Residency Arquetopia

Residency Arquetopia located in Puebla, Mexico
They were in a rush to get my bank transfer.
Once I got there, they gave me a studio separated from the group because I paint in oil. They never told me before hand I would be painting in a separate room.
The room was located on the fourth floor made out all off glass without air conditioned and with way too much light for a painter! Think about it were in Mexico! It is super hot and sunny. A room made out of glass really! I couldn’t paint a hole week. They didn’t offer anything to compensate the money I lost. They didn’t reply to me for 3 days because it was apparently the week-end and once they respond they did act like I was disturbing them. It took them too long to react and their only idea was to put paper in the window. They had no excuse. They knew an artist painting in oil was coming right! Anyway, I was unable to paint during the hole residency because it was too hot.

One of the guy is an American and he knows exactly what he is doing business wise.
During the residency they never came to ask genuinely how we were and to make sure we were fine. They kept to themselves.
All the resident there were mostly young women having an art residency experience for their first time.
When I ask for a formal receipt of the art residency for my tax purposes, they never responded to me. I emailed them several times. I never heard back.

What was included in this art residency?
-Four week residency
-Four individual meeting with text to read
-a room and one meal included a day
The price: 1,780$ US. It did cost me 2,520$ in Canadian dollar.

This residency is all about the business of financing their big houses and the music school of the owner.
I don’t recommend it unless you are desperate.

11 comments
  • Anonymous

    I have some comments relating to Arquetopia’s Oaxaca space.

    Worried residency was a scam.

    I was anxious this residency was a scam at first. As mentioned above, the residency was in a rush to get my money. It took several emails before I was provided with a receipt of payment. It took several more before I was provided with a formal letter of support – and I only got this when I asked for my deposit back.

    Poor correspondence in relation to schedules.

    Myself and the other artists in my intake are all professionals. We make a living from our work and we were all working to deadline. It would have been helpful to know that the residency included: weekly meetings, up to 100 pages of readings each week, and tours (personal and group, depending on the course of study), in addition to the specified classes. I would often get less than 24 hours notice as to when a tour or a meeting was on. In one instance, I was emailed at 9pm at night for a 9am tour. This lack of a schedule is very difficult and was the hardest thing for me. If the residency could be more organised and send out a weekly schedule, this would have been greatly helpful.

    The residency rules, which arrived some days prior to arrival, had some alarming warnings about Mexican men.

    ‘Men have friendlier physical contact than generally seen in the USA and Canada; these gestures should be accepted willingly.’ Really? Having now spent two months in Mexico I have found the men (and women), to be extremely polite and respectful of personal space. I think this is quite insulting to Mexican people.

    The ‘studio’ [Oaxaca residency] was four plastic picnic tables in a dark shed. The seats were tiny stools with no backs. The residency manual does caution: ‘Visitors accustomed to lifestyles that would be considered high-maintenance to Mexicans or Peruvians are expected to adapt, to understand and respect that it is of no responsibility to anyone in Latin America or at Arquetopia to replicate such details here. We enjoy life here for what it is without being preoccupied with comparing how things are done elsewhere.’

    On the readings.
    The artists in my group / intake were given the same readings, just on different weeks, despite a promise that these would be catered to our individual projects. The content was often unrelated to our specific projects. The director could be intimidating in meetings and wasn’t above putting down ideas that didn’t fit with his own conceptions on time and space. Better support and interest in our individual projects could greatly enhance this experience – because the intellectual element that the readings brought was fantastic.

    On completion, I offered to give feedback to one of the directors, which might help the experience of future residents, but the offer was ignored. It’s my hope that this feedback may help prospective artists when making decision about how and where to spend their time

    I hope this is helpful to any prospective residents.

    I wouldn’t have posted publicly, but it seemed the residency was not keen for any feedback to improve.

  • anonymous

    In some ways this residency was really valuable, but there were a few key issues for me. I outline these below:

    1. Worried residency was a scam.

    I was anxious this residency was a scam at first. As mentioned above, the residency was in a rush to get my money. It took several emails before I was provided with a receipt of payment. It took several more before I was provided with a formal letter of support – and I only got this when I asked for my deposit back.

    2. Poor correspondence in relation to schedules.

    Myself and the other artists in my intake are all professionals. We make a living from our work and we were all working to deadline. It would have been helpful to know that the residency included: weekly meetings, up to 100 pages of readings each week, and tours (personal and group, depending on the course of study), in addition to the specified classes. I would often get less than 24 hours notice as to when a tour or a meeting was on. In one instance, I was emailed at 9pm at night for a 9am tour. This lack of a schedule is very difficult and was the hardest thing for me. If the residency could be more organised and send out a weekly schedule, this would have been greatly helpful.

