Skydive is the program's fist landing pad in the United States following a launch in Berlin (after this week, Many Mini's heading to Copenhagen). Organizers Sarrita Hunn and Ryan Thayer were previously acquaintances with Skydive co-founder and director Sasha Dela. "She approached us about hosting one here," says Thayer, who exhibited at Skydive in the summer of 2009 (wife Hunn also showed her work in the recent Skydive exhibition, Chunks).
Continues Thayer, "We both visited Houston, and seeing that there was this really active, dynamic art scene, we thought it would be a great opportunity to use Skydive and bring local artists into the conversation." Logistically, Skydive offers a convenient bed and breakfast in its library that allows Hunn and Thayer a place to crash between their noon-to-noon shifts.
"We both visited Houston, and seeing that there was this really active, dynamic art scene, we thought it would be a great opportunity to use Skydive and bring local artists into the conversation."
A few months back, the organizers dispatched an open call to applicants of all disciplines to propose a use for Skydive's downstairs room that would host the respective residencies over the course of 24 hours for one week.
Some residencies are private, but a handful of participants have the doors open for the general public. University of Houston art and architecture librarian Tina McPherson converted her space into a salon about the role of libraries based loosely around the narrative of Alice in Wonderland. Surrounding a potluck and discussion table were enlarged photographs taken during a recent trip to build and fortify libraries in Peru.
On Tuesday, the DumpTruck collective designed, built and set conceptual and real traps to capture residents and visitors. Afterward, performance artist Matt Wolff planned and rehearsed his rendition of Moby Dick. Capping off the night was a sleepover led by Lindsey Slavin, rife with prank calls, makeover madness and BYOB revelry.
"That slumber party got kind of crazy," Thayer says.
At 10 p.m. on Thursday, performance artist Emily Sloan (playing the role of alter ego Zarvin Mindler) will screen The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas as a tribute to the reporter who revealed the infamous La Grange brothel — the unforgettable Marvin Zindler.
Fans of Sloan's Nap Church may appreciate Rachel Hecker's agenda to convert Skydive into an ecumenical/non-denominational chapel with a painting of Jesus based on a photograph of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour serving as a centerpiece (Friday, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.). Those with less optimistic leanings may attend "Death Star: The Conference," a performance event and research project that examines new theories of doom and their effects on society.
Many Mini closes out on Saturday with a midnight DJ set, mimosa-drenched breakfast symposium and kiddie pool confessional. Guests will also have the opportunity to collaborate with local audio walking tour extraordinaire, Carrie Schneider from 5 to 7 p.m.
Thayer reports that in its first days, Many Mini has been a ravishing success. "We've gotten an overwhelming response," he says.
Many Mini's fresh take on artist residencies is just one indicator of the changing tide of visiting artist programs. Consider the inaugural artist in residency program at 14 Pews, or Glasstire's Virtual Residency. Yet Many Mini stands out for its emphasis on diversity. In a way, the week-long parade offers a survey of what's happening in Houston at a particular moment. Remarks Thayer, "I think of it as creating a portrait of a city."
For more information on the public programs, visit ManyMini.org.