Voices X September 6 – October 4, 2014

Fall Into Art – Your final chance to see Voices VII: Revolt

October 7, 2011PamelaNews

Oh, what a glorious seventh season of Voices we’ve enjoyed! From Rogue to runway, to film and theater, to bluegrass and rockabilly, to soup and craft beer… All of it experienced within the delicious environment of wonderful ART!

To conclude this remarkable month-long season of the finest Voices from the Warehouse exhibit ever, you can see the art one more time on Friday, October 7th during the Fall Into Art tour. Voices is one of several stops on the tour. Would you like to look at a Fall Into Art Brochure? Enjoy!

Homebrew Throwdown at Voices Gallery: Learn about home brewing & enjoy an exclusive tasting event!

October 2, 2011PamelaNews

Dubuque Area Society of Brewers Throwdown

Wednesday Oct. 5, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.

ReVolt: Voices from the Warehouse District VII
10th and Jackson Streets, Dubuque, Iowa, in the Historic Millwork District.

Get your tastebuds in order for a Dubuque Area Society of Brewers Throwdown! Attend this exclusive event — happening midweek on the evening of Wednesday October 5th — to sip samples and learn about the craft of home brewing. All within the gorgeous and spectacular environs of the cavernous Voices from the Warehouse Gallery.

Informally known as the SOBs, the Dubuque area Society of Brewers are a group of home brew aficionados who congregate monthly to share secrets of the finest fermentation.

The coordinator of the SOB meetings, Jerry Anderson, owns the Bluff Street Brew Haus, which offers for sale the equipment and ingredients for independent home brewing.

In conjunction with their regular monthly meetings, the SOBs hold quarterly throw-downs, where individuals compete for the best home brew in specific categories or beer styles. The judging is done collectively, with a traveling trophy awarded to the winner.

This month’s SOB meeting and throwdown at Voices Gallery will open the door to interested fine beer lovers in the community. Learn about how to make your own home brew and take advantage of this exclusive beer sampling event!

Jay Jubeck (yes, the same wild pompadour who rocked the warehouse with raucous rock-a-billy on Saturday night along with The Fast Clydes) will lead a short beer tasting class beginning at 7:00 p.m., followed by the SOBs’ quarterly throw-down at 7:30 p.m.

Throughout the evening, samples of homebrew will be available, with plenty of brewing conversation and opportunities to learn about the taste tantalizing craft of independent home brewing. As a bonus, a limited number of interested non-members will be selected to participate in throwdown judging. Join the SOBs at the Warehouse Gallery for an evening of beer tasting delight!

ReEnergize art in your life. ReEnergize art in your home. ReEnergize art in your children. ReEnergize art in your community. ReEnergize Art In America!

Rockabilly dance party with The Fast Clydes at Voices on Oct.1st!

September 26, 2011PamelaNews

Special events are planned for Saturday October 1st at Voices Gallery! Families will enjoy the free Dubuque Museum of Art Family Matinee at 1:00 p.m. when Prescott Steel Drum Band will make the Gallery resound with their unique mix of world music. The performance will be followed by an informative Walk Around for children, discussing and explaining the artwork on display.

In the evening, Voices will host a swing dance party for grownups. First, Ballroom by Jennifer will feature dance lessons, so bring your dancing shoes! Afterwards, hang out and rock with the rip-roaring retro trio, The Fast Clydes. The event starts at 7:30 p.m., with a $5 cover. Here’s a tantalizing taste of the music that’s in store!

Empowering the Community: Art Gumbo interview with Paula Neuhaus and Megan Starr

September 23, 2011PamelaNews
Wanna know what happened at Art Gumbo? Here’s the official wrap up.

“It was Megan’s birth child, and I got shanghaied,” said Paula Neuhaus about Art Gumbo Dubuque, an innovative grassroots art fundraising project that she co-founded with Megan Starr. One year ago, Art Gumbo sprang to life at Voices from the Warehouse Gallery, and on Thursday September 29th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., the event will return to Voices for its first birthday celebration.

Grassroots art fundraising

The idea took shape after Megan heard an NPR story about St. Louis’ Sloup, a meal-based fundraiser where people pay $10 to vote on local art projects. She learned that under the unofficial umbrella of the Sunday Soup Network, similar initiatives are sprinkled across the country. “Each dinner is totally autonomous and can do it separately and how they want to,” explained Megan.

