Outpost Artists Resources is not your average art space: it’s a one-of-a-kind nonprofit that passionately strives to provide inclusive and versatile programming, fostering the creativity of local artists and Ridgewood residents, ultimately bringing the two groups together. They function as part art-gallery, part venue, and part educational-cultural center, hosting countless residencies, art programs, workshops, concerts, panels and more.
And this Friday, September 22, you can join in on the fun, as Managing Director Mia Wendel-Dilallo’s first solo-curated show, “Earshot,” a sound-sculpture exhibition with which the audience is encouraged to participate, opens at Outpost at 6 p.m.
Bushwick Daily visited Outpost Artists Resources on a Saturday. The space is whimsical yet serious — the energy a hybrid of dedication, hard work, and creativity — the unfettered feeling of authenticity, strongly reflected in its staff and supporters.
Mia, Outpost’s Managing Director is covered in paint and wielding a paint roller, preparing the space for Earshot. “Sorry, there are a lot of parrots out right now,” she warns.
Mia is one of two official Outpost employees; she is joined only by Director Ruth Kahn, who founded Outpost in 1991, and devoted volunteer and advisor David Weinstein, who runs Outpost’s Video and Sound Lab.
“[Mia] writes the grants, balances the budgets. She’s janitor, everything.” Ruth says of Mia’s role. “We clean, we paint, we spackle.” Clearly, the DIY label isn’t a front — it goes for not only the organization, but the people behind it, as well. “Ruth and I do a whole lot, but the space couldn’t run without its volunteers and advisors,” Mia clarifies, smiling. “It’s a community effort, really.”
We relocate to Outpost’s Roof Garden and are greeted by Treble, Tutu, Rocky, Butters, and Twister (Ruth’s three parrots and two cats, respectively). I ask “what makes Outpost different from other galleries,” then realize: the answer is everything. “[Outpost is] not really a gallery, we host only two shows a year, on average. It’s more of an art center,” Ruth replies. And she’s not kidding: Outpost does it all.
Outpost is now on their third year of “Inside Norman Street,” “an ongoing artistic collaboration between strangers living on the same street in Ridgewood,” the same street on which Outpost resides. “The neighbors range in age from 21 to 75 and represent countries all over the world…once strangers have now become friends and artistic collaborators, through sharing and writing stories.”
Additionally, the space offers the Cuts and Burn Residency, “dedicated to assisting artists develop video art projects…by providing them with professional editors, engineers, and programmers. They hold the monthly concert series “Fire Over Heaven,” curated by guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and audio phenomenologist Che Chen, and put on Outpost’s Ridgewood Radio every Wednesday on WFMU, which features “live sets by experimental musicians, recorded at clubs and galleries running along the L-train corridor.”
Outpost also hosts the “Great B.E.” [The Great Black Expanse]: a “reoccurring showcase of performance and video work by artists from the African diaspora, organized by Samantha CC…where artists are encouraged to defy the stereotypes and expectations that the art world and the world in general place on black people and black artists.” Outpost serves as the convening space for the Ridgewood Tenants Union as well.
ON OUTPOST’S UPCOMING SHOW, “EARSHOT”
Earshot, premiering September 22, is Mia’s first solo-curated show, with which the audience is strongly encouraged to engage.
“I wanted to create an exhibition in which people could invest something of themselves in the work and forge a real bond with the pieces. All of the exhibiting works only really come alive with human interaction. By empowering visitors, including artists and non-artists alike, to really explore an artwork and discover ways to produce sound through it, I’m hoping the take away is an entirely unique and unforgettable experience for each individual.”
“There’s a video game inspired Ouija board, a synth piece, a few keyboard pieces too.” For example, Jen Kutler‘s “Link and Line,” “based off a piano’s keys and tune, but played through a vibrator and sewing machine.”
Another key element to Earshot was equal representation, an (unfortunately) rare occurrence in the art world. “I made sure the artists were 50% women, 50% men.”
ON WHAT’S NEXT FOR OUTPOST
“We’ve been incubating ideas on how to better respond and support artists and our local community and bridge those gaps— to have this be a permeable space. Panel discussions and round tables are going to be more a part of the Outpost in general to foster these conversations in a safe and welcoming environment,” Mia explains. Outpost is also launching the Vestibule Gallery display video from the residency, allowing them to put on more impromptu shows.
I left Outpost grinning: the space is friendly, inspiring, euphoria-inducing. Perhaps it’s the parrots, perhaps the lush garden. All I know for sure is that I can’t wait to go back.
Good thing there’s a show on Friday.
Earshot’s Opening Reception is September 22 from 6-9 p.m. Click here for more information and to RSVP.
Earshot will be on view September 22 – October 15, Wednesday through Sunday, 1-6 p.m. or by appointment. Email Outpost at [email protected].
A group performance of the works will take place on Saturday, October 14, 7 – 9 p.m.