A Guide to 20 Top Artist Residencies and Retreats Across the United States

A Guide to 20 Top Artist Residencies and Retreats Across the United States
Sophie Barbasch, 2011 artist-in-residence at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
(Courtesy Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts)

The path to a successful art career can be a twisting one, but one commonly traveled route is the artist residency. There are hundreds of residencies out there, ranging from highly prestigious programs that are invitation-only — like those of Artpace, the Walker Art Center, or UCLA’s Hammer Museum, all of which mainly invite established artists to create fully funded projects — to more open, or even experimental, retreats.

Not all residencies are created equal, and while some may help you get a leg up in the art world, you may still have to pay for the opportunity. Programs can be grouped several ways: Some are fully funded without fees; some are partially funded with fees; some offer stipends/awards; still others are project/work based. There is even a thriving "alternative" category (check out Part 2 of this series where we’ll look at some of the funkier options out there). Despite the wealth of programs in the United States, and a plethora of funding options, there are few user-friendly guides —  though Res Artis and the Alliance of Artist Communities online directories are valuable resources. Below, we assemble information on 20 programs that cover the spectrum, offering the most important information for each, including who is eligible, important alumni, pros, and cons.  



18th Street Arts Center
Who: Local and International emerging artists
When: Visiting Residency 1-3 months; Mid-Term Residency 1 or more years; Long-term Residency varies
Where: Santa Monica, California
Notable Alums: Suzanne Lacy

The Santa Monica Center (once the headquarters of High Performance Magazine) has been in existence since 1988, and has a mission to "provoke public dialogue through contemporary ART making," offering the three options listed above for would-be participants. The Visiting Artist Residency hosts 16 to 20 emerging to mid-career artists, chosen annually, who are funded through partner organizations or self-funded. Travel costs and stipends are accomodated. Artists are given live/work studios through the center, as well as equipment and representation on the Web site.

[Fine Print]: While the Mid-Term Residencies may provide more space for a longer period of time, they are not funded and only offer live/work day studios for rent. Still, the prices are subsidized at below market value, from $1-2 per square foot, and between 400-1,000 square feet.


Adolf Konrad Artist-in-Residence Newark Museum Arts Workshop
Who: Emerging Artists in all areas of visual art
When: Five weeks between January and February
Where: Newark, New Jersey

One of the rare institutions with an open application process, the Newark Museum offers artists a stipend of $1,300 and access to fibers, metals, and a mixed-use studio, as well as access to the museum collections, special exhibitions, educational loan collection, and library. Participating artists will may act as jurors for the next year’s selections.

[Fine Print]: For the duration of the residency, artists are considered museum staff and must abide by staff hours of 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Atlantic Center for the Arts
Who: Emerging to mid-career artists
When: Three weeks
Where: New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Notable Master Alums: Radcliffe Bailey, Will Cotton, Rineke Dijkstra, Mark Dion, Carsten Nicolai, Rob Pruitt, James Siena, Thomas Struth

A mentoring program that pairs notable master artists with chosen associate artists to work closely for two hours a day, five days a week, with 24-hour access to studios and equipment. Since residencies are not product-driven, time can be spent on previously existing or new projects.

[Fine Print]: $850 non-refundable residency fee, $25 application fee, provided partial financial aid based on available funds.


Bemis Center for Contemporary Art
Who: Non-student artists
When: Residencies last between six weeks and three months. 
Where: Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha might not be an internationally recognized arts destination (yet!),  but the artist-run Bemis Center Residency sweetens the pot with a generous and flexible package to artists: a palatial live/work studio housed in a refurbished warehouse, a $750 monthly stipend, and access to on-site facilities.

[Fine Print]: $40 application fee. Bemis fellows are obliged to present a 20-minute presentation or performance of their work. At the end of the residency, artists are also asked to donate an artwork that represents their experience at the center.


Chinati Foundation
Who: Emerging to established artists of any age, background, and discipline
When:  The dates and duration of the residency are flexible, but usually last between two and three months.
Where: Marfa, Texas
Notable Alums: Christoper Wool, Rita Ackermann, Ellen Altfest, Steve Roden, Mark Flood, Adam Helms, Charline von Heyl, Matthew Day Jackson

Founded by Donald Judd in 1979, the Chinati Foundation provides resident artists a furnished apartment on the museum's grounds, a private studio in the sleepy town of Marfa, and a stipend of $1,000 to pursue their self-directed projects. Resident artists also have unlimited access to the museum’s collection and archive. A museum exhibition of the artist’s work takes place at the end of the residency.

[Fine Print]: Check under the bed for rattlesnakes and scorpions. 


The Edward F. Albee Foundation
Who: Emerging writers, visual artists, and musicians
When: Any four and six week period between the middle of May and the middle of October
Where: Montauk, New York

Founded in 1967 by dramatist Edward Albee, the eponymous foundation maintains the William Flanagan Memorial Creative Persons Center. Commonly known as "The Barn," the center is a modest communal environment for writers, painters, sculptors, and composers. Visual artists are provided a studio space in addition to a bedroom.