The concept of community-driven grassroots fundraising was attractive to both women. “We’re non-profit warriors. That’s what we do for a living,” said Paula. Compared to the complexity and bureaucracy of non-profit grant writing and fundraising, “How freeing to have the opportunity for an alternative funding source.”

“We can do this,” Megan recalled thinking at the time. “We don’t have to be a non-profit. We can give away money at the end of the night and not ask for permission to do so.  It was refreshing. Everybody brings 5 bucks, or 10 bucks, we get our friends to make soup, and we make a night of it.” They were also motivated by their frustrations with bar-based nightlife. “It was an opportunity to create another social space in Dubuque, outside of the bars.”

Empowering the community to support art

The Art Gumbo vision is simple: “What I really want to see is people sitting down at a place setting, sitting at tables and discussing a project, eating and talking to each other and having it be a little more intimate,” said Megan. And rustic simplicity carries advantages: “Not having a board, really only having to answer to ourselves and the community.”

The broader goal of Art Gumbo Dubuque is to empower the community. “As Dubuque is moving toward this explosion of destination in the Midwest, those of us who choose to attend that dinner can make the choice what comes next,” said Paula. “As a consumer, your money is power. When you’re coming in with your money to that soup dinner, you’re getting to choose what’s going to enhance our art community next. Which comes next? Which awesome idea? We get to choose which one gets funded.”

The collaborative nature of the project transforms ordinary people into art patrons. “I don’t have $500 to walk into an art gallery and invest in a painting, but I do have $10 to say, ‘I can help this person make this painting.’ So to me it’s a cool idea of community empowerment.”

“I consider myself a non-artist,” admitted Megan, “but I’ve always been very socially invested in the community art world, so it’s an opportunity for reciprocity between patrons and artists or creatives.” For $10, dinner attendees “get to be part of this cool project,” with one vote to cast for the proposal of their choice.

Winning proposals

The September 29th dinner at Voices from the Warehouse will be the fifth meeting of this quarterly event. Thanks to the first ever Art Gumbo Dubuque, prize winner Gene Tully, director of this year’s Voices Gallery, rented the equipment to hoist his metalwork sculpture of Warehouse Grotesques to the roof of his studio.  The four raptor-like birds rise over Dubuque’s Historic Millwork District on East 9th Street, guardians against the four vices of hate, greed, violence, and addiction.

“It was great that Gene Tully won the first Gumbo since the piece is so public,” said Megan. “The 50 or so people who were there that night funded the cranes to put it up.”

“It’s a public, flagship piece,” agreed Paula. “The power of that being there in 5 years when the Millwork District is a thriving cultural district… that’ll still be there.”

At the second Art Gumbo Dubuque, the winning concept was a then-and-now photography project by Tim Olson. He proposed to revisit the same Dubuque locations that had been visited by an unknown photographer in 1912. Using the same angles, he would re-create the same images through a lens 100 years distant.

The following quarter, Tim presented a slide show of his work to date. “That’s part of that very loose responsibility,” said Paula. “The patrons are holding artists responsible. There’s no official final report, but what we ask the winners is to provide volunteer support at a subsequent event.”

In the third installment of Art Gumbo, the winning proposal was The Great Draw, a sidewalk chalk art competition held  this fall on September 17th at Dubuque’s Cable Car Square. Its mission was to seed a scholarship for a local graduating high school senior. “I really liked their project,” said Megan, “because it was in the spirit of Art Gumbo. They did the pay-it-forward thing. They took that money and grew it again.”

Explosive growth

Since the beginning of Art Gumbo Dubuque, the grassroots funding project has grown and changed. “At the original Art Gumbo, the first one we did, my goal was to get 30 people in the room, or 30 voters. Our first two Art Gumbos were in the $500 range, and then it doubled.”

“It exploded,” clarified Paula.

“It started feeling too big. It felt like the prize money was too big. And we want to keep it approachable and small enough that people feel like ‘Yeah, a couple hundred bucks to help me get my project going.’” So the two founders decided to put a cap on the winnings. At the September incarnation of the event, the creative group with the winning proposal will be awarded a maximum of $750, with any extra funds being rolled over to the runner(s) up.

