Who/What: Reese Johanson–founder of Art Klub, an arts and culture community center located at 1941 Arts Street. They are committed to offering a safe and inclusive space, cultivating creativity and engaging communities through artist residencies, performances, events, affordable rehearsal and meeting spaces, classes, workshops, and community programming for all ages.
Film by: UNO student and filmmaker Christian Mauldin
Editor’s Note: NolaVie partners with students of UNO professor László Zsolt Fülöp, pairing them with artists, non-profits, environmental groups, and cultural entities to facilitate a live curriculum that results in a short documentary. This documentary short was made by Christian Mauldin, a student in the Film and Theatre Department at the University of New Orleans, and focuses on Art Klub.
|Read the full transcript of the interview below|
I’m Reese Johanson, and I am the founder of the Art Klub. The Art Klub is an art and culture community center, and what we do here is stand for the expression of creativity–in whatever form it manifests.
There’s a big picture to what we do. It’s activism through the arts, but not an in-your-face kind of activism. We are open to people finding their voice, and it’s a safe space for expression.
Prospect 4 is a city-wide curated exhibition that is a triennial, so it happens ever three years. They offer up to local organizations, galleries, artists, (and) individuals to be satellite locations. P.S. (Satellite) is the satellite division of Prospect. Thank you Prospect! Art Klub is one of those locales. Sophia Rabinovitz is the lead choreographer and artistic director, and they have several performances that they’ll be doing while they’re here.
Funding is the big pain in the butt, I have to say. Basically, this [Art Klub] is coming out of my very limited, meager funds. I finally was able to find someone to help with that. We’ve started writing grants, and hopefully through grant writing we’ll be able to get some more funding. We are associated with a non-profit organization, so we can write grants and do fundraising. I have kind of been a team of one volunteer doing this for ten years now. And when I say volunteer, I mean it. No money. I basically continue to churn my personal money into this because of my passion for the arts and community and for the celebration of brilliant, creative people and collaboration. It would be good to get some funding, so we can do some of this expansion and continue to support the arts in our beautiful city.
I bought it [the building] in 2015, June 29, 2015, and over two years, we’ve been developing it, building it out, (and) working with City Hall to get all the proper permits. Even getting the authorization to do what I want to do here–not even considering the work for the permits–just to get the permission to start going for the permits to be here took a lot. It was another year to develop to the point so we could get our permits. We did our grand opening on September 16, 2017. Persistence, let me tell ya, it does pay off. That’s for sure.
On Saturday, February 24, Art Klub will have their closing reception for visual arts exhibit Scavengers – A Project of Prospect New Orleans – P.S. Satellite! There will be a happy hour food & drink specials, live music, and a chance to meet the artists. It begins at 5:00 PM, and to see a full calendar of events for Art Klub, you can check out them out here.