Presenting visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces.

Art Prospect revisited: Ed Woodham’s “Strange Makings” workshop

By Matthew Morowitz

As was talked about in the first Art Prospect piece, Ed Woodham’s time in St. Petersburg was as much an opportunity to explore public art in the city, as it was “to do some subversive, gay expressionist sort of performance” he has referred to as “homopropaganda.”  His performance, which eventually led him to a group of sketch artists who quickly became enthralled by his larger than life get up and personality, had a large impact on Ed.   He noticed and became intrigued by “these concentric circles of modeling and observation” that were forming around him and the scene he was creating.

The inspiring and dedicated crew of artists from Pro Arte at the storefront space.  Photo courtesy of Ed Woodham.

His experience with the sketchers was the impetus behind his “Strange Makings” workshop, which he presented to students from the Pro-Arte foundation, one of the few contemporary art foundations in St. Petersburg.  Pro-Arte provided about ten students from the area for Ed’s program, all in their late-twenties to mid-thirties and working as established artists and teachers.  When he first met these students, Ed wore a black and white stripped costume that was created for him by Gretchen Vitamvas for this particular occasion, which turned out to be the best choice of garment for their meeting as “serendipitously, [at] the location of Pro-Arte, which is the Peter and Paul Fortress, the guard stations were also this black and white diagonal pattern.”

Storefront window in festival created by ProArte crew.  Photo courtesy of Ed Woodham.

During that meeting, Ed presented the idea of the concentric circles of modeling, himself serving as the model surrounded by “people who would be sketching and photographing me, and then there would be another circle of people sketching the sketchers sketching me, and so on.”

Photo courtesy of Ed Woodham.

Ed’s “Strange Makings” workshop was highly successful because the concept had developed organically from his experiences with the city itself, as well as the enthusiasm of the students from Pro-Arte.  The success of Art Prospect as a whole helped to ensure the survival of the festival itself, as 2012 was the inaugural affair and set a positive precedent; it has been announced the festival will run again in the fall of 2013.

Crowd outside storefront window.  Photo courtesy of Ed Woodham.

The second annual Art Prospect festival will take on the theme “The Artist as a gardener in the urban space,” and feature work that “will recover Liteiney Prospect and courtyards of flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables, as well as raise issues related to ensuring a more sustainable environmental development of the local environment.”  The main foreign participants curating this year’s festival are Fiona de Bell and Roel Shenmeykersom, who are part of the Dutch cultural organization Cascoland.   Cascoland itself seeks to promote “the idea of interdisciplinary “artistic interventions” in public spaces, giving impetus to the creative revitalization, promoting participation and networking through cultural exchange and cooperation.”

The amazing dedicated artists I worked with at ProArte Foundation were inspiring! Thanks to Yana Klichuk and all the crew! Photo courtesy of Ed Woodham.

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