We reject the inherently problematic power dynamics between artist and curator, artist and institution, artist and audience and institution and audience. Instead we collaborate with artists, cultural organizers and commoners to co-create long-form, thematic engagements — modules and nodes — that reflect, critique, expose, and introduce issues and concerns that affect our commonwealth. Those engagements work within the expanded field of art and culture and may take the form of exhibitions, residencies, public projects, assemblies, reading groups, and experimental music and film program.
Both on local and global level, we are building a rhizomatic network, decentralized in its form, governance and funding mechanisms, each local connection playing a part in the reproduction of the global commons. Artists, cultural activists, and art commoners collaborate on continually perpetuating the commons via working in groups on specific topics, co-authoring of books and publications, self-organizing around common-centric topics and themes, co-producing exhibitions and cultural events, and more.
Here are some of the current critical engagements modules and nodes that we explore through collaboration and cooperation on local and global level:
Pro Arts Gallery: Module
We collaborate with artists, cultural organizers, activists and art commoners on the co-creation of critical discourse and deep reflections of the world we live in, through the traditional format of exhibitions, site-specific projects and presentations, and related event series (such as discussions, music series, conferences, screenings, talks, research-based projects, short-term residencies, published work, etc.) We use the platforms of our blog and print newsletter to expand the conversation beyond the constrains of the independent art scene. Our goal with this module is to reach those populations that are oppressed by the institutions of this society.
Pro Arts @ the commons: Module
This engagement module consists of a series of site-specific projects, public interventions, outdoor film and new media screenings, and transient experiences that take place in the immediate vicinity of Pro Arts Gallery – Oscar Grant Plaza. The plaza is the seat of government and thus a site for political rallies, civic unrest, and protests. In the Fall of 2011, the plaza attracted national attention as the site for Occupy Oakland.
In order to reclaim our urban commons, we need to occupy and activate them through artistic and critical engagements. We call the space created thereafter, the in-between
space. The in-between
space is a space that is not mediated by Pro Arts Gallery and has thus the potentiality to remain autonomous. The in-between
space promotes a rhizomatic structure of engagement with art, in which there are multiple, non-hierarchical access points to ideas that bring attention to the power dynamics between private and public, official and unofficial, and artist and audience.
The Hybrid Series: Module
This node blurs the traditional boundaries between artistic disciplines such as visual and performance art, music and literary arts, video, new media, and film. It also, on occasion, presents works that are a cross-breed between art and other disciplines. The series aims to serve as a departure from the more conventional mode of presentation in the arts. This node is co-created, co-produced and co-presented by RATSKIN Records imprint, Kalahati Project,
and Pro Arts Gallery.
Studio Lab: Module
Studio Lab short-term residency program serves as a platform for research-based projects that are based in open exchange, knowledge and resource sharing, and the common good. Some of the visiting artist, cultural organizers, activists, authors, architects, public intellectuals, critical theorists, and commoners may decided to participate in one of our other nodes or modules, co-creating programs and projects together with Pro Arts Gallery & COMMONS.
slow tech MAKER SPACE: Module
Through the newly established slow tech MAKER SPACE,
we share sustainable practices. This module’s focus is on disruptive technologies, sustainability, the commons, skill sharing, d.i.y. culture, cooperation, and co-production. Director of the slow tech MAKER SPACE is multi-disciplinary artist, technologist, and maker Praba Pilar.
Fiscal Sponsorship: Module
Pro Arts Gallery & COMMONS serves as a fiscal sponsor to individual artists, collectives and emergent organizations that lack tax exempt status, 501 (c) (3), in order to receive grants and solicit tax-deductible donations. Our fiscal clients include those who align with the commons-oriented values and models of operation. Current fiscal clients include: Betti Ono Gallery; Dream Farm Commons; FILF ; Kalahati Project, Ratskin Records
and others. We collaborate on new ideas, critical engagements and events through the sharing of material and immaterial resources. The fiscal sponsorship works on the basis of percentage fee that Pro Arts Gallery & COMMONS charges for the usages of its 501 (c) (3) tax status. However, proceeds are invested back into the COMMONS, through the co-creation and co-production of collaborative ideas, critical engagements, fair wages, and further research in the aesthetic strategy of the commons.
We gather bi-monthly with community members and fellow commoners, to exchange ideas, self-organize around pressing community and societal issues, share tools for cultural organizing and resistance, and exchange ideas on how to build our post-capitalist future.
Reading Groups: Note
We gather to read together, discuss, debate, question, and critically examine the ways our past, present and future connect, merge and evolve to define our work and the commons. Current reading groups include: Rosa Luxemburg, Deleuze & Guattari, and the Oakland Summer School. The Rosa Luxemburg reading group is co-produced in collaboration with the Oakland Free University.
Discourse & Debate: Node
We believe that exchange is crucial for reframing the value of art in the context of a social and solidarity economy. To that end, we collaborate with local and global fellow art commoners on cross-disciplinary debates, ambitious festivals,
Working Groups: Node
Engage in the research and development of commons-centric models for art organizing, production, and exhibition; Engage with specific issues, emergent from Pro Arts COMMONS, such as: alternative currency; alternative art market and economy; the future of art labor; historical movements that inform our present struggle; access and transparency in art organizing practices; systematic racism; infrastructural resources and new funding streams for the art and culture commons.
The class structure supports artists and cultural organizers through collaborations in shared space, through shared resources and audiences. Ongoing currently:
Adult classes in Chinese Calligraphy.
Pro Arts is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization. All donations to Pro Arts are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Our EIN # is 94-2259269.