2014 Artist-in-Residence: Rick Lowe

The Arts Research Center 2014 Artist-in-Residence: Rick Lowe
November 17-November 24, 2014rick-lowe

The Arts Research Center is delighted to host a 10-day residency with acclaimed artist, community organizer, and 2014 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Rick Lowe.

Lowe has long been a leader in community art practice and neighborhood development, especially with the success of his project, the Project Row Houses. Located in Houston’s Northern Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African-American neighborhoods, Project Row Houses was founded with 22 houses on a block-and-a-half and today occupies six blocks that are home to 40 properties, including exhibition and residency spaces for artists, office spaces, a community gallery, a park, low-income residential and commercial spaces, and houses in which young mothers can live for a year and receive support as they work to finish school and get their bearings. By committing to what has been called a “politics of staying,” Lowe has been able to develop Project Row Houses into a wide ranging social service center, a center for ideas, and an influential artist residency program. The organization has developed over the past twenty years to become a site of experimentation for new economic models in sustaining social and artistic communities, particularly within the community of socially-engaged art.

During his time on campus, Lowe will present the 2014 Regents Lecture “Social and Community Engaged Work: The Genuine and the Artificial” on Monday November 17 and participate in the symposium “Public Art/Housing Publics: Conversations on Art and Social Justice” on November 21. He will engage in class visits, studio critiques, and tours of innovative art and architectural projects with ARC’s partners throughout the Bay Area. Complete information below:


Residency Schedule Below, by date:

Visit ARC Reads for recommended readings on Rick Lowe and his work!

Monday, November 17

9:00am – 3:00pm
The Creative Time Summit Re-Broadcast
Co-hosted with CCA Graduate Fine Arts Department
a project by Professor Stephanie Syjuco’s ART163 Social Practice class
Wurster Hall, Room 178, UC Berkeley
Open to the public, RSVP requested
Click here to RSVP 
The Creative Time Summit is an annual conference that brings together cultural producers–including artists, critics, writers, and curators–to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. For the past two years, ARC’s streaming of the Summit has provided a collective viewing experience for Bay Area artists, curators, scholars, and activists who are concerned with arts and social change. This years, as in the past, the Arts Research Center and the California College of the Arts have partnered with Creative Time to host a live-streaming of the Summit. The 2014 presentation will focus on expanded public practice, investigating uses and potentialities of art in the public sphere, with a focus on practices with social and political implications.

On Monday, November 17, the Arts Research Center will stream the Summit on the UC Berkeley campus at ART SCHOOL X, in addition to commencing our 2014 ARC Artist in Residence Program with Rick Lowe. Lowe will engage with students, faculty, and the public, from 9:00am-12:00pm, as we re-broadcast the second day of Summit taking place in Stockholm. The remainder of the day, 12:00pm-3:00pm, will be open to the public to watch the Summit, converse among fellow participants, and have a coffee on ARC!

Please note the CCA Stream of Day One of the Summit will take place on Friday, November 14 (from 9am-5pm) at the CCA San Francisco Campus. Location and details on the following webpage.


2014 Regents Lecture with Rick Lowe
Social and Community Engaged Work: The Genuine and the Artificial
as part of the Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium
Co-presented with the Regents Lecturer Program
The David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley
Open to the public, RSVP requested
Click here to RSVP 
Rick Lowe is an artist and community organizer and founder of Project Rowhouses, a community-based arts and culture organization in one of Houston’s oldest African-American neighborhoods. In September, 2014, Lowe received a MacArthur Foundation “genius award” for his visionary work in purchasing and restoring twenty-two shotgun houses to create an arts venue and community support center. For his Regents Lecture, “Social and Community Engaged Work: The Genuine and the Artificial” Lowe will speak on socially engaged art and activism.


Tuesday, November 18

Studio Visits with Art Practice MFA Graduate Students
Off-Campus Richmond MFA Art Studios
Closed meetings
Rick Lowe will meet with several UC Berkeley Art Practice MFA graduate students to engage with their work and talk through community engagement, a theme that is central to Lowe’s practice.

Possibilities for Art on the Greenway: Tour of the Richmond Greenway project
Various locations, Richmond CA
Limited space/RSVP required
Click here to RSVP
Visit and tour of the Richmond Greenway project, a revitalization project funded by State Prop 84 grant, a Google grant, and a Land Trust grant, with stops along the way at Elm Playlot and Scientific Art Studio. Join Rick Lowe, the Arts Research Center, Pogo Park, Richmond’s Arts & Culture Manager, and members of city’s Arts and Culture Commission, as we learn about the former railway line being transformed into a walking/biking trail with community gardens, extensive murals, recreation areas, and an outdoor education kiosk.

