator at Dallas’ CentralTrak from 2011 to 2016 — contributes insider reports from his residency at Artpace. This is the first in a regular series, an exclusive for PaperCity.
Three hundred words and 10 images, due each Thursday to PaperCity arts editor Catherine D. Anspon. I am to write about my experience as an artist-in-residence at San Antonio’s Artpace. OK, there’s 30 words, good start!
I’ve completed my first week in-residence in San Antonio, after driving back down from Canada, where I’d spent the summer with fellow artist Erin Stafford. We were in a small town in British Columbia called Vernon, in a great mansion that had been converted into housing and studios for artists and writers. (Some claimed it was haunted, but we never heard a peep.) Our host was another artists’ residency program: the Caetani Centre.
There’s a vast range of situations and degrees of support among artists’ residencies. Every one of them is different — like boyfriends.
Some of them are short term, some are long term. Some you think about often and fondly, some of them you never want to see again. Like the one residency program that unintentionally trapped the artist within because it was in a shipping container, out to sea and the ship couldn’t dock.
But Artpace is in downtown San Antonio, so I’m pretty confident I can escape at any time. It’s lovely here, and the staff and local art community are great, and I’m working in my studio everyday — so I have no escape plans. I’m in heaven.
I have a loose formula that I use to help people understand how advantageous and important artists’ residencies are. In terms of artistic output, it’s been my experience that one month in a residency equals one year in the civilian world.
The concentrated time in the studio, the dedicated space, the lack of distraction all adds up, and artists can make great strides in their work in a program like this.
So, one week down and I have to present an exhibition here at Artpace on November 9. This means I have seven weeks to crank out something … incredible. The clock is ticking. No pressure.