As I turn the corner onto Elm Street, I am greeted with the loud boom of a trumpet. The resonating and unexpected sound is comparable to the feeling you get when you first discover Elsewhere, Greensboro’s legendary living museum and artist residence. Elsewhere has a long and unique history (which you can read about on their website) but has only existed in its current iteration since 2003. On any given, well, Wednesday to Saturday, visitors can be found at Elsewhere, discovering small mysteries, swinging in the front window, or exploring the library. It is not uncommon to find small weeknight events there, like artist talks and member dine-ins. This Saturday night was different though as Elsewhere celebrated 10 years with their fundraising extravaganza, Tomorrow.
Elsewhere is already a magical place, but on a chilly Fall evening, the museum is feeling particularly electric. The space glows with bright lights and an excited atmosphere. One of the wonderful aspects of Elsewhere is how engrained it is with the Greensboro community. On the first floor alone, the museum buzzes with college students, local artists and musicians, business owners, and so many more, all there to support this place they love. As I mill through the diverse crowd, I am simply exploring. I can hear tours taking place, drinks being ordered, and a mix of bluegrass and jazz playing on opposite sides of the building. Glitter sprinkles the floors and strings of lights shine throughout the space. The party is vibrant and unlike any experience I have had at Elsewhere to date. The artists in residence are all actively participating in the evening, serving drinks or selling merchandise, while others walk around and interact with the guests. One artist holding a lace umbrella approached me and covered us both with her umbrella, putting me face to face with a sign around her neck, “Tell me two things about yourself!” Feeling caught off guard I laughed, rattled off a few sentences and she moved on, as did I. This perfectly encompasses the experience of the night; whimsical, unique, at times humorous, and introspective.
Aside from wanting support Elsewhere, I was drawn to this party because all three floors of the building were open to the public. Now, if you’re familiar with Elsewhere, you know that this is special for the passing patron. Normally, only the first floor is open which provides a lovely but limited collection. Seeing the top two floors allow for more exploration and access to more work by the artists in residence. As I climbed the stairs, I saw a red light flooding the hallway above. The stark color actually highlighted the quirky and cluttered nature of the place. As I walked the hall, I would take detours into the small rooms filled with installations. These rooms are marked with large price tags with the name of the artist and installation. Though each room is different, they are all inspired by and utilize the materials found in Elsewhere, all singing the same song of organized clutter and chaos. My favorite room is called A Woman, A Plan, A Forest by Cat Jensen. The room is filled with mirrors, panes of glass, and glass display cases holding equally fragile artifacts. Though embodying the spirit of the museum through composed yet miscellaneous items, the reflection of twinkle lights on the fragile glass was breathtaking. Surrounded by glass, I was filled with both hesitation and awe. In their own way each of the remaining rooms, including the third floor, represent a new and uncommon take on gallery installations. Whether the room is full of small trinkets carefully placed on shelves, or stacked haphazardly with old chairs, the art causes you to stop, tilt your head to the side a bit, and think. The work is introspective, at times a bit weird, but always thought provoking.
More than anything, this visit to Elsewhere reminds me that inspiration can come from anywhere. The artists in residence come to this space without other supplies and create work that represets them and the place they are working and living all with objects found within the museum. As a writing and photographer, this inspires me, so I can only imagine how it has inspired other Guilford art students and Greensboro community members. We want to hear from YOU, people! Comment below and tell us about where you have been inspired. Or maybe how Elsewhere has impacted you. Keep searching, keep feeling inspired, and keep creating folks!