Creative Profile (Arts Organization)
Co-Lab Projects, Austin, Texas
PJM: I selected Co-Lab to profile, based on my history with the Austin non-profit and its founder, Sean Gaulagher [see below]. Since 2008 Co-Lab has produced impressively diverse and compelling programming, featuring many artists and creative approaches through solo, collective and group exhibitions, performances and installations. The virtual components of Co-Labs operations never fail to enhance the immediate and visceral qualities of its presentations. As producers, the Co-Lab team, which over the years has changed and evolved in the direction of excellence, has evidenced respect for artistic processes of many descriptions, consistently provisioning support services that have made sometimes difficult work accessible and approachable for the Austin arts community. Providing a needed "anchor" art-org in East Austin during the district's emergence as a cultural destination, Co-Lab constructed a trusted brand with sound connections to other arts and culture hot spots and activities, such as Bolm Studios/Big Medium, the East and then West Austin Studio Tours, and the Texas Biennial. Working collectively, these and other successful projects (e.g., OK Mountain) added much to an art scene dominated by the University of Texas' arts programming and a few additional institutions, including the Blanton and The Contemporary Austin museums. Over its lifetime, Co-Lab has gone through the typical phases of medium-sized city independent contemporary art not-for-profits. In 2012-13 it was short listed for a Rauschenberg Foundation grant. In 2015 Co-Lab lost its original space and has since navigated a period of occupying temporary and satellite spaces. Throughout its tenure, however, Co-Lab, Gaulagher and the artists they serve have continued to provide quality art events and exhibits for Austin art lovers. To get a sense of the remarkable variety of Co-Lab's programming, review the "Past Exhibits" section on the Project's website.
[In 2005 I produced a series of exhibits, a formal lecture, and a technical residency at St. Edward's University. During the 4- or 5-month production, I rented a working spaces, one of which was located at Shady Tree Studios. Sean was one of STS' managers/facilitators. My studio rental at STS transitioned into its own residency-like thing, during which I helped STS develop an exhibit program that still exists today (Pump Project), produced my own solo exhibit, and helped coordinate the founding of Cantanker, an Austin contemporary arts zine, which enjoyed a nice multi-year run. Sean moved on from STS to establish Co-Lab, and I exhibited there in 2012. I visited Sean in his temporary project space across the street Contemporary Austin in April. On view was an interactive installation of 500 piano wires attached to floor and ceiling ("String Room" by turntablist Maria Chavez), coinciding with the 2017 FUSEBOX festival.]
Co-Lab website: http://co-labprojects.org/