1pm-2pm Elm Playlot and Scientific Art Studio
The tour will start at Elm Playlot, a .5 acre “pocket park” in the middle of the Iron Triangle. Pogo Park secured a $2 million State Park grant to rebuild this park with the community planning, designing, building, and now managing the public space. A driving force behind the rebirth of this park is public art, as almost everything there–the fence, play equipment, seating, etc.–was all built and handcrafted by the community. And it’s all art!

Eight short blocks away, the group will walk to Scientific Art Studio, a famous fabrication shop also located in the Iron Triangle. The owners, Ron Holthuysen and Maren Van Duyn, are deeply involved in this historic neighborhood and use their Scientific Art Studio as a place to train the local community on how to design and build. Their work helped to complete Elm Playlot, with community residents, by hand.

2:30pm-5pm Bike ride tour and Brainstorming session
The group will continue on to 9th Street and the Greenway where we will bike ride to the western side of the Greenway, stopping along the way to discuss certain key places along the project’s route. Returning to Pogo Park’s “adopt a spot” on Harbour Way and the Greenway, we will break out into groups and engage in a discussion/brainstorming session about art possibilities for the Greenway and what the group saw and experienced. Refreshments will be provided.


Wednesday, November 19

Meeting with Stephanie Syjuco’s Social Practice class
Wurster Hall, Room 178, UC Berkeley
Closed class discussion
Rick Lowe will meet-up with Stephanie Syjuco’s Social Practice at ART SCHOOL X to explore the ideas touched upon during the Creative Time Summit Re-Broadcast on Monday. Closed class discussion.

Tour of the San Pablo Corridor
Location to be determined
Closed event
Walter J. Hood, UC Berkeley Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning and Urban Design, will tour Rick Lowe and a small group along the San Pablo Corridor (between Interstate 580 and and MacArthur Blvd.) in Oakland, CA . The East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), a local non-profit focused on building healthy and vibrant communities through economic development has been actively engaged in the San Pablo corridor area, most recently through the renovation of the San Pablo Hotel which anchors the corner of San Pablo Avenue and 20th Street. Hood and the group, will look to Lowe to engage with the participants in a lively discussion to envision potential improvements as a catayst for neighborhood and economic development on the Avenue.


Thursday, November 20

Public lecture and discussion forum with Rick Lowe
Room 112 Wurster Hall
College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley
Open to the public, RSVP requested 
Click here to RSVP
On Thursday morning, Rick will provide an introduction to Project Row Houses, and then participate in an extended question and answer session moderated by C. Greig Crysler, Arcus Chair Of Gender, Sexuality & The Built Environment & Associate Professor of Architecture, and Anna Goodman, Ph.D Candidate in the History and Theory of Architecture.

Meeting with Bay Area funders
Office of the San Francisco Foundation
Closed event
Given the recent emphasis on community engagement, foundation and city arts funders will be in dialogue with Rick Lowe to learn from his 20 year practice, and to have a focused discussion about important issues related to funders’ interpretations of community engagement through the arts.

First Look Benefit Event 
Headlands Center for the Arts
Public welcome with paid ticket
Click here to purchase
Rick Lowe will be a featured guest at the Headlands Center for the Arts First Look Benefit Event.


Friday, November 21

Criminal Justice and the Community Class Discussion
Dwinelle Annex, Room 201, UC Berkeley
Class discussion, limited space/RSVP required
Click here to RSVP

Rick Lowe to meet with Associate Professor Nikki Jones’s Criminal Justice and the Community class to talk about making change at the community level, a theme that runs through the course with a focus on the expansion of the criminal justice system since the mid-20th century and the entrenchment of the system in distressed urban neighborhoods in the post-Civil Rights era. Closed class discussion.

Public Art/Housing Publics: Conversations on Art and Social Justice
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Open to the public, RSVP requested
Click here to RSVP 
The Public Art/Housing Publics: Conversations on Art and Social Justice symposium will explore innovative collaborations across cultural and social justice sectors. How can we sustain affordable housing and healthy neighborhoods in our communities? How can we sustain a thriving artistic life for our citizens? Most importantly, how can we answer both of these questions together? Timed to coincide with the residency of UC-Berkeley Regents Lecturer, Rick Lowe of Project Row Houses, participants will include artists, scholars, civic organizers, and affordable housing developers from around the Bay Area.

1pm: Introduction with Shannon Jackson, ARC Director

1:15-3:15pm: Taking Ownership: Grass-Roots Place-Based Art, Housing,and Community Development
Featuring: Elena Serrano, Executive Director, Eastside Arts Alliance; and Eastside Cultural Center partners; Aubra Levine, Senior Project Manager, Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA); Paul Okamoto, Okamoto Saijo Architects; and Andrea Papanastassiou, Deputy Director of Consulting, Northern California Community Loan Fund. Rick Lowe will act as respondent. 
What does it take for a neighborhood-based arts organization to secure its future? Does owning your own building help? What kind of partnerships and cross-sector communication does non-profit real estate development require? What is the connection between housing and art? What does place-based creativity mean, and how does ownership in the broadest sense relate to authenticity? The partners who created the Eastside Cultural Center will discuss the development of the original center, which includes space for community arts creation and 16 units of affordable housing, and their current plans to build more units as well as expand arts programming.

