Tuesday, January 18, 2011

3S Artspace: We Need This Why?

It's inescapable.  It's ubiquitous.  It's ridiculous!  Everybody we know is telling to us vote, and not just vote once, but 3 (three!) times!  Each day!  Whatevs!  I mean...
...It's on TV:

...It's in the newspapers:  http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20110104-NEWS-101040393
...It's on the Web:  http://www.3sarts.org/
...It's on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/3sartspace
...It's on Twitter:  @3SARTSPACE

If you're like me, you're getting harassed to vote on a daily basis.   

So I ask you: What, exactly, is the big deal?  What advantage or unique opportunity does this artspace create?  It's not like Portsmouth isn't already the arts and culture capital of the state.  We've got at least 3 live theaters, we've got art galleries, we've got more restaurants per square mile than anyplace in New England, we've got original local music in nearly every nightspot, we've got Strawbery Banke and history up the wazoo, we've got the Button Factory for artist space, the Music Hall to host larger events... and all this is just off the top of my head.  So why all the hoopla about this 3S Artspace project?  

I asked my old friend Evan Karatzas just that exact question via e-mail.  Evan is on the board of directors for 3S Artspace.  He was our creative director at Flywire back in the day, and now his Proximity Lab just took home some hardware from the MITX Awards as I blogged a couple weeks ago.  Here's what Evan had to say:
"The idea of an integrated creative space like this is so strong and so overdue for a city like Portsmouth with a reputation for valuing arts and culture. You know how important music is to me, so naturally the prospect of an intimate venue like this with a connected farm-to-table restaurant was compelling. But what really drew me in was idea that this gallery space would coexist with these other multi-sensory spaces. More specifically, I'm interested in the potential it provides to represent activity throughout 3S as a dynamic installation experience."
Interesting, I'll grant you.  (Ha! Pun intended!)  Next I asked Christopher Greiner (who, somehow, I don't know personally), who with John Gayle co-founded the project, the same question. 
"You're correct, Portsmouth is the "cultural capital" of the state -- with more cultural options (such as the ones you listed) for the consumer than any other city -- but ask any local musician, artist, actor, or culture-seeker, for that matter, and I'm certain that the vast majority of them would tell you that we have a long way to go before the market is saturated with cultural venues. [...]
I have a fairly long history of firsthand experience on both sides of the artistic fence - administrative and creative [Chris's experience includes The Music Hall, Art-Speak, City Cultural Commission, RPM Challenge, etc. --DSC] and I've spent a lot of time listening to both artists and consumers of art.  It's out of these conversations and my own observations over the last decade that the concept for 3S was born. From the business side, 3S takes direct aim at the gaps that exist here: we are creating a midsize (300 capacity) venue that sits between the capacities of the small theaters, bars, and The Music Hall; we are creating a large, non-commercial gallery space, which will not be driven by sales, where installation, site-specific, cutting edge and not-necessarily-salable work can be shown; and we are creating a restaurant (farm-to-table) that aims to be as creative as it is affordable."
To me, it seems to me that 3S could, as a multi-displinary artistic outlet, complement rather than compete with great artistic outlets Portsmouth already has, and even better, bring several of them together in one place and time.  It could leverage our reputation as a cultural center and take it to the proverbial "next level," if you will.  By offering food and drink, it offers a venue alternative for events that can suffer from the lack of both, especially those held near dinnertime.  The project would also make use of an empty (eye-sore) building and make a destination point out of the upper end of Islington Street, which itself is due for streetscape treatment that could revitalize the area and expand the "downtown." 

The potential uses for the space are wide open and Chris said he's "all ears" to suggestions.  Plus, it would be great PR for the city in general if we could pull this off. 

So, yes, given all the foregoing, I'm caving into the daily peer pressure and voting every day!  After all, it's just a few clicks, and the upside is $50,000 infusion from a high-fructose corn syrup purveyor to the local community.  If you agree, I encourage you to vote, as they say, early and often:

As of this writing, 3S is ranked #28 in its category, exactly half-way through the voting period.  Let's see if we can't push it to the top 10 before the end of the month!

1 comment:

bayviewsax-lostsoul.blogspot.com said...

What Chris and Evan are too tactful to add is, the cultural control of Portsmouth lies mostly in the hands of an "old guard" who have caused a certain stagnation in the realm of creative outlets. There are alternatives (Buoy in Kittery, fo...r example) that buck the trends. Many of the options you list have actually moved AWAY from the local arts scene opting for more lucrative endeavors. With the people involved in 3S, specifically Chris, I don't see that sort of thing happening.

Also, the most overlooked element of this project is the rehabilitation of that great old building that currently sits as an eyesore. I only wish they'd gone for a bigger grant.