    3. The residency rules, which arrived some days prior to arrival, had some alarming warnings about Mexican men.

    ‘Men have friendlier physical contact than generally seen in the USA and Canada; these gestures should be accepted willingly.’ Really? Having now spent two months in Mexico I have found the men (and women), to be extremely polite and respectful of personal space. I think this is quite insulting to Mexican people.

    4. The ‘studio’ [Oaxaca residency] was four plastic picnic tables in a dark shed. The seats were tiny stools with no backs. The residency manual does caution: ‘Visitors accustomed to lifestyles that would be considered high-maintenance to Mexicans or Peruvians are expected to adapt, to understand and respect that it is of no responsibility to anyone in Latin America or at Arquetopia to replicate such details here. We enjoy life here for what it is without being preoccupied with comparing how things are done elsewhere.’

    5. On the readings.
    The artists in my group / intake were given the same readings, just on different weeks, despite a promise that these would be catered to our individual projects. The content was often unrelated to our specific projects. The director could be intimidating in meetings and wasn’t above putting down ideas that didn’t fit with his own conceptions on time and space. Better support and interest in our individual projects could greatly enhance this experience – because the intellectual element that the readings brought was fantastic.

    6. On completion, I offered to give feedback to one of the directors, which might help the experience of future residents, but the offer was ignored. It’s my hope that this feedback may help prospective artists when making decision about how and where to spend their time.

    * An after note: it would have been wonderful to have been connected into the Oaxaca arts community. I had a previous residency at Youkobo Art Space in Japan where all residents were required to present an exhibition for the broader Tokyo public and / or a public talk about their project. This was a great way to connect with other artists in the city and something that Arquetopia could really benefit from.

  • SamWiseArt

    As a printmaker having attended Arquetopia, the opportunity has indelibly changed my life and my work as an artist and professor. If I were to offer my own advice here, it would be to ignore the haters. Serious and organized artist residencies like Arquetopia with committed faculty and mentors are rare and *so* important for artists to immerse, strengthen, and really flesh out their artistic vision and individual growth. This one is so personal and high-level as it also allows artists of whatever their background, to understand and critically think about their relationships to places, cultures, and people as a foreigner and as an artist not only within the space but outside it. I would not have developed the level of discipline, intelligence, direction, and pushing through blocks in my art practice if not for my two intensive residency periods at Arquetopia.

  • Anonymous

    I would like to contribute some comments regarding this “residency”. I am a Mexican artist from Puebla, I had never heard of this residency, their gallery or any of the organizers before. They don’t really seem to be involved within the artistic community of Puebla or very keen on contributing to the cultural local scene. This for me is a red flag, as the residencies I have been to they are always very involved within the community and seek to involve the artists they invite as well.

    The second red flag is the fees they are asking for, specially for Puebla, you can rent a nice Airbnb, have good meals and perhaps even attend some artists workshops around the city for the price they ask, and stay in Puebla for a month and a half instead of the 2-3 weeks they offer. Their open calls are exclusively aimed towards foreigners, they are not interested in hosting Mexican artists because no local artists would pay such fees. It happens fairly often that people in Mexico want to take advantage of foreigners and charge them way more than they should, because they know that some foreigners will not see it as “too expensive”. Together with what I have read here, it all seems a bit fishy, and it seems they only care about getting as much money from the artists as they can without really offering a good quality residency with an actual curriculum value.

    If you are looking for a serious residency, I think this is not the one to go for. If you want to come to Mexico and experience the country, the local life, etc. I also think you are better off visiting on your own rather than paying such high fees for this “experience”. I would not call this a residency at all.

    • Andrea

      I was at the Arquetopia centre in Puebla recently and it was the best 4 weeks I spent in any residency in years. I was unsure at first of getting on there as it seemed I was outnumbered by many more artists younger than myself. But it did not matter. I highly recommend this challenging residency if focused on taking your work and research to a new level and especially open to learning because it really was like “back to school” in some respects. But that’s part of what made it so useful and memorable to me. The curated readings, I got a lot out of this and looked forward to more, but 2 of the (younger) women artists in my group seemed oddly intent on finding boyfriends and would complain after falling behind in the reading materials, which got irritating to me and some others trying to remain focused on their own projects in the studio. In all I finished about 90% intended production for an upcoming show, made some good amigos including the three directors/coordinators and several more out in the local printing community. Am considering to apply again next year for the summer

  • Kate M.