[Fine Print]: The foundation offers no stipend. Residents must provide for their food, travel, and miscellaneous expenses. It’s a two-mile walk to the beach.


Who: Emerging artists with a new media focus or collectives with up to three members
When: Five-month residency;  Eleven-month fellowship residency
Where: New York, New York
Notable Alums: Cory Arcangel, Sanford Biggers, Scott Patterson, Marina Zurkow, Rashaad Newsome

Either individually or as a collective, residents participating in the five-month program are awarded a $5,000 stipend in three installments to complete projects and use the resources of Eyebeam. There are no attendance requirements, and artists are given 24/7 access to the building. Participants of the eleven-month fellowship program are awarded $30,000 and in addition to their projects will lead public seminars, exhibitions, educational programming, and are an integral part of Eyebeam's research groups. 

[Fine Print]: Artists must already have the skills necessary to complete their projects or be able to obtain them independently, as there is no technical assistance available. There are no private studios and residents share a communal lab with desks, storage cabinets and other shared facilities. Fellows are asked to spend at least four workdays at Eyebeam during business hours. 


Fire Island Artist Residency
Who: Emerging queer artists
When: Summer
Where: Fire Island, New York
Notable Alums: A.K. Burns

In its second year this residency has already set a prestigious precedent — its inaugural selections were made by AA Bronson and Bill Arning. Visiting artists during the summer included Nayland Blake and Lyle Ashton Harris. Amenities include free live/work space in a converted beach house, a meal stipend, studio visits with renowned queer artists, and visiting artist talks. This year jurors will be Dan Cameron, senior curator of the Orange County Museum of Art, and artist Marlene McCarty.

[Fine Print]: $25 application fee


Kansas City International Residency Program
Who: Priority given to international artists who have never work in the US, although U.S.-based artists are welcome to apply.
When: One to three months
Where: Kansas City, Missouri
Notable Alums: Alicia Candiani

A unique program for mid-career international artists for immersion in Kansas City’s burgeoning art scene, the Kansas City Artists Coalition hosts a maximum of five artists with private rooms and shared studio space for one to three months. 

[Fine Print]: While the program is mostly for international artists, you must be able to speak English. Rooms and studios are not funded by the program but are available by contracts with fees.


Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace
Who: Emerging non-student artists working in a range of disciplines and genres. Writers are also eligible.
When: The nine-month residency lasts from September to May.
Where: Lower Manhattan, New York, New York
Notable Alums: Olek, Latoya Ruby Frazer, Simone Leigh, Mary Mattingly, Alison Ward, Rashaad Newsome, Liz Magic Laser, Kate Gilmore, “Work of Art” contestant Trong Nguyen

Workspace transforms temporarily vacant lower Manhattan office spaces into studios for visual artists. The grantees are awarded private or semi-private studios in downtown Manhattan, a one-time stipend of $1,000, and free publicity in the form of online features and open studios. Workspace residents also have the opportunity to apply for visiting artist status at SVA, NYU, and Harvestworks.

[Fine Print]: Workspace residents are responsible for their own housing. Since studio spaces are not medium specific, artists must also provide their own tools. If accepted, international participants are responsible for their own visa, travel, living, and housing expenses, and arrangements.  


Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Swing Space
Who: Visual artists and performers with at least three years of experience in their field who wish to execute a short-term project in an unconventional space.
When: Residencies last five months. 
Where: Lower Manhattan and Governors Island, New York, New York
Notable Alums: “Work of Art” champion Kymia Nawabi

Workspace's more inclusive sister program, Swing Space provides artists and performers free space to carry out short-term projects. Visual artists are placed in studios on Governors Island for five months, while performing arts projects are given rehearsal space in Lower Manhattan for up to 250 hours.

[Fine Print]: Swing Space does not provide any production support or stipend.


MacDowell Colony
Who: Emerging and Established Artists
When: Five to eight weeks typically
Where: Peterborough, New Hampshire
Notable Alums: Faith Ringgold, Meredith Monk, Willa Cather, Jeffrey Eugenides, E.L. Doctorow, Jonathan Franzen, Janet Fish, Studs Terkel, Michael Chabon

The first artist colony in the U.S., MacDowell has a long list of accomplished alumni from across the arts. Isolated cozy studios are spread over the grounds, and artists are greeted with hand-delivered picnic basket lunches each day. Annually, 250 artists complete residencies that are fully paid for by the not-for-profit colony, sharing space and producing work communally. Living space and studios are provided — all studios also have attached bathrooms, beds, and some boast showers.

[Fine Print]: No phone or Internet access in studios and artists must provide their own materials.


MAK Center Artists and Architects
Who: Young international artists and architects/students of architecture
When: Early March
Where: Los Angeles, California

Awarded twice yearly to two artists and two architects, the MAK-Schindler Scholarship offers six-month residency at the historic Mackey Apartments in L.A., designed by iconic architect Rudolf Schindler. Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture of the Republic of Austria alongside the MAK-Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, Vienna, artists receive a monthly stipend, support of the museum staff, numerous networking opportunities, a public exhibition, and a place in the MAK Center archives.