The founders are steering Art Gumbo back toward its rustic roots, hoping that dinner attendees will “sit together and break bread, have soup, and discuss what’s in front of them… really explore art and choose together what the community might want. We never want it to be a popularity contest where you’re buying votes.”

Even those who don’t win funding for their proposals can benefit by competing at Art Gumbo. “If you don’t win, you still have the opportunity to get your face, your name, and your project in front of art investors in the community, and many are heavy hitters,” said Paula. She recalled one proposal from a previous Art Gumbo that did not win, but which found private funding from one of the art patrons at that night’s dinner. “That’s what we were hoping for. Get ‘em in a room, shake it up, and talk about it.”

The successful runway hair show, Emergence of Spirit, presented at Voices Gallery on September 18th, was initially conceptualized by organizer and stylist Michele Chillook for the summer Art Gumbo, but failed to receive funding. Chillook took the idea and ran with it anyway, gathering volunteer support and giving Art Gumbo credit for inspiring her live art event.

Down to the last minute

As of one week before the event, this quarter’s Art Gumbo had received five eligible applicants. “It’s typical that we will get them in the last twelve to two hours,” admitted Paula. Is it the nature of the artistic temperament to wait until the last minute? Those five applicants will compete for funding on Thursday September 29th at Voices Gallery.

At alternate incarnations of Art Gumbo Dubuque, the competition is open to proposals by organizations or groups. For example, if a musician, a sound engineer, and a designer were to come up with an idea where the musician will play music, the sound engineer will record it, and the designer will create an album cover, that’s a collaborative project. “So it could be a non-profit group, like a theatre group. Anyone who wants to collaborate. It doesn’t have to be ‘artists’ — it can be creative ideas.”

What about a collaborative painting group like Minneapolis-based Rogue Citizen, who showcased their live art at the Voices Gallery opening reception? Although it’s possible that an outside group could win funding if the application shows that the project will benefit the local community, eligibility is limited to Dubuquers. “The key is, impacting the Dubuque community.” Non-eligible applicants will not be allowed to compete.

Artist responsibility

What obligation do winners have toward Art Gumbo? “We’re asking artists to acknowledge us like they would any other granting body,” said Paula. For instance,  Dubuque artist Katie Duffy, winner of the summer Art Gumbo grant for her Voices installation proposal, is scheduled to present an informal follow-up report at this quarter’s event.

“Because we’re in the same venue that her installation is in, she has the best opportunity to offer a gallery talk,” said Paula. “I think Katie has already shown the Dubuque community that she is a valuable, self-motivated creative who’s going to continue to give energy and work back to the community.” As part of her responsibility as a winning artist, Katie must also provide volunteer help at the dinner.

As the co-founders evaluate what works and what needs improvement, the Art Gumbo application process has evolved from its beginning concepts. For this season’s Voices event, some rules have changed. For instance, proposals are limited in number so that the attendees aren’t overwhelmed by reading, and the verbal portion of the evening will receive more emphasis.

In the past, applicants were limited to a written presentation only, in order to create a level playing field. “We didn’t want a cult of personality, looking more glossy to give you a leg up,” said Megan. “So, it was simply, how can you shed light on your project with words?”

Now, in addition to the written proposal, competitors have an opportunity for a more extended verbal presentation as they compete for a mini-grant of up to $750. “It’s going to allow a verbal pitch where you can get up there, like a poetry slam, and slam your project. You can pitch it and persuade your audience through your speech, through your pitch. It’s not just paper.”

Delicious food

What’s on the menu for Art Gumbo? “It should be good, and I might make bread,” said Megan. The meal itself will be a collaborative project, with the financial burden shared between many people to make it affordable for all, as in “We need three people to buy kale, we need four people to buy potatoes….”

A delicious vegetarian soup will be created using locally-grown foods by the non-profit organization Green Dubuque which works to protect the ecosystem by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting smarter development.

A few local growers will donate their produce for the event, and other ingredients will be purchased at the Dubuque farmers’ market. Soup cookery will happen at the commercial kitchen in the Dubuque Rescue Mission, and then the soup will be transported to Voices at 10th and Jackson for a rustic meal in the Warehouse Gallery.

Happy Birthday, Art Gumbo Dubuque!

