Vancouver Organization for Contemporary Art
VOCA is an evolving idea that began in 2008 among a handful of artists who saw a need for affordable spaces for (primarily) noncommercial art exhibitions, small performances, readings, lectures and arts seminars. VOCA is an independent effort launched by artists K.C. Madsen and Anne John.
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VOCA is located at:
906 Harney Street
Vancouver, WA 98660
EXHIBIT A: Evidence of an art occurrence
April 4, 2014: This exhibit consisted of evidence left behind from a prior “performance.” The performance and resulting evidence were generated by Vancouver School of Arts and Academics students from various disciplines along with VSAA art teacher Crystal Zeller and family—all under the direction of artist K.C. Madsen. K.C. “conducted” the performance on Saturday March 29, 2014, with no audience present, only performers and documenters. Photo credit: Alexandra Cammack
Photos of the performance by Alexandra Cammack
Photos of the exhibit/reception by Cam Suttles
Stop-motion video clip from performance recorded by K.C. Madsen:
Raw video of performance recorded by K.C. Madsen:
January 2014: VOCA invited eight artists, all friends, all women, to come together for VOCA’s first Art Lab, a month-long creativity incubator. The idea, initiated by Anne John, is for each artist to take a risk, work outside her normal process or explore a new medium or genre. Working together in a shared space fuels creative energy and inspires us to push our work in new directions. VOCA was open to the public during designated hours so that people could stop in, talk with the artists and see works in progress. An exhibit of completed works was held First Friday, March 7. Artists included are Michelle Allen, Erin Dengerink, Cynthia Heise, Anne John, Carson Legree, K.C. Madsen, Sharon Svec, and Jennifer Williams. The opening reception also included performances by dance troupe “Off Point” (Patrick Russell, Michelle Wilson Davis, Tracy Carboneau, Erica Castro, and Scott Trumbo). The dancers have various backgrounds from Pacific Northwest Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Eugene Ballet, and Oregon Ballet Theatre.
BOYS & GIRLS CLUB FINE ART EXHIBIT
January 3, 2014: Southwest Washington’s Boys & Girls Club is unique in that it has a rigorous and dedicated art program. Past participants in their Fine Arts program have gone on to win the national 2013 competition. VOCA hosted the 2014 exhibit and the judging of works by these young artists.
SERENDIPITY PLAYERS READER'S THEATER
December 20–21, 2013: After almost two years and having an enthusiastic following, Serendipity Players lost its downtown space. VOCA stepped in to enable a readers theater with performances held in December and more planned for Februrary in conjunction with Black History Month.
VA VA VOOM HOLLYWOOD HOLIDAYS
December 15, 2013: As many small performing arts organizations have had difficulty finding venues in Vancouver, VOCA opened its doors to VA VA VOOM for its winter, holiday-themed performance.
ARTIST TRUST AT LARGE
December 11, 2013: VOCA hosted a presentation by K.C. Madsen, regional representative for Artist Trust, a Washington State organization that supports the interests of artists. She shared a wide array of resources that are available for artists to advance their careers.
MICHAEL SMITH: DRAWN
December 2013: Upon completion of Michael Smith’s month-long “Drawing as Performance Art” event, VOCA held an artist’s reception and exhibition of the finished works.
MICHAEL SMITH: DRAWING AS PERFORMANCE ART
November 2013: Artist Michael Smith was invited to use the VOCA space to create eight large portraits of Vancouver residents. VOCA allowed him to create pieces on a scale not possible in his home studio, all while sharing his process with the public.
Michael also created a stop motion video documenting his process:
OPEN STUDIOS TOUR: EXHIBIT AND RECEPTION
November 2013: 50 artists, participants in Clark County’s first annual Open Studios tour had their preview exhibition at VOCA as part of Vancouver’s November 2013 First Friday Art Walk. Vancouver’s Downtown Association in conjunction with Arts of Clark County and local sponsors arranged for a shuttle bus so that First Friday visitors could experience multiple galleries and establishments in the dowtown area. The VOCA reception attracted more than 700 visitors. WSU-Vancouver student Diana Brown created a short video about the event.
ROBERT BICKEL: TIME WAVES
August 2013: VOCA held the first large solo show by architect, painter and Ridgefield resident Robert Bickel.
10 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE DAY: POETRY READINGS
October 2013: Clark County poet laureate Christopher Luna organized a full day workshop that culminated in an open-mike poetry reading of works produced during the workshop.
EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS, CURATED BY KATHI RICK
August 2013: Kathi Rick, artist and art instructor at Washington State University, Marylhurst College, and Portland Community College, invited a dozen emerging photograpers to exhibit their digital photographic art in the new VOCA space, attracting vistiors from the broader Portland-Vancouver region.
HEARTS OF CLARK COUNTY: EXHIBIT AND RECEPTION
July 2013: In November of 2012, PeaceHealth Hospital Foundation contacted Anne John, and subsequently Arts of Clark County to work on their 2013 fundraiser dedicated to building a new heart and vascular surgery facility. Anne identified artists to apply their art to thirty fiberglass hearts to be sold at auction. VOCA identifed a space on Harney Street for artists to create works and for an artists reception and exhibit. From that point forward, the Harney Street building became home for VOCA. Read the Columbian article for more details.
VANCOUVER USA REGIONAL TOURISM OFFICE: ART WINDOW
2010–201: One of the participants in the Windows into Art exhibition was the Vancouver tourism office which included blank storefront windows with nothing more than pulled-down venetian blinds. When the staff realized the value of having art in the windows, they asked K.C. Madsen to curate rotating exhibits even after the Windows into Art event had ended.
Approximately every three months since 2010, new art works have appeared in the windows at 8th and Main in Vancouver. Artists have included Susan Harlan, Jeff Condit, Sanje Elliott, Pilar Hanson, Yuki Hitori, Bob Grove, Kicki Masthem, Alder Suttles, Anne John and Erin Dengerink. A variety of art and media types have been represented painting, printmaking, photography, ceramics, fiber arts, and glass.
Taking a blank wall and adding art to the streetscape on a block that has had little of visual interest has helped keep the area lively. This is a subtle way that people can discover art and an example of how art can be in every part of our lives and respond to shifts in the landscape. When you have a blank wall, fewer people want to walk on the sidewalk. A central part of our urban experience used to be “window shopping” and art can help restore some of that feeling.
This project showed that, even without a space for VOCA, there are things we can do to make art visible and to influence the culture of this city and community.
WINDOWS INTO ART
June 4–July 5, 2010: VOCA began without a physical space but still found creative ways of bringing art to the viewing public—art that isn’t typically seen in galleries.
Windows into Art was an exhibition of contemporary art installed in vacant windows and storefronts in downtown Vancouver, Washington, from June 4 through July 5, 2010. It was an alternative means of viewing art—in an urban setting on public sidewalks—where anyone can discover art and come to it on their own terms. Windows into Art turned the street into a museum and connected people with art.
Co-curators K.C. Madsen and Dene Grigar selected artists for diverse use of media and differing artistic sensibilities. Artists had the option to provide existing works or create site-specific installations. The result was a diverse array of artworks and experiences for sidewalk viewers.
With the generous support of downtown Vancouver building owners and property managers, Windows into Art took place in seven different buildings with a total of 18 window exhibition sites.
The idea of showing art in vacant windows wasn’t new, but what was exciting about this exhibition was the kind of art represented and the number of storefronts in the downtown urban core who were willing to participate in making this exhibition a unique and amazing event.