Pioneer Winter and his organization, Grass Stains, won a 2014 Knight Arts Challenge grant. Over chicken souvlaki wraps and fried calamari, we spoke about his aspirations for Grass Stains and how it will benefit the community.
The Grand Step Project by Stephan Koplowitz at New York Public Library, 6/17/04.
Neil de la Flor: What's the mission of Grass Stains? Pioneer Winter: Grass Stains seeks to provide a platform for South Florida-based performing artists to come together bimonthly to create site-specific work throughout Miami, which is free and open to the public. The artists will choose from a set of curated locations – locations where they might not normally choose to create work. This presents itself as both a "challenge" to create work in non-traditional spaces, as well as bringing professionals together for the sake of a common goal: pushing the boundaries of their practice and making that same work accessible to a wider audience.
ND: Why is Grass Stains vital for the community? PW: Grass Stains is a response to costly venue rental and theater fees, and the growing desire of artists to create work that is socially and culturally relevant to their Miami community. Artists are already seeking out non-traditional spaces to perform – this project helps find additional locations, organize, present, assist with permitting/market, and pay local artists who are up for the challenge of creating site-specific work. Participating in Grass Stains will not only help local South Florida artists hone their skills in site-specific performance, but also allows them the opportunity to work one-on-one with noted Guggenheim Fellow and Bessie Award-winning artist Stephan Koplowitz. Koplowitz will visit Miami from his position as Dean of Dance at Cal Arts to work with the participating choreographers in a rigorous, site-specific, week-long workshop.
The Grass Stains logo.
ND: How will you fund Grass Stains beyond the Knight Arts Challenge Grant? PW: Grass Stains willing be seeking individual donors, county and foundation funding. Right now, we have our fingers crossed for a WakeMaker grant through Cannonball Miami. If successful, it would make the rest of our matching process much smoother.
ND: What advice do you have for artists who want to win a Knight Arts Challenge grant? PW: Keep applying. Think about what Miami has already – what it's already doing for itself. See if there are any gaps, or perhaps a project that can help Miami reach these objectives in a simpler way. Think about the community and how your project will impact both artists as well as arts patronage. The first step is only 150 words, right? So in those 150 words, don't get lost in the minutia and forget you need to also convey your passion. And be practical.
ND: What's next for Pioneer Winter? PW: Right now, I am co-developing with Jared Sharon a new transmedia dance theater work titled "Sirens in Space" to be performed at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium OnStage Blackbox on Thursday, April 9th. Think femme fatale, crazy space pirates and an operatic cyborg-like ship mixed with film projection, contemporary dance, and off-the-wall beauty regimens.
Tickets for "Sirens in Space" are on sale here.