When asked about how they feel about the first anniversary of their innovative grassroots funding idea, both women were optimistic. “This will be the fifth, and it’s certainly not the final,” said Paula. “It’s important that we’re turning one, but to me, what’s most important is the work that we’ve achieved in one year.”

The upcoming event will result in the fifth Dubuque-oriented art proposal to shine under the Art Gumbo spotlight. “The response to this on a local level has tripled. It’s starting to be more visible than ever, and that’s exciting.”

And it’s all connected to the community-oriented goals of Voices which provides a unique annual venue for outstanding local artists. “To me, the marriage of Voices and Art Gumbo is innate, and it’s not just because of the power of that room or the power of that project, or our attachment to working on that project. Voices has turned the table in Dubuque for how people approach art.”

“I’m glad that we’re going to be able to keep it going,” agreed Megan. “It’s exciting to be able to return to Voices, back where we started, for our one-year anniversary.” Continuing longevity of this project depends on the help and support of other people in the community.

“I think, as with anything that’s volunteer-driven, the more people that are owning it, sharing the ownership of it, as a collective, it’s always more powerful than one or two individuals driving the bus.” To make the upcoming Art Gumbo a success, people with a desire to eat a delicious meal while supporting the arts must attend the dinner to cast their vote. Get involved!

For complete information about Art Gumbo Dubuque, including rules and the application process, visit artgumbodubuque.blogspot.com

Enjoy a soup dinner at Voices Gallery with Art Gumbo Dubuque and vote on your favorite art proposal!

September 18, 2011PamelaNews
Wanna know what happened at Art Gumbo? Here’s the official wrap up.

Happy Birthday to Art Gumbo Dubuque!

Celebrate the 1st birthday of Art Gumbo Dubuque at Voices Gallery on Thursday September 29th starting at 6:00 p.m. For $10 enjoy a bowl of delicious farmers market soup by Green Dubuque plus a chance to vote on your favorite community-oriented art proposal! The Art Gumbo project started at Voices in 2010, and now returns to the venue of its origin with a special one-year celebration that will include a musical guest and cake!

Attendees will peruse art proposals over dinner, then listen to contestants briefly pitch their project ideas. Each diner receives the opportunity to vote on what comes next in the Dubuque art scene! Since its launch in September 2010, the quarterly Art Gumbo dinner has funded 4 innovative proposals, raising a total of $3,500 for art projects that enhance the Dubuque community.

During the previous Art Gumbo dinner held over the summer in Eagle Point Park, four individuals presented proposals and then spoke about their ideas for using the funding. The cash prize was award to artist Katie Duffy to help her develop the installation currently being shown at Voices Gallery. At the upcoming Voices dinner, Katie is required to give a progress report and volunteer during this quarter’s soup dinner.

During this Voices edition of Art Gumbo Dubuque, art groups  and creative collaboratives are eligible to compete for funding. A maximum of $750 will be presented to the artist(s) with the winning concept, with the remaining cash going to the runner up. This is a great opportunity to make a difference in the lives of local artists by giving a financial boost to their artistic goals!

Be sure to attend Thursday night’s soup dinner at the Voices Gallery at 10th and Jackson Streets in Dubuque’s Historic Millwork District. Eat a scrumptious meal in good company while surrounded by lovely and thought-provoking art, in a spacious old historic building that has been transformed from its industrial origins into Dubuque’s edgiest and most successful art exhibit ever!

When:  Thursday, September 29th, 2011 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Where:  Voices Gallery, 10th and Jackson, Dubuque, IA
Cost:  $10, includes dinner and one vote

“Honestly, this is probably one of the best openings we’ve ever been to…”

September 17, 2011PamelaNews

The following article originally appeared in the September 15-28, 2011 edition of 365ink Magazine, and is reprinted here with the author’s permission.

Voices from the Warehouse District VII:
ReVolt ReEnergize Art in America

by Mike Ironside

“I really want to give you a job right now, but I’m holding off,” Voices co-director Gene Tully told me with a smile. It was completely understandable. It was less than 48 hours before the exhibit opening on Saturday, and the Voices Warehouse Gallery was a beehive of activity as team members and volunteers were hanging art, installing lighting, and making final preparations for the show.

That’s not all that unusual for the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society sponsored Voices exhibit, now in its seventh year in what is now known as the Historic Millwork District. The Wilmac warehouse at 10th and Jackson that has been home to the show is over 100 years old and always requires a great deal of work to clean, light, and generally prepare for the exhibition and reception.