[Fine Print]: The focus of independent projects is to explore the relationship between art and architecture within the city of Los Angeles.


National Park Service Residencies
Who: Emerging and established artists
When: Varies depending on residency
Where: Parks across the United States

Who knew that the National Park Service has 42 existing artist-in-residence programs spread throughout the country, ranging from month-long live/work experiences at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton, Connecticut to the former Japanese internment camps of Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California! The NPS has three models of A-I-R programs: "Volunteers-in-Parks" requires artists to volunteer by presenting a program or demonstration for the public; "Partnerships" require a non-for-profit and the park combine to provide the resources for the residency; and the "Paid Staff" option involves hiring artists as seasonal employees to create public works or programming.

[Fine Print]: All the programs and locations are different. Less than 10 percent of the programs provide studio space or stipend.


Who: Emerging artists (summer residency open to arts faculty only)
When: Fall Residency is September 2-October 6, 2012 ; Summer Residency is June 3-August 18th 
Where: Saugatuck, Michigan
Notable Alums: Richard Artschwager, Nancy Spero, Jerry Saltz, Claes Oldenburg, Joan Mitchell, Nick Cave

One of the oldest and most prestigious art schools in the U.S., Ox-bow is located on an idyllic 115-acre property of farmland, marshes, and dunes. A mecca for recent BFA grads, Ox-Bow’s Residency Program offers a two-to-five week residency in the fall as well as a two-week summer residency open to arts faculty only. Evenings feature slide lectures, studio visits, and other arts programming.

[Fine Print]: The program costs $250 per week, though scholarships are awarded to 10 artists who demonstrate financial need.


Studio Museum in Harlem
Who: Artists of African and/or Latino descent.
When: Residencies begin in late September and continue for eleven months. 
Where: New York, New York
Notable Alums: David Hammons, Alison Saar, Maren Hassinger, Stanford Biggers, Julie Mehretu, Kehinde Wiley, Mikalene Thomas, Kira Lynn Harris, Simone Leigh, Clifford Owens

Every year, the Studio Museum offers three 11-month studio residencies to emerging artists of color working in any media. Selected residents are awarded free studio space, a $20,000 fellowship, plus a $1,000 stipend for materials. Artists have 24/7 access to the Museum's third-floor studios. At the end of the residency, the artists’ work is presented in the Museum.

[Fine Print]: Artists must secure their own housing. They are expected to work in the studio a minimum of 20 hours per week and participate in open studios and public programs.


Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture
Who: Emerging artists over the age of 21. An academic background in studio art is not required.
When: June through August, annually. The application deadline in November 
Where: Madison, Maine
Notable Alumni: Alex Katz, Eve Sussman, Dana Schutz, Kalup Linzy, Clifford Owens, Ellsworth Kelly, William King, Nancy Graves, and Janet Fish

Sixty-five participants are accepted annually to this prestigious and intensive nine-week summer residency taught by resident and visiting faculty artists. This rigorous program includes one-on-one critiques,  faculty lectures, and -- allegedly -- rigorous partying. 

[Fine Print]: Tuition is $5,500, although partial fellowships are available those who demonstrate need.


Smack Mellon
Who: Non-student artists
When: Eleven-month residency from May to March. 
Where: Brooklyn, New York
Notable Alums: Liz Magic Laser, Jennifer Dalton, Patty Chang, Yoko Inoue, Sharon Hayes

Launched in 2000 in response to the dearth of affordable work-spaces for emerging artists in New York City, the Smack Mellon Studio Program provides visual artists working in any media a $5,000 stipend and a private studio in a renovated industrial building between Brooklyn's burgeoning haute-hipster enclave, Dumbo.

[Fine Print]: Resident artists are responsible for their own housing. The $5,000 stipend is “dependent upon funding.” Some of the studios don’t have windows.


Vermont Studio Center
Who: Emerging to established painters, writers, sculptors, printmakers, and photographers 
When: Monthly
Where: Johnson, Vermont

The artist-run Vermont Studio Center is the largest artists' and writers' residency program in the U.S., hosting 50 international visual artists and writers per month. Artists are welcome to live and work for anywhere between four and 12 weeks on a charming 30-building campus along the Gihon River in Vermont's Green Mountains. Meals are served and prepared by an in-house chef.

[Fine Print]: Although need-based aid is available, the fee for the residency comes out to nearly $1,000 per week (a 4-week residency currently costs $3,950.)


Woodstock A-I-R
Who: Artists of color working in photography
When: Annually
Notable Alums: Latoya Ruby Frazier, Justine Reyes, William Cordova

The program offers seven residencies for artists and one “critical studies” residency for a curator/critic. Living space is located a short distance from the Center of Photography at Woodstock and 24-hour access is given to darkrooms, as well as stipends for food and travel, staff support, and honoraria.

[Fine Print]: Keep in mind that you'll be in one of the most popular hippie havens in the country. 

For information on application deadlines please check the residency Web sites. 

See also: A Guide to 20 Adventurous, Offbeat, Or Otherwise Outrageous Artist Residencies