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About


Seriously, what's with the name?

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About


Seriously, what's with the name?

What is Chicken Tractor?

Chicken Tractor is an artist centric nonprofit organization located in Des Moines, Iowa. We are committed to enriching the visual arts ecosystem of our city by creating professional development opportunities for artists. Through free educational programming, art field trips, micro grants, a noncommercial gallery and, eventually, an artist residency program, we believe that we can help artists create better opportunities for their art and their careers. And that is good for everyone! 

Why is it called Chicken Tractor?

Chicken tractors are mobile chicken coops that urban farmers use to let their chickens range safely. Even the most difficult land will become verdant if the chickens are allowed to be chickens on it. Put your coop down on a terrible spot of your yard and a few months later your land will be fertile and rich.

Artists are, in many ways, just like those chickens. Over and over again, artists have gone into the cheapest, least glamorous parts of their cities out of necessity, created studios and communities and brought energy and desirability to the neighborhood. Unfortunately, when the neighborhood becomes hip, the artists are frequently priced out. Chicken Tractor would like to turn this predisposition into something positive for the artists and their city. Metaphorically, we plop down on a section of the arts ecosystem of Des Moines that is a bit sparse and make it rich.

PROGRAMMING

Our programming offers greater access to the broader context of contemporary art.  Six or so professional development workshops per year range from "How to Write an Artist Statement that Doesn't Suck," to a mock grant panel review with the Iowa Arts Council. Exhibitions work with artists from across the country to offer Central Iowa exposure to work that is happening all around us. They also offers local artists a chance to be inspired and grow their networks into neighboring markets. Roadtrips organize an easy way to spend time with new friends and artists and see the art work in nearby communities. Behind the scenes programming is connecting arts professionals throughout the Midwest to elevate the arts across our region, and to heighten awareness of the role Central Iowa can play. Some programs, like Bridge Work, do all of these things simultaneously.

So what is the long-term vision of chicken tractor?

As a young nonprofit, we are currently focused on providing opportunities for artists that take more elbow grease than capitol. We coordinate carpool trips to museum shows that are within driving distance of Des Moines, bring in speakers like the Iowa Arts Council to present about applying for grants, and run pop-up art shows for emerging and mid-career artists who aren't represented by a local gallery. We are building towards our goals of having a dedicated gallery space which can also host our educational programs and an artist residency program that will bring in 2-3 artists at a time from out-of-state and put them in studios that are embedded within a larger, local artist studio structure. This is an ambitious goal for us, but we are passionate about it. We feel that one of the most important links that is missing from the Iowa art scene, one of the things that is holding a lot of artists back, is a greater dialog with other artists and institutions outside of the state. It's a warm, welcoming place to live, but its isolation from the larger art world has a cooling effect on artists' practice and careers. We want our locals to have the opportunity to forge real relationships with artists from outside the community in the hopes that some of those relationships will not only be fruitful for the artist-in-residence but for the resident artists. 

 

 

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Bridgework


REGIONAL CONNECTIONS FOR

THE GOOD OF EVERYONE

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Bridgework


REGIONAL CONNECTIONS FOR

THE GOOD OF EVERYONE

ANNOUNCING BRIDGE WORK

A SET OF REGIONAL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT EXHIBITIONS
OCT. 12th TO NOV. 20th at THE GARAGE at SALISBURY HOUSE

See our event listing on Facebook

Chicken Tractor is proud to partner with Plum Blossom Initiative in Wisconsin and Darger HQ in Nebraska to create the first MIdwest Regional set of professional development exhibitions. A selected group of emerging artists will work with curators to create a high quality group exhibition in their home state to open in fall of 2016. A few months after that, all participating artists from each state will have a combined group show. Plum Blossom Initiative conducted Bridgework 1 in Wisconsin in 2015.

In Iowa, four artists will work with Mat Greiner of Chicken Tractor to stage an exhibit of all new work at the Garage at the Salisbury House. Our Iowa artists for 2016 are listed below.

heidi Wiren bartlett

IOWA CITY

I am an interdisciplinary performance artist from the Great Plains. I was raised by a queer single woman in small town Nebraska and that experience deeply impacted my view of the world. Shifting between minimalism and invented ritual, my research includes nature, natural processes, the body, and how we orient ourselves within hegemonic social and political landscapes. The most powerful vehicle for this work is often my body, a body that represents a peculiar mix of power and vulnerability specific to being a white woman in America. I engage in artistic self-sorting that opens me up to deconstruct and discuss issues of gender, race, class, and corporeality.

Website: www.heidiwiren.com

TATIANA KLUSAK

DES MOINES

I produce objects that don’t fit in. They exude mild uncomfortability, uselessness through contradictions, and dark goofiness. Often they provide overly simple solutions to complex problems. They try too hard. They are destructively earnest.

My recent work addresses the imperfections of the art industry, and the endearing awkwardness of trying to connect with art as a viewer. My work combines historical artifacts with futuristic contemporary items to appear amorphous in time. References  include medical equipment, Medieval torture devices, relics, sporting goods, faux traditional home décor, and vintage plastic. Some drive the structure and mechanics of my sculptures, while others are directly harvested for parts, textures, colors, and smell.

Website: tatianaklusak.com


CANDIDA PAGAN

IOWA CITY

I work as a sculptor and in (at least) two ways as a book artist: As the artist behind a literary fine press, which publishes new work be emerging authors and poets: Digraph Press, and secondly, I make artist's books that respond to an idea or place, or are a record of time. 

www.digraph-press.com is where you can see some of the things I've done and am working on currently.

My artists' book work is visible at Booklyn Artist with some background information on each piece.