Draft Proposal

Art Windows Proposal

for the Duluth Art Institute


by Lee Zimmerman


This idea is similar to art Windows that they tried 15 years ago except instead of filling the empty storefront space with art and letting it sit passively, this program would try to fill the space with artists doing their work in front of the window for a set number of hours a month. Keeping the process active and inviting the public to see them work.

1) Fill the Empty Storefront space with artists.

2) One month lease for the artists

3) The artists agrees to do their art for 20 hours in front of the storefront window.

4) Over the month, ten of those should be weekend hours.

5) The artists will be paid $250 honorarium.

6) The lease for the program will be deemed a donation to a non-profit arts organization.

Art in storefronts has been done in Duluth with relatively limited impact. The problem, as I saw it, was that it was passive. The visual art was placed in the storefront window for often months without changing. To people passing by, it became like wallpaper.

I think that something like this could be done with much more impact both on the community and the artists involved, if you added a little twist. Let the artist use the vacant storefront space, pay them a small honorarium on the condition that they spend 8 hours over the month doing their art in front of the window visible from the street.

Practicing music, dance, creating a sculpture, painting, singing, blowing glass, sewing, or weaving..... Make the contracts one month at a time and change the artists all the time. This would make art an active experience for the artist and the community.

Use the windows not for an installation or exhibit. Instead, use the windows to show art being created.

It would be wonderful if we had an institute that could negotiate with the building owners, the city of Duluth, and maybe the Duluth arts commission on behalf of the artists - all the while keeping the best interests of the artists in mind.

It seems like too much to ask an individual to coordinate something like this. It might be much easier for an institute concerned with art in Duluth that had paid staff members to coordinate a program like this. If there were such an organization, they would probably create a better program if they took the stance that they speak for the artists. This might require them to speak to their artists members.

Does the Duluth Art Institute staff ever ask for volunteers from their membership to perform some of these tasks that they might deem important but cannot functionally perform themselves? Other organizations with memberships do that. It is a way of extending their reach as well as giving their membership some ownership of the activities of the organization.