Since moving to the Ozarks, my genetic region of five generations, I have been trying to figure out a way to contribute to the local arts scene. This past summer I received a Call for Artists through the Springfield Regional Arts Council that a local developer, Matt O'Reilly, was looking for proposals to include public art at Farmers Park, his LEED multi-use development with apartments, retail, and a large pavilion where the Farmers Market of the Ozarks has their bi-weekly public market. I contacted Jeff Broekhoven, who coordinated the Call, and who invited me to meet him on-site to walk the property and find out more about the project. I then inquired if they would accept a proposal by an artist from outside of this region in collaboration with myself as an independent curator to meet with people in the community first before making a formal proposal. Broekhoven encouraged me to apply, so I contacted an artist who I have wanted to work with for a few years.... Matthew Mazzotta, a nationally recognized artist from MIT who recently won an American for the Arts Public Art award in recognition of his excellence for a community arts project titled Open House, completed in 2013 in York, Alabama.
Without delay, our proposal was accepted and on October 15th, 2014 Matthew Mazzotta held one of his unique community arts strategies, an outdoor living room where he posed a series of questions from participants to evoke a sense of place that will inform his proposed work to be build/sited next Spring 2015! Questions he asked included: what are some unknown histories, what is the towns identity, what are the challenges facing the community, and what is something special or something secret about the town.... participants were invited to bring something from their living room, a chair, a table, a lamp, a blanket.... and, their ideas and understanding of their surrounding culture.
The Ozarks in Southwest Missouri is a big mix of religions, ecological biodiversity, musicians, wacky entertainment in nearby Branson, charities, and hide-outs (caves)! After spending five nights at Farmers Park-in-residence, Matthew Mazzotta will spend the next couple months developing his public artwork, which will be presented to the developer Matt O'Reilly at the beginning of the year. We look forward to having Mazzotta back in the Ozarks to visit some of the Mega churches in the area as well as the very progressive international seed company near Mansfield, the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, and more farms and caves.... in the near future.