Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ryan Tischer Discusses Washington Gallery and Artist Collective

Lupine Fire by Ryan Tischer
The Twin Ports is blessed with a wide of photography talent, from the internationally recognized Craig Blacklock to the nationally respected commercial work of Jeff Frey. It might be our breathtaking natural splendor that initially prompts so many to pick up a camera, or the deceptive ease with which one can feel like a photographer by simply owning a camera, but the best of them have been recognized for taking this fascination with images to a new level. Ryan Tischer is one of these.

My interview with Tischer in this week's Reader focuses on how he became interested in the craft, how he selects his subject matter and what it means to be an "artist" as a photographer. Because of his role at Washington Galleries and Washington Studios, I took advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the arts community there.

EN: What is your role with regards to Washington Gallery?

Ryan Tischer: Currently, I'm the Gallery Committee Chair at Washington. I'm responsible for organizing and running meetings, working with artists to put on exhibits in the gallery, and also finding new artists interested in exhibiting.

Additionally, I'm a member of the Board of Directors at Washington Studios, which overseas all other committees and passes the annual budget. From early 2010 through the end of 2011 I was President of the Board as well.

EN: What are the benefits for artists who want to be residents at the Washington Studios?

Studio space is inviting.
RT: Living in proximity to many other creative people is a great advantage for people living at Washington Studios. It's great to be able to knock on your neighbor's door and talk about your art with them or collaborate on projects. Access to common spaces is another advantage as we have a ceramics room and kiln, performance and dance space, shop room with a spray booth, and of course, the Washington Gallery, which all members can exhibit in.

Many of the rooms have views.
Not to mention, the apartments are HUGE, most with 14-ft. ceilings, large windows, and great views of Lake Superior and the hillside. Rents are quite reasonable given the square footage running from 800 sq. ft. efficiency units for $627 to 2200+ sq ft. three bedrooms for $920. One bedrooms average 1100 sq. ft. and are $666, with two bedrooms averaging 1600 sq ft, costing $796. Those prices include all utilities, except electrical. Each unit is unique, many with wood floors, built-in cabinets, and the original chalkboards left over from before the renovation.

EN: What are the requirements for consideration?

RT: Prospective members must make federal low-income requirements, which are currently $26,220 for a single person and $29,940 for a household of two. If applicants make the income requirements, they then meet with the Selection Committee where they are asked a series of questions that pertain to living in a cooperative environment. WSAC has an artist preference for new members, but we are open to considering all different forms of art, not just the typical studio arts that immediately come to mind. Our membership is made up of painters, photographers, ceramacists, sculptors, writers, musicians, actors, film directors, dancers, and probably some other artistic forms that I am leaving out. You don't need to be a professional artist to live here, just excited to live in a cooperative environment with others and preferably of the artsy persuasion.

Tischer is talented at vividly capturing natural wonders.
EN: How many artists do you currently have there?

RT: We currently have a total of 63 members living at Washington Studios in 36 households (includes both artists and their families...it's hard to draw a line between who is an artist and who is just a family member.) At the writing of this we have three units in the process of being filled by our Selection Committee. We have a grand total of 39 units.

EdNote: Washington Gallery is located at 315 North Lake Avenue on Duluth's Central Hillside. 

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