urban gray ballroom

Troy Briggs, Jon Brumit, Joe Jeffers, Jeff Kolar, Meredith Kooi, Michael Milano, David More and Shannon Stratton (Chicago, IL)

The Urban Gray Ballroom is a street-side staircase theater at elsewhere museum equipped with a sound system and custom console that includes inputs for the museum’s organ, a Werkstatt-01 synthesizer donated by Moog, as well as a handmade radio transmitter and doorbell created by Jeff Kolar. The ballroom was initiated to provide an alternative art space, created by and for artists as a forum to establish community and allow for flexible use and experimentation. It serves projects that might not be as accepted by large audiences, that don’t fit as well within models for art production and reception more readily available outside of it. As an “alternative” the ballroom was constructed to physically and metaphorically clear new space for artists within the institution of Elsewhere, which is itself an alternative art space. It’s presence at Elsewhere registers the need that artists have to choose from many kinds of alternatives to traditional museums and galleries in order to thrive.

The new theater was prepared by patching and giving the walls of the staircase a fresh coat of paint to draw attention to Martyna Szczesna’s double vaulted ceiling. The stairs were cleaned, sanded and refinished to provide proscenium seating.  The console was installed into the stair-landing for a traverse stage with seating potential on both sides of the building’s threshold. Performances are live broadcast from the ballroom throughout the museum and its neighborhood on 88.1 FM.

Contact documentarian@goelsewhere.org to book a show or find out more about the UGB.

This project was created as part of the Museum as Instrument curatorial initiative and funded in part by the North Carolina Arts Council.