Arts in Depth: Ryan Hendon and Adam Thorman of LOOP Arts Print Residency

by admin on December 11, 2014

Last month, Oakland Art Enthusiast met up with Ryan Hendon and Adam Thorman, co-founders of LOOP Arts. LOOP Arts is a unique residency in West Oakland that provides up to a month of free access to a large format inkjet printer to make prints for a forthcoming exhibition. Before they begin to pour through applications for the next residency, due January 1 2015, we asked them about the project, how it came to be, and where they’d like to see it develop and grow. LOOP Arts was born from a simple but vital need for artists. Both Hendon and Thorman, artists in their own right, once enjoyed jobs that also provided access to equipment and services essential to their art practice at heavily discounted rates, or even free. After leaving these jobs, they became aware of how great the need was, and began discussing the possibility of purchasing a large format printer together. “This idea was short lived because we simply couldn’t afford to do so,” says Hendon. Mercedes Dorame in LOOP Arts Studio

Resident Artist Mercedes Dorame working in the space editing for her upcoming exhibition at Longwood Gallery, Bronx, NY. Photo Courtesy of LOOP Arts

Not only could they not afford these essential tools and services, they knew neither could many artists, even those offered to exhibit their work. “Artists can end up putting thousands of dollars into printing and framing,” says Thorman. “… If the work doesn’t sell, you’re stuck with the bill, and even if it does sell, that’s a lot of money up front.” While there were many opportunities for artists to be supported with creative stimulation and development, few provide basic fabrication services.  “Most art services function on an assumption that artists need support in the creative process, but once they have a show, they don’t need much support anymore and what support they do need, the gallery will provide,” Thorman says, later adding, “… [G]alleries are struggling now and even many high-end galleries won’t pay production costs.” “We saw this as a gap in services, so we sought to provide artists a way to finish their work for exhibition without going into debt to do it,” Hendon explained. While visiting Southern Exposure, Thorman became aware of the Alternative Exposure Grant and together they applied for funding to begin the LOOP Arts Print Residency. “It was kind of funny that we went from the selfish search for a printer for ourselves to this altruistic endeavor into which we’ve poured countless hours and dollars, but it made sense.” Hendon says. “We really relied on the Alternative Exposure Grant to validate us. We had this idea we believed in, but the grant told us other people believed in the idea, too…” Hendon adds. “We may never have had the courage to start it from scratch without Southern Exposure.” Ap_art_ment_Cathy Fairbanks Laura Boles Faw_Scrawl (2)

Opening for Ap-art-ment (Cathy Fairbanks & Laura Boles Faw) at Scrawl Drawing Center in San Francisco. Photo Courtesy of LOOP Arts

With funds granted to this new endeavor, the two artists purchased the 44″ Canon IPF8300 printer through ImageTech in Emeryville. “We’ve worked with them for a number of years and they are great distributors for inks, paper and equipment to make digitally outputted work,” Hendon says. Each LOOP Arts residency recipient receives free, 24-hour access to the facilities to make quality prints for a scheduled exhibition. Paper will be supplied by the artist, but use of the facilities and equipment is free. Hendon and Thorman are additional resources. We collectively have over twenty years of experience working in professional photo labs as custom printers in addition to being educators and artists ourselves,” Thorman says. “We extend this knowledge to the resident artists who may not necessarily have a photographic background but know what they are trying to achieve using the equipment we offer. As educators we enjoy teaching and helping people, and it’s nice for us to be able to engage with other talented artists in this collaborative way.” Last year, LOOP Arts offered opportunities for 13 local artists to use its facilities. Perhaps without intention, the residency also began to change the way both co-founders have approached their individual art practice, and view the local art scene. The value of the residency was not just for the artists, but for them, too.Generally speaking, the creative process is a very personal and individual experience. However, when you begin to think about your resources it quickly becomes apparent how much your individual practice actually relies on others,” says Hendon. “… Creating LOOP Arts … really put in to perspective how important and invaluable being a part of a community both as a practicing artist and as a viable resource for colleagues.” Thorman agrees, and stresses the meaning it added to his own practice: “There’s an amazing group of people in the Bay Area who have been starting arts organizations to help out their community and it’s great to be a part of that,” he says. “Too often, the life of an artist is a solitary one, so this has been a great way to connect with like-minded local artists.” Jasmin Lim_Mobius Clouds

“Mobius Clouds”  by Round 4 LOOP Arts Resident Artist, Jasmin Lim. Photo Courtesy of Jasmin Lim

They have big plans for the future, and how it should develop in response to need. “Right now we only have printing available but down the road adding scanning capabilities and maybe a wet darkroom to offer multiple processes would broaden who could take advantage of our residency,” Hendon says. They are also proud of the art collection they have amassed from past residents. “From each resident artist we ask that they leave us with two prints from their time in residence,” Hendon explains. “One print will eventually go towards our fundraising efforts, albeit an auction or sale of some sort and the second to stay in the permanent collection. Some day it’d be nice to have a gallery space that exhibits the permanent collection.” Thorman adds: “We would love to get other people and their energy involved. It’s been great to watch Royal Nonesuch Gallery stay fresh by periodically bringing new people in to help run it.” Last month LOOP Arts welcomed its first new member, Karen Ficke Hathaway, who has begun helping with program development and outreach, as well as adding a valuable new voice to the team. Oakland has provided a great deal of inspiration for Hendon and Thorman while organizing the residency. Encouraging arts professionals, provocative organizations challenging models of the industry, and the wealth of artists in Oakland have provided support and sustenance for LOOP Arts to thrive. “In the same way that LOOP Arts is a residency for artists, by artists, the Oakland art scene has been built up by artists, for artists,” Hendon says. “Oakland artists support each other and we can spread the mentality throughout the entire Bay Area art community by helping artist stay in the business of making their work.” The current economic climate’s effect on arts and art-making in the Bay Area has not been lost upon LOOP Arts, either. “With all of the changes in San Francisco in the last few years, more and more artists are getting priced out and moving to Oakland. Even many of the artists who continue to show in San Francisco live and have studios in Oakland,” Thorman says. “Being in a city and a part of town where so many artist studios are (and right near the freeway) helps make us that much more accessible and easy for artists. We’re proud to be a part of the Oakland arts scene.”   Learn more about Ryan Hendon and Adam Thorman, and their Oakland-based print residency at Apply for a 2015 residency by January 1, 2015 here.

 Mercedes Dorame_Longwood Gallery Installation shot of LOOP Arts Resident Mercedes Dorame’s solo exhibition at Longwood Gallery, Bronx, NY.   Photo Courtesy of Mercedes Dorame