Only this year, Tully, building owner Tim McNamara and the Voices team faced an extra challenge. Because of the overwhelming attendance at past events, the committee in working with City of Dubuque Fire Department officials had concerns about continuing to host the exhibit and massive opening reception in the traditional second floor warehouse gallery space. On top of that, the second floor was not compliant with ADA accessibility codes.

“After doing our art show up on the second floor for six years, it was just decided that because we had a first floor space available that could be made accessible, that it made sense to move it downstairs,” explained McNamara. “So we did and now we can roll a wheelchair or walk right into the gallery space without the use of an elevator.”

The challenge? Once the decision was made to move the entire exhibit to the raw, first-floor warehouse space, the Voices team had just 40 days before the opening to make it happen.

“Since the close of the show last October, we’ve envisioned the exhibition would be held upstairs,” said Voices co-director Geri Shafer. “When we determined that the show would be moving to this space, it was phenomenal the amount of work that we knew would have to happen to be able to prepare this space to get it ready for this opening Saturday night.”

“I was in a car driving to Tahoe (when I heard about the move) and my initial reaction was, ‘Whoa!’” said Voices marketing coordinator and events chair Ali Levasseur. Pondering the challenge she recalled thinking, “‘Okay … it’s a good thing we started organizing last November because we can pull it off.’ Because we had so much front time and planning, I knew we could do it.”

“Actually, my reaction was that this is probably going to put me into labor,” said Voices exhibition coordinator Holly Flood about moving the entire exhibit. “I was nine months pregnant at the time. And it did the next day!” Flood subsequently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Maggie. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh no. What are we … how is this going to happen?’” said Flood. Continued on “My second reaction, upon seeing the space was, ‘This is going to be even better.’ I knew right away that this was going to be a great space for the show and it really has turned out to be that.”

“I can’t emphasize enough the number of people who’ve been involved in this process who’ve made it possible to do something that seemed almost impossible when we walked through the door,” said Shafer, “but I think collectively, we walked through those front doors and without saying anything to one another, in retrospect we all thought, ‘We can do this.’ There was a silence and I think each one of us could see it happening in this space.”

“It’s an amazing amount of work in 40 days,” said Tully, who estimates he’s put in about 400 hours in that span of time. “It’s just great to see the community pull together and all these people coming down here and throwing down. It gives me chills to think about all the people who have given their time and talent to do this.” He added, “It does take a lot of beer to get this done.”

And getting it done they were. Just two days before the opening, what was a raw warehouse space less than six weeks prior, was looking an awful lot like an art gallery. “Every year in the past, I’ve looked around the Voices Gallery two days before the show and said, ‘we are not ready for an art show,” said McNamara. “This year, we are really close, two days out. This is as far along as we’ve been and to me it looks really good. Most of the art is up. Most of the lights are up. It’s just down to the final details now, so we’re in good shape.”

“I think that this space has actually, in the end, served a great purpose for us,” said Flood. “Upstairs is beautiful. It’s stunning, it’s enormous, but there’s just something about having all of the artwork in one room. I think down here it’s very cohesive. When we walked into this I know that some people were a little nervous, ‘How are we going to do this?’ But honestly, the first thing I thought of was, ‘This will work great.’ It’s such a great space and I think now that all the artwork has come together in here it’s just really brought a whole new life to the Voices show.”

Shafer echoes Flood’s sentiment. “In many ways, and I’m not taking anything away from the second floor, but on the first floor it’s about the art, because when you walk through those front doors that’s what you see immediately,” said Shafer. “Upstairs, we had the east wing and the west wing. Here, you’re just surrounded by the art and that’s what Voices is about.”

The warehouse exhibit also benefits from the new Millwork District streetscape, a major renovation and investment project by the City of Dubuque. “It’s nice. Our front door opens up right onto a brand new sidewalk and street,” McNamara notes. Now, because we’re on the first floor we’re going to set up tables and chairs outside and have live music and be able to enjoy the outdoor space as well, which you couldn’t do when we were on the second floor. It was a gravel alley out there. Now we’ve got historic paving brick and nice sidewalks.” In a sense, the Voices show has come full circle, now benefiting from Millwork District revitalization efforts first inspired by the Voices warehouse exhibit.

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