Artists to Artists

A Decade of the Space Program

2002, 368 pages with 322 illustrations. The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, 830 N. Tejon Street, Suite 120, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, (719) 635-3220

The Space Program was the first chance I had to entertain the possibility that a life in art might be possible.
— Alison Moritsugu

Artists to Artists: A Decade of the Space Program and its accompanying exhibition at Ace Gallery in New York (May 17-June 1, 2002) mark the tenth anniversary of the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation's artist-centered, artist-led studio program. The Foundation, established in 1984 by Ms. Sharpe, provides assistance to individual visual artists of demonstrated talent, and seminars and workshops for gifted high school students. Vice-president and executive director Joyce E. Robinson gives an excellent historical overview of the Foundation in the publication's preface. Funders especially should read pages 10-12, because the Sharpe Foundation's story makes a good case for integrating artists into the leadership roles of philanthropic programs for artists. Ever since the staff convened artists to discuss their needs in the late 1980s, “asking artists what artists actually need has been the guiding principle of the Foundation,” states the Foundation's Artists Advisory Committee. The fruits of this creative interchange have led to: 1) the Visual Artists Information Hotline, an information clearinghouse for programs and services nationwide and the basis of the soon-to-launch National Information Network for Artists (NINA); 2) A Visual Artist's Guide to Estate Planning, a comprehensive handbook offered free to artists; and 3) the Space Program.

Since 1991, the Space Program has annually provided free studio space to visual artists for up to one year in TriBeCa, New York. From the 800 artists who apply each cycle, fourteen artists are selected by a rotating jury of peers and members of the Artists Advisory Committee. Key benefits of the program are time to work, a community of colleagues, and serious professional attention. These “concentric circles of engagement” constitute “an alternative model of the art world as a whole,” states the Artists Advisory Committee. “At a time when that world is often portrayed as a small cabal, the Space Program is both a very different model and a different reality.”

The main impact of the Space Program on me was that of reinforcing the belief and faith in a system that could be open and receptive to unknown but promising artworks and artists. In an environment often experienced as inaccessible and impenetrable to most artists, it was an enormous encouragement.
— Luca Buvoli

Having never attended an art school I felt my residency provided the experience of all the best aspects of one while it eschewed the worst. During the residency year I must have met close to 700 people. I painted one of my most important works. Being able to work in New York for a year was ecstatic.
— Paul Laffoley

Artists to Artists presents a chronological history of the Space Program. The sections begin with the names of the artists, the jury that selected them, and quotes from two participants about their Space experience. Each artist is given a two-page spread with two large color reproductions and a brief list of selected exhibitions and bibliographic references. The outer pages of the book's gatefold cover show views of bright and spacious artist studios, welcoming the reader to step inside. The reverse pages display a bustling portrait gallery of 161 artists in their studios.

Artists to Artists is a handsome and eloquent tribute to how proper workspace and focused support can seed and nurture the creative process. The elegant, sensitive design by Pascale Willi of xheight, inc., New York features 322 reproductions and generously offers a second gift of space to the 161 artists profiled. I am sure that arts professionals will use this publication as a valued resource for years to come.

In closing, I would like to point out that the success of the Space Program has not been without challenges. In the preface of Artists to Artists, Robinson recounts how drastic rent increases in 2001 nearly curtailed the program. But thanks to new donors, the Foundation has been able to renew its lease for at least three more years. The Sharpe Foundation has declared its commitment to continuing the program “as long as the need exists and funding allows.” Based on the impressive quality of the artwork in Artists to Artists and the grateful testimony of the artists, I hope that the Space Program will continue to inspire artists and give us arts lovers the pleasure of collecting future anniversary publications.

My fortune in having received a space at the Sharpe Foundation has made a huge difference in my career as an artist. The commission of a permanent installation, numerous exhibitions, magazine articles, grants, and local recognition have all been the benefits of my time there.
— Stephen Hendee

The opportunity was of great significance in terms of being and remaining a serious painter.
— Phyllis Bramson

Pam Wolkoff, Flintridge Foundation