Arts Council News: Ideas from the Torpedo Art Factory
By Anne E. O’Keefe
Executive Director, Rockford Area Arts Council
As Rockford prepares for successful growth of the arts community, I do arts recon everywhere I travel. My most recent mission was the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Va., which sits on the Potomac River. This renovated former torpedo factory built after World War I now consists of 82 artists studios, six galleries, two workshops, an art school and the Alexandria Archaeology Museum.
In addition to the Archaeology Museum, the Department of Archaeology is also on premise. The City of Alexandria, archeologists, volunteers and students work with developers and citizens to study and manage archaeological resources important to the past and integral to education in the future. This partnership, in conjunction with preservation laws assures review of all construction projects so that sites are excavated before development begins. There is a public laboratory where you can interact with city archaeologists.
The 82 artists studios house more than 160 artists, including sculpture, painting, printmaking, digital art, enameling and fiber art. Six galleries focus on specific media, and the Target Gallery is used for national and international exhibitions. Currently, the Target Gallery has an open call for proposals from artists in North America. If chosen, the artist or group of artists will have a solo exhibition August-September 2011, and will receive a stipend and an exhibition catalog.
The Art Center is open every day free of charge. You can explore all three floors, chat with artists and watch them create. Events and receptions are offered year-round. The space may be rented for events for 50 people up to 850 people; great way for earned income for the center. This was a very inspirational visit, and it cements my belief that we can do something like this in Rockford. We have the talent, the buildings, even the river. Who’s in? Visit torpedofactory.org.
Anne E. O’Keefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.
From the Nov. 17-23, 2010 issue
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