The Alex Brown Foundation in Des Moines has announced its first artist residencies, which are to begin this summer. The foundation has named painter and printmaker Vamba Bility as its inaugural resident artist, to be followed by multimedia artist Justin Sterling, sculptor David Craig, painter Emmy Thelander, charcoal and pastel artists Alina Perez and Arel Lisette Peckler, installation artist Christopher K. Ho (who was recently named director of Art Archives Asia), painter Suzanne Wright, and mixed-media artist Catherine Reinhart.
The foundation, which was established last year to honor painter, zine maker, and musician Alex Brown (1966–2019), is working in partnership with Des Moines nonprofit Mainframe Studios to offer the residencies, which are open to artists of any career stage and working in media of all kinds. Each residency is flexible in regard to length, ranging from four weeks to one year, according to the artist’s preference, and includes a monthly $1,000 stipend plus airfare to and from Des Moines. Participating artists are offered the use of Brown’s 1,400-square-foot studio in Mainframe, a converted 1970s telecom building near the city’s downtown, but are not required to produce work over the span of their residency. The program’s stated aim is to allow artists the chance to “experience… the working conditions Brown found in Des Moines—the ability to make the work you want to make, free from the daily influence of being immersed in a major metropolitan scene but without the isolation of a rural residency, in an exceptional studio environment and a relaxed and pleasant living environment.” Brown, a native of Des Moines, began his career as a painter and as a guitarist in hardcore bands Gorilla Biscuits, Side by Side, and Project X, in New York before returning to Des Moines to work there over the course of two decades. His work is held in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and that of the Des Moines Art Center, among other institutions.
“We are delighted to have been able to recruit such a talented and diverse group of artists to kick off this program,” said Christopher Brown, a cofounder of the organization. “We tailored the residency to take advantage of the unique resources available to us following Alex’s passing, with a hope of attracting the very finest talents to experience some of what Alex was able to accomplish after relocating to Iowa from New York, and enrich the artistic life of the community in the process.”