News

First US Residency for LGBT Artists Launches on Fire Island

by Hrag Vartanian on July 22, 2011

Photo by Joshua David Riegel of Cherry Grove. (via fireislandartistresidency.org)

Fire Island Artist Residency (FIAR), the first artist-in-residency program exclusively for emerging LGBT contemporary artists in the United States, has announced its very first summer residency program, which is slated to take place August 12 – 26, 2011 in the Cherry Grove area of Fire Island, New York.

Fire Island has long been known as a gay male mecca. Evan Garza, co-founder and assistant director of FIAR, hopes that the program will help leave a mark on Fire Island and its history of queer art making. “We are really really thrilled about how much support we’ve received from both the contemporary art and queer communities,” he says.

A Map of Fire Island (original image via loving-long-island.com)

Fire Island isn’t traditionally associated with art making but that may very well change. ” … [The fact that it isn’t associated with art] was part of our impetus to want to create this program. We realized that there was nothing like this on Fire Island and we wanted to create it … we really wanted to bring young people to Cherry Grove, which has something very unique about it. It is a humble location and not a partying location, unlike the Pines. Once we realized that this is something we wanted to do we got really excited and wanted to make it happen,” Garza says.

The organization, which is in the process of getting it’s 501c3 status, is utilizing the Long Island LGBT Resource Network as its fiscal sponsor, which allows them to accept tax-deductible donations that are critical to its operations.

FIAR co-founder, Chris Borgia, explained to me last month that the whole residency program has been a dream of his for a long time. “We started in late fall of last year. It was a sneaky scheme of mine for the last four years — from the day I set foot in Cherry Grove originally — but I thought I’d have to wait until I became aging art star to start it, so I folded it up and stuffed it into the dream drawer,” he said.

“This past fall my friend Evan Garza was having lunch with [artist] AA Bronson’s partner, Mark [Jan Krayenhoff Van de Leur], and mentioned the idea of a residency for emerging queer artists in the [Cherry] Grove. Mark told Evan it sounded like something AA would be interested in, so I wrote AA later that day. A month later the four of us brunched it out, and with AA and Mark’s encouragement, Evan and I founded FIAR, started raising money, and talking [it up]  to everyone we knew. Now it’s really happening,” he explained.

Next month’s inaugural residency is a pilot program and the group hopes that in the future they will be able to expand their offerings to include more artists and support. This year’s residents are Travis Boyer (Brooklyn, NY), Ryan Brewer (Brooklyn, NY), Elijah Burgher (Chicago, IL), A. K. Burns & Katherine Hubbard (Brooklyn, NY), and they will be housed in a live/work space in Cherry Grove nicknamed “Hard Times.” The four-bedroom house will allow residents to mingle, work and live in an area with a long and rich queer history.

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