3:30-5:30pm: Artists Working Across Sectors: New Knowledges and Scales of Practice
Featuring: Walter J. Hood, UC Berkeley Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning and Urban Design,  Jordan Simmons, Artistic Director, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts; and Raquel Gutierrez, YBCA In Community Program Manager, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, among others. Rick Lowe will act as respondent.
This session explores the new knowledges, techniques, and vocabularies that social justice artists have acquired to depend and to extend their practice. Panelists discuss the obstacles and opportunities for imagining their work at different scales; considering issues of immigration, gentrification, urban planning, cultural policy, land rights, and environmentalism, they discuss their personal and collective strategies for working across sectors.

5:30pm-6:00pm: Closing Remarks

Note: Symposium participants are welcome to attend the Museum’s L@TE event, though a paid admission is required.

Public Art/Housing Publics: Conversations on Art and Social Justice is co-sponsored by The Arts Research Center, the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and UC-Berkeley Regents Lecture series. Special thanks to Amanda Eicher and OPENrestaurant.


Saturday, November 22

Artist-Led Field Trip
Sites in SF/Bay Area + Marin
Postponed till Spring. Please email lauren.pearson@berkeley.edu for further information. 

In honor of Rick Lowe’s ARC residency, artist Binta Ayofemi will guide a small group of guests through Land/Trust, a field trip to a constellation of sites in and around San Francisco exploring the land trust and food shed as a utopian form. Ayofemi’s practice engages open source systems, including pattern language, plants, and pop music. Her art work/research project Land/Trust investigates new prototypes for urban farming, land trusts, permaculture, plants as economy, and biodynamic ground.

For Land/Trust: We’ll begin with a walkthrough of the SF Ferry Building as an urban | farm interface, stop at Golden Gate Park for an exploration of permeable architecture, and continue through the Headlands to Point Reyes National Seashore, visiting farms and stations as examples of land innovation, abundant economies, and practical application. The tour will end in Berkeley.

Transportation from the San Francisco Ferry Building to Point Reyes and back to Berkeley will be provided, as will lunch and refreshments. 


Monday, November 24

Tour of Future Cultural Plazas on International Boulevard, Oakland
“Oakland is Proud/Power to the People/Development without Displacement”
Various locations
Please email lauren.pearson@berkeley.edu to join this tour

Elena Serrano, Program Director of Eastside Arts Center, will host a small group accompanying Rick Lowe as we tour five sites on International Boulevard in Oakland. Afterwards, we will gather at Eastside Cultural Center to explore the efforts of Eastside and other Oakland community organizations to shape development to benefit existing residents.

Oakland is currently planning a new Bus Rapid Transit route along International Boulevard. Using grants from ArtPlace America and the National Endowment for the Arts, EastSide Arts Alliance (ESAA) will be working to create and activate 5 cultural plazas on currently blighted properties along a 7-mile stretch of the route. Each of these plazas will be planned and implemented with a different set of neighborhood partners and each of which will be inaugurated with a unique, artist-led event before ESAA turns over the programming of the plaza fully to the neighborhood partners. The plazas will then be used for ongoing cultural events, marketplaces, video screenings, and other community gatherings. The major theme driving the work is “Development Without Displacement.”

Tour stops along International Boulevard will include: 23rd Ave. and the Eastside Cultural Center; the High Street parking lot of Casa Jimenez Restaurant where new murals and eating/sitting spaces are being planned; the 57th Ave. abandoned historic Safeway corporate headquarters with partners East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) and Oakland Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative (OSNI); the 81st-87th Ave. vacant lot nicknamed “the Living Room” with Allen Temple; and a 94th Ave. vacant lot which is being envisioned as a microbusiness incubator. The tour will end at Eastside Cultural Center.

EastSide Arts Alliance (ESAA) is a collective of artists and community organizers of color who live and work in the San Antonio district of East Oakland, California. Founded in 1999, their mission is to unite art with activism to work for community empowerment and cultural development, and to build bridges between the disenfranchised, racially and ethnically divided communities that reside in our immediate neighborhood and in the broader East Bay.


For more information on these events, or if you have any questions, please email ucb_arts@berkeley.edu.

This residency is co-sponsored by UC-Berkeley Regents Lecture Program, the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, The College of Environmental Design, Art Practice, and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.