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Chicago Artists’ Coalition BOLT Residency and Power House Productions Artist Exchange

Chicago Artists’ Coalition’s (CAC) BOLT Residency launched a partnership and artist exchange with Power House Productions in Detroit this past March, in collaboration with ArtServe Michigan.


CAC BOLT Residency artists in Detroit, MI with Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert of Power House Productions for launch of partnership and pilot Detroit/Chicago Artist Exchange. In Scott Hocking’s studio. © Chicago Artists’ Coalition.

Installation View of BOLT Resident Homa Shojaie’s solo show “Ascent” in CAC’s BOLT Project Space. © Chicago Artists’ Coalition, Homa Shojaie.


Founded in 1974, CAC has served as a bridge between Chicago artists and the greater community and has been at the forefront of artist advocacy for over 37 years. CAC’s 7500 square foot gallery located in the West Loop, composed of nine artist studios and two large exhibition spaces, showcases new work by some of the city’s brightest artists.  CAC’s BOLT Residency is a highly competitive, juried, one-year in-house studio residency that includes group and solo exhibitions, opportunities for creative collaborations and community building, and professional support.  This year’s BOLT Residents have been described by Lori Waxman of the Chicago Tribune as “some of the most promising emerging practitioners in Chicago right now.”


View of the Power House. © Power House Productions, Design 99.


Power House Productions was founded by design collaborators Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert of Design 99, and began with their famous purchase of several abandoned properties in one Detroit neighborhood for only around $5000 following the global economic crisis and foreclosure epidemic.  With an emphasis on neighborhood stabilization and revitalization in Detroit through the arts and creative enterprises, they renovated these abandoned homes and community lots into artist live / work spaces, transforming the houses themselves into works of art.  Today, they are joined by an international network of artists, some of whom have also purchased and are renovating houses within the same neighborhood.  All are driven by a strong belief that the notion and practice of art can fuel community development.


Interior view of “Sound House” and its collaborative site-specific house painting by RETNA and Richard Colman, now home to 13XXXHZ, a sound project by Jon Brumit. © Power House Productions, RETNA, Richard Colman, Jon Brumit.


With both organizations focused on relationship and community building, CAC’s new partnership and exchange with Power House developed organically.  This past March, BOLT Resident artists traveled to Detroit and toured Power House Productions and Detroit artist-run spaces and galleries with a select group of local artists involved in socially-engaged practices. They stayed overnight in artists’ homes, shared meals and engaged in facilitated discussions arranged by Power House and Nancy Jones (former Executive Director of Learning and Interpretation, Detroit Institute of Arts).  Just recently this May, the same Detroit artists came and visited Chicago art venues, stayed in the homes of BOLT Residents, shared meals and engaged in facilitated discussion with notable individuals in Chicago’s art community arranged by CAC.  The weekend’s events included lunch and conversation with Tricia Van Eck at her  experimental art space 6018North, a tour of Dorchester Projects with Theaster Gates, a tour of the Smart Museum’s current exhibition “Feast” with Stephanie Smith, as well as meetings with Lora Lode at Mess Hall, Lauren Basing at threewalls, Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford at Southside Hub of Production (SHoP) and Allison Peters Quinn at Hyde Park Art Center.  Through these tours, artist had the opportunity to experience an intimate view of each space, and also the opportunity to share each others’ visions and ideas, as well as foster new connections and relationships.


BOLT and Detroit artists listening to Theaster Gates outside the Black Cinema House at Dorchester Projects. © Chicago Artists’ Coalition

BOLT and Detroit artists in lively discussion with Tricia Van Eck on the front steps of 6018North. © Chicago Artists’ Coalition.


CAC’s new exchange with Power House Productions will culminate with an exhibition in Detroit of BOLT artists’ work and an exhibition at CAC of the Detroit artists’ work in early 2013.  With this group of talented artists working together, I can’t wait to see what happens next! 

2011-2012 BOLT Resident Artists: Melika BassJoseph Belknap and Sarah BelknapMarty BurnsKathryn Trumbull FimreiteGwynne JohnsonJenny KendlerHoma ShojaieAmber Hawk SwansonEric Wall, and Stacia Yeapanis.

Detroit Artists:  Taurus Burns, Mitch Cope, Jessica Frelinghuysen, Scott Hocking, Chido Johnson, Nicola Kuperus, Faina Lerman, Adam Lee Miller, Gina Reichert, Clinton Snider, Vince Troia and Graem Whyte.



Jacqueline Chao is a PhD Candidate in Art History at Arizona State University.  In addition to curating exhibitions, she has published several books and articles on contemporary art and artists.

This post has also been published in The Seen, Chicago’s international art and design blog and official blog of Expo Chicago.



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