Spreading the Love: Norte Maar’s New ’Hoods and Horizons

07/15/2015 7:57 AM |
photo via Jason Andrew and Julia Gleich

Norte Maar’s arts activities in recent months have included dance performances, book releases, readings and a number of group exhibitions—including a gargantuan installational feat in Manhattan, at the double-hangar-like 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery—so one could forgive its directors for taking it easy for a while. But they don’t really seem to know how to do that, so they’re not. Instead, they’re planning new iterations of annual productions with which local audiences are already familiar, as well as new programming that will spread their activities around from upstate New York to various neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and perhaps also to the Motor City. In the midst of all this, they’ve also just moved their home base of operation from Bushwick to Cypress Hills. We checked in with the non-profit’s directors Jason Andrew and Julia Gleich to see what they have in store for us in the coming weeks and months. Also, we figured we’d do them a favor and make them just a little bit busier, since ever-increasing activity truly is their trademark praxis.

photo via jason andrew and julia gleich

Norte Maar projects have been mounted all over the city so far this year, and now you’ve got several things set to take place upstate. What’s going on up there?

Norte Maar continues to be a leading force in Brooklyn, but many may not realize that the organization began on the shores of Lake Champlain in 2004 and played a major role in revitalizing the arts in the North Country. Then we brought our mission to Bushwick. Summer 2015 marks the second year of programming for Norte Maar in residence at The Jay House in Jay, NY. There we’ve discovered a creative and energetic artistic community located just outside Lake Placid. This month we’ll present the 2nd Annual Jay Invitational of Clay, which is a regional invitational but will also include a number of our Brooklyn artists like Kristen Jensen, Roxanne Jackson, Jeff Schwarz and Robert Raphael. And we’ve organized the 1st Annual Au Sable River Valley Studio Tour.

Lots of local arts enthusiasts were happy to hear that your Dance at Socrates residency program would be back again this year. You’ve tended to tweak things a bit differently from one summer to the next, though, so what’s on the agenda this time around in terms of participants and programming?

We return with three weeks of residences and free public performances that make up Norte Maar’s Dance at Socrates. Our new stage location will definitely set things up for a unique experience for our invited artists and audiences alike. Of course, it is the artistry of the invited companies that makes Dance at Socrates so unique.

Our first week features the wonderful Edisa Weeks’s Delirious Dances and the unstoppable Randy James’s 10 Hairy Legs Projects with the preview of his The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Our second week features artists new to Norte Maar, Christopher Rudd/RudduR Dance and Queens-based Project 44, the all male dance group that serves as the artistic platform for choreographer Gierre Godley. Week three marks the return of Gleich Dances and will feature new artist Meagan Woods. Joining our resident choreographers will be a slew of New York’s most exciting young dance troupes, including L&M Dance and Boomerang, with others to be announced.

photo via Jason Andrew and Julia Gleich

As if you haven’t been busy enough with Norte Maar exhibitions and other events in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and upstate, you’ve also recently moved your home base of operation from Bushwick to Cypress Hills. Will you bring programming out that way as well? Anything in particular you’d like to note about this new location and setting?

Norte Maar is founded on the nomadic relationship we have created with our artists. We go where they go. We were the first non-profit to begin programming in Bushwick and are very proud of our 10 year history there. Cypress Hills is an exciting new beginning for us! We’ll be connecting the “L” to the “JZ”!  Naturally we will be looking to form new collaborations while continuing to cherish our connections to Bushwick. (It’s only a few stops away, after all!) We particularly hope to reinstate our Authors and Artists program.

We see amazing opportunities in Cypress Hills/East New York, just as we did in the early years of Bushwick. Mondrian, Mae West and Houdini are buried there, so we’ve already got Modern Art, Movie Stars and Magic! Come up and see us sometime. Our audiences and supporters can expect that we will continue our signature programs, especially Norte Maar’s Dance at Socrates, BeatNite and CounterPointe. Another Brooklyn Combine is in the works, and we look forward to continuing our collaborative exhibitions with Outlet Fine Art; some panels are planned, and other as-yet-unimagined collaborations!

We’ve heard that some of your once Bushwick-centric initiatives will soon be expanding to other parts of Brooklyn. Tell us a bit about that.

Yes! You’re talking about Norte Maar’s BeatNite, which we started in Bushwick and has run twice a year since February 2009. We are eager to share the success of this program to help facilitate awareness and access to other emerging artistic neighborhoods. We can’t wait! Obviously we have our eye on Cypress Hills, but also Gowanus, Bed-Stuy, and Bay Ridge. And Detroit!

Any other forthcoming Norte Maar projects you’d like to mention?

Is it true that you’re planning an international ghost in the graveyard invitational, or did I just make that up? Well, we did say Mondrian and Houdini are buried in Cypress Hills, and it is the headquarters of Marvel Comics’ supernatural superhero team The Midnight Sons. Readers should definitely stay tuned!

Paul D’Agostino is @postuccio on Instagram and Twitter.