I first became acquainted with Stuart Allen and Cade Bradshaw of Bridge Projects at the opening of LIFT: An Exhibition of Kites, which you can still get a chance to see through December 31 at Artpace. At LIFT, they spoke about the projects they have been working on, including community and student art workshops. They have purchased property near the Hays Street Bridge on the east side of downtown, where they will be opening a workshop and gallery space to further expand their community art outreach projects. With the controversy that has been surrounding the development of land bordering the historic bridge, the prospect of a new studio space that promises to give to the already arts-centered neighborhood – rather than take – is a positive spin on the changes that are taking place.
I recently had the opportunity to visit their studio space in Alta Vista and speak with Cade Bradshaw about everything that Bridge has currently going on, as well as their plans for the future.
Can you tell me about how you two [Bradshaw and Allen] started working together as artist?
Bradshaw: I was a student of Stuart’s for a number of years, and I was looking to see where my career was going to take me. We ultimately decided to open this business together; I have a background in youth development, I worked for a summer camp for a number of years. We both realized that there was room for someone to make really amazing things with youth or with adults. We feel like people have a real urge to want to make things, so we wanted to foster that. [The kites exhibit at Artpace] is a big part of Bridge – I think the kite is a really good vehicle for this, there’s something about the combination of art, and science, and community, and the desire to make things together as a group. San Antonio really has such a great, very talented pool of artists who exhibit nationally and internationally, and I don’t think people really know about that. They think that Austin is the visual arts capitol of Texas, but it’s really not.
Where do you normally host your classes and workshops?
Bradshaw: We host them at different places. We host some here in this studio space, but we have also held some at different locations… SAMA, Artpace, local public and private schools… schools in Houston, schools in Beeville… Generally, our motto is that we will come to you, and we will bring everything that we need to host a successful workshop. With some schools in our community, a big challenge is getting kids to us. Getting them on the bus, getting forms signed, all of that costs money. So if we can cut that out for them, that’s a big win for the schools. As art funding goes down in public schools, and permanent art teachers are laid off, we want to go in and support the schools in that way, and be able to offer that service.
What is your timeline for opening up the new space downtown?
Bradshaw: We’re looking at some time in the next year and a half, possibly 2018 or early 2019. We think it’s a good thing that we are taking our time in developing that space, because it will allow us to really establish ourselves and develop a strong base of people who are interested in what we do, and who are going to want to visit the space immediately once it’s open to the public and ready to go. It will also allow us to position everything nicely so that we are addressing the right audience.
Once the new studio space is open, do you have any plans to expand the services that you’re offering, or will you continue doing what you’re currently doing, but on a bigger scale?
Bradshaw: A little bit of both. We do have plans to do a larger summer program, to expand the spectrum of courses available. Our ultimate goal is to leverage the talents of people in the community, so we want to do a number of different workshop camp weeks, where there’s a different skill being taught. So it won’t just be kite-making, or art classes, but maybe there’s a baker or a gardener who wants to teach a camp about their skill. So we can bring those people in as instructors to teach that class, and thereby give different talent in the community a place to have their voice, and also give youth and adults as well a place to learn different specialized skills.
Click through the gallery below for visual examples of the workshops that Bridge Projects currently has to offer, and be sure to visit their website to stay up to date with their future classes and workshops.