The founders of Eugene Contemporary Art (ECA) want the city of Eugene to embrace challenging art. “Difficult art is what everyone remembers from history,” ECA Executive Director Courtney Stubbert told the audience at the packed Red House Oct. 19 during the “Creative Conversations: Re-imagining Eugene — What the Arts Do for Downtown” panel discussion. “The commercial arts scene has always been a limp, sad creature. Difficult art is what Eugene needs.”
ECA, an arts nonprofit, began as a lean startup in the spring of 2012 featuring a local contemporary arts calendar. It quickly evolved into a platform for contemporary arts education and community engagement, adding an artist residency component, known as Public Process, earlier this fall. Stubbert partnered with photographer and wife Kari Stubbert (ECA Communications Coordinator) and Courtney Stubbert’s mentor, painter and teacher, Wesley Hurd (ECA Director of Education), to connect arts culture on campus with arts culture in the city.
“The gap that we are really trying to fill is one of education and cultural relevancy and building that conversation between serious art majors and the general public,” Kari Stubbert says.
“We want to be part of a positive kind of energy and solution towards the lack of understanding of contemporary art,” Courtney Stubbert says.
One of the ways ECA is bridging the town-and-gown divide is through a new four-to-six week residency program. ECA’s first artist-in-residence, Alida Bevirt, became acquainted with the nonprofit through Hurd’s first arts lecture “What is Art?” at ECA’s gallery space, The Wave in the Whit. The recent UO graduate than scanned ECA’s website and saw that they were accepting applications for a residency. Bevirt applied, was accepted and six weeks after receiving the keys to the The Wave studio and gallery space, she hosted the opening reception for her show “Soft Language” Oct. 20. The show will run through Nov. 15, when Bevirt will host a panel discussion with an artist Q&A to follow.
“It seemed like a really good time to jump in and beat the crowd, while they were sort of unknown,” she says. Bevirt says it’s easy for arts students to feel lost when they graduate because they not only lose daily interaction with fellow artists but also their university studio space. “ECA is really trying to introduce something new to Eugene. Having this entire work environment tailored for you — it’s a magnificent privilege to be given the key to use this fantastic space.”
ECA is launching a Kickstarter campaign Nov. 1 to help with costs for the continuing residency program, for which they are now accepting applications. For more information, visit eugenecontemporaryart.com. To see more of Bevirt’s work, visit these-made-things.tumblr.com.