Posts Tagged ‘doug aitken’


I love Amtrak, and I love writing, but I don’t think I am ever going to do an Amtrak Artist Residency, so I am passing along the info so you can apply. It sounds like fun. Just glimpsing the exposed backs of houses along the tracks with their hints of the private lives lived in them is inspiration for a ream of stories.

William Grimes writes for the NY Times blog ArtBeat, “The wheels have begun moving on Amtrak’s plan to offer writers a rolling residency aboard their trains. … Up to 24 writers, chosen from a pool of applicants, will be given a round-trip ticket on a long-distance train, including a private sleeper-car room with a bed, a desk, and electrical outlets. …

“The idea was born in December when the novelist Alexander Chee, in an interview with the magazine PEN America, casually mentioned his love for writing on trains, and added, jokingly, ‘I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.’

“When Jessica Gross, a writer in New York, echoed the sentiment on Twitter, Amtrak arranged for her to do a trial residency on the Lake Shore Limited from New York to Chicago. She agreed.

“Her account of the trip, ‘Writing the Lake Shore Limited,’ published by The Paris Review in February, grabbed the attention of The Wire, The New Yorker and The Huffington Post. Soon after, Amtrak decided to turn the trial run into a full-fledged program.” More on when and how to apply.

Even before that series of events, there was the Whistlestop Arts Train, you know. I blogged about the rolling public art project by Doug Aitken last July, here.

Trains for dreaming. Holiday model train layout at Amtrak’s South Station, Boston.


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Some artists have had an idea that spins off the “whistlestop” train tours that politicians since Lincoln have taken to connect to voters.

Randy Kennedy writes at ArtsBeat in the NY Times, “Chartered train trips tend to conjure images of flag bunting, stump speeches and glad-handing politicians.

“But a cross-country whistle-stop tour now being planned as a kind of rolling public art project by the artist Doug Aitken might give train travel considerably more cultural cachet.

“Mr. Aitken, who works in Los Angeles and whose pieces in video and film often explore speed and people in transit, has organized a three-week journey from New York to San Francisco, with 10 stops in between, called ‘Station to Station: a Nomadic Happening,’ which will include not only shows by visual artists but also music, poetry and food. …

“ ‘This really came out of a kind of restlessness, the feeling that art forms are too often segregated, music played in the same clubs and art shown in the same galleries and museums,’ Mr. Aitken said in an interview. ‘I felt like we needed to experiment with a new model.’ ’

The trip will go from September 8 to September 28. Read more to see if it will stop in your town.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
President and Mrs. Roosevelt on a whistlestop tour.

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