Hand in Glove Conference

Hand in Glove is an itinerant national conference, first initiated by Threewalls in Chicago in 2011 and organized by Press Street in New Orleans in 2013. Its further iterations will be held in conjunction with The Network of Artists Spaces and Projects, a coalition of artists and artist organizers working to share resources, ideas and methods for artist-led and artist-centric spaces, projects and practices, of which Threewalls is a founding member. The next Hand in Glove will happen in 2015, date and location TBD.


Hand-in-Glove is a convergence for independent visual arts organizers working at the crossroads of creative administration and studio practice; those engaged in the pragmatic realities and imaginative possibilities of organizing exhibitions, re-granting programs, publications, residencies, public programs, pedagogical experiments, and a variety of other programming that challenges traditional formats for the production and reception of art at the grassroots level. The conference welcomes spaces and projects that are self-organized, independent, and noncommercial. It also welcomes organizations that started small but have grown big, retaining the artist-run values and priorities that were a part of their founding.

Hand-in-Glove was conceived as a way to start a national conversation on creative activity happening outside of traditional institutions and spread the word about innovative organizing models and under-the-radar opportunities that could be useful to artists and organizers. A vibrant and vital art world would be unimaginable without these spaces and projects. Despite the fact that these programs offer most — if not all — of the ground floor support for artists, they operate with very little to no funding or resources beyond sweat equity, volunteer labor, and personal resources. In short, these spaces lack the proper support system and infrastructure to fully thrive and actualize their programs on a fully resourced scale. In response to this realization, the conference was formed to bring together independent arts organizers from across the country to address the practical and philosophical issues prevalent in their work and network together.

Threewalls Hand in Glove 2011

The first conference took place October 20-23, 2011 with over 250 attendees and included the release of PHONEBOOK 3 and the Propeller Fund award ceremony. Hand in Glove also took place in conjunction with the MDW Fair, which Threewalls co-organized with Public Media Institute, Roots & Culture, and Aron Gent of document. Food was catered by Roots & Culture Community Kitchen. Additional advisory and organizing help came from Elizabeth Chodos, Bryce Dwyer, and Sarah Workneh.

This four day event featuring keynote speaker curator Nato Thompson, panels curated with guest respondents from artist-run culture around the nation, and artist-designed events, parties, food experiences and tours around the city of Chicago. Panels were held at the Geolofts, Keynote lecture at Chicago Artists Coalition gallery and Phonebook 3 release party at Threewalls.  


Thursday, October 20:
7 PM: Keynote lecture with Nato Thompson

Friday October 21:
9:30 AM – 11:30 AM Regional Art Ecosystems Panel
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM Lunch, Open time for discussions/workshops
2:30 PM – 4:30 PM Unconventional Residency Programs Panel
7:00 – 10:00 PM: Propeller Fund Award Ceremony and MDW Fair Vernissage

Saturday October 22:
9:30 AM – 11:30 AM Archiving Artist-run History Panel
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM Lunch, Open time for discussions/workshops
2:30 PM – 4:30 PM Fundraising and Organizational Strategies Panel
8: 00 PM Release Party for PHONEBOOK 3 hosted by Salon Saloon at threewalls, FREE

Sunday October 23:
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM Closing brunch and open discussion on the future of Hand in Glove

Panelist Bios here

Keynote: Nato Thompson is chief curator at Creative Time, as well as a writer and activist. Amongst his projects for Creative Time are “The Creative Time Summit: Revolutions in Public Practice” (2009), “Democracy in America: The National Campaign” (2008), “Waiting for Godot in New Orleans,” a project by Paul Chan in collaboration with The Classical Theatre of Harlem (2007), and “Mike Nelson: A Psychic Vacuum” (2007). Thompson was formerly a curator at MASS MoCA, where his exhibitions included “The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere” and “Ahistoric Occasion: Artists Making History.” His newest publication, Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the Age of Cultural Production, published by Autonomedia, is slated for release in summer 2011.

Regional Arts ecosystems: Bringing together arts leaders from across the country, this panel presents the working conditions of particular cities’ cultural scenes through the words of those who are firmly embedded in these communities. Participants will present regional reports on the state of the arts locally and discuss how to further information exchange and collaboration across contexts.

Panelists: Colin Kloecker/Shanai Matteson (Works Progress/Minneapolis), Joseph del Pesco (Independent curator/San Francisco), Kate Daughdrill (Detroit SOUP/Detroit), Juan William Chavez (Artist and cultural activist/St. Louis), moderated by Daniel Tucker (Independent artist and writer/Chicago)

Unconventional Residency Programs: Residencies serve artists from every discipline, providing devoted studio space, facilities and time to complete work. They also serve as postgraduate institutions where artists can continue working out ideas in a social setting and meet new collaborators. Today there are many unconventional residencies operating under independent organizational models and at radically different scales, offering a range of experiences from community engagement in urban settings to temporary campsites in the woods. All of them nurture especially strong connections between the artists on the residency and people who administrate it. Panelists will discuss their successes and challenges regarding how residencies today are taking on especially active roles in shaping artist’s work.

Panelists: Ryan Pierce (Signal Fire, Oregon), Nancy Zastudil (PLAND/New Mexico), Steffani Jemison, (Artist-in-residence at Project Row Houses/Houston), Stephanie Sherman (Elsewhere Artist Collaborative/Greensboro, NC), Moderated by Elizabeth Chodos (Ox-Bow Residency Program/Chicago)

Archiving artist-run histories: This panel brings together leading figures in artist-run history to share, as living archives, the experiences and challenges they have faced. The discussion will focus on how the panelists’ own projects have been archived and remembered today as well as how the current generation of artist-organizers can better access histories of artist-run projects, dialogue with different generations, and archive their current activities.

Panelists: Renny Pritikin (Director of the Nelson Gallery and Fine Arts Collection at the University of California, Davis and former Executive director of New Langton Arts/San Francisco), Martha Wilson (Franklin Furnace/New York), moderated by Lane Relyea (Northwestern University/Chicago), Mark Allen (Machine Project/Los Angeles)

Fundraising and organizing strategies: For small-budget organizations, especially those invested in unconventional organization models, the question of sustainability and growth is always a challenge. In light of the present funding climate, it is paramount that artists, independent organizers and nonprofits get together to re-imagine the possibilities for creating a healthy, mutually- supportive arts system and to design programs that promote collaboration and community spirit. This panel is a pragmatic discussion on how to raise funds, solicit support, and implement experimental programs from visionaries in the field.

Panelists: Theresa Rose (Philadelphia Public Art Office/ Philly STAKE/Philadelphia), Jeff Hnlicka (Founder of FEAST, Executive Director at Kulture Klub/Minneapolis), Courtney Fink (SoEx, San Francisco), Oliver Wise and Eleanor Hanson Wise (The Present Group/ Oakland, CA), moderated by Abigail Satinsky (threewalls/Chicago) and Bryce Dwyer (InCUBATE/Chicago)


2011 Photography by Caitlin Arnold