Almost 70 years after its foundation, the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture has secured a permanent home in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. The new 5,000-square-foot space provides the school with programming and event space, storage space for its archive and a reading room, along with administrative offices.
The New York outpost complements Skowhegan’s 350-acre Maine campus, which hosts its nine-week summer program for artists. Since its foundation in 1946, Skowhegan has maintained temporary New York offices in several locations. Over the last six years, it has organized programs in New York in collaboration with other nonprofits, including 92Y, Cabinet and Socrates Sculpture Park.
Overseen pro bono by Skowhegan trustee and architect Alan Wanzenberg, of New York, the overhaul to the 1907 building creates a minimalist space, utilizing primary brick, wood, glass and steel. Sliding glass and pocket doors allow for flexibility in arranging the spaces.
More than 2,500 square feet on the basement level is devoted to storage of audio tapes of lectures hosted by the school, a reading room and event space, all which will be open to the public. The archive, which dates to 1952, features more than 650 talks by visual artists who have served on the faculty. One highlight is a recording of a young Mel Bochner yelling advice to his students.
The reading room boasts a collection of artist books by alumni; the program space, which accommodates up to 70 people, will host lectures, screenings, performances and workshops. The building is already adorned with site-specific artworks by alums, including Daniel Bozhkov’s fresco Wesserunsett Boogie-Woogie (2014), visible from the street, and artist Mary Mattingly’s Mobile Food Forest (2014), a backyard garden.
Skowhegan was founded with the mission of creating a summer school run by artists, for artists. It maintains a need-blind application process and a program characterized by extended studio time, peer-to-peer exchange and mentorship. Notable alumni include Korakrit Arunanondchai, Robert Indiana, Alex Katz, Ellsworth Kelly, Liz Magic Laser, R.H. Quaytman and Laura Owens. Janine Antoni, Robert Gober, Jacob Lawrence, Ben Shahn, Amy Sillman, Carrie Mae Weems and Fred Wilson have all served as faculty members.
To inaugurate the school’s new home on Dec. 18, alums John Dombroski and Ander Mikalson will re-perform Merce Cunningham and John Cage’s Variations VIII, created on the Maine campus in 1967. skowheganBOX no. 2, a portfolio of photographic editions by four Skowhegan alumni—Lucas Blalock, Brian Bress, John Houck and Letha Wilson—will be on sale beginning on the 19th.