    In my own experience, I could not disagree more with the original post about this phenomenal program and organization in which I have been fortunate to participate twice (2nd time invited back on a full scholarship).

    ME: Female, mid-30s, latinx, multimedia artist, at times a writer, mainly based in Brooklyn, NY, USA. I’ve attended nearly 20 residencies (and even worked at 2 of them) over the past 8-9 years, large and small (some paid/funded and others not) in the USA, Europe, southeast Asia, and Australia. I rank my turns at Arquetopia in the top 3 of these, and I intend to go back someday when I can make it to their new center in Peru.

    During and since attending for their natural dyes course in 2015 in Oaxaca and returning in early 2018 for self guided at their Puebla residency, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about and reprocessing my experience there and the profound questions I encountered in regard to my personal identity, my art, power, and the world at large. The educational portion is intense and the critiques are honest if not brutal in some cases. In all, it was a challenge. I worked out some demons and resigned to the fact that I will never produce images in the same way again. But in my case, I feel I broke through a major wall. If you are averse to reading and discussing race/class/gender/power/colonization and art, or if you prefer a whole place to yourself and interacting with others is totally not your thing, or if you seek a resort where you’ll be pampered by brown people, Arquetopia would probably not be a good fit for you.

    About the fee —not at all unusual for international arts orgs in this world economy in flux— it is common knowledge that they are an independent AIR unfunded by outside sources. I found the tuition cost to be consistent and in fact generous, with everything that was provided (support/involvement, homemade meals & other groceries, project & logistics coordination, equipment, etc) as it really is a lot. Even with my self-guided session this was the case, and during my first residency there, the directors even personally made a superb Thanksgiving dinner for everyone. At a considerable number of other residencies, I was basically given a key and an empty room with no guidance to my surroundings, let alone in regard to my project or practice. I feel the original poster especially did not convey these aspects adequately. As for the other issues, I also used the separate oil studio for several days near the end of my stay and never found it hot or unpleasant, in fact Puebla itself was colder than I had anticipated. It was stated to our group on arrival that the oil studio (which is beautiful, btw) was designed for max light and ventilation. I enjoyed using it with another in our group with whom I collaborated.

    Though their crew is apparently small, they are committed professionals. They were always available when I needed them without being intrusive nor aloof (however, the original poster is correct that they are not around on weekends; this is disclosed to artists ahead of time in their comprehensive and well-organized guidebook). I also received formal support letters/documents from Arquetopia for travel grants and was successful in obtaining necessary funding both times. Their “big houses” mentioned in the original post are their 3 art residencies, and they also live on site.

    • Jeff

      I have had both experiences…most recently last month. The organization is different now, I complained about the horrible living conditions and the fact that they fed us on the cheap for the one meal they provided. Razor wire everywhere….apparently they are NOT respected in the local community. The garden was unkept…the gardener quit or something like that, like the chef who up and left two weeks before the new batch of residents arrived. We never saw anyone during the day, not like before. I was supposed to have a show (oh, did I mention that I was invited back?) but they wouldn’t show me the joke of a tiny gallery for two weeks. As a dissatisfied paying customer who was accused of being disrespectful, racist, and homophobic (oh, did I mention I’m a part Latino, gay male?) They only accused me of this because they couldn’t afford to refund me, like Paco said he would, and they kicked me out. Oh, and his non-English speaking father threatened to call the police on me. I wasn’t the only one who left.

      FOR YOUR SAFETY, COMFORT, AND RESPECT, DO NOT PAY A DIME TO GO HERE. Working conditions would fail OSHA standards and local agencies should investigate them.

      I was also in one of the removed studios on the roof that would go from 30 degrees at night to 80 in the day…..impossible conditions for Talavera clay.

      The program person is not good and would let’s us know of scheduled events or meetings under 24 hours – a lack of professional consideration to our time in the studio.

      It felt totally sketchy from the start.

      And why does the executive director drive a brand new red Mercedes? (Always hidden under a tarp) I guess that’s what you pay for….the anti-imperialist driving a new benzie

  • Shoshana

    I would not pay so much money for a Residency.
    I Wonder why artists do that anyway. Can’t you paint at home for free?
    I was in several residencies throughout my life, and they all PAID ME to attend them.
    I wish artists wouldn’t be taken advantage. It’s horrible.
    If you want to travel, pay for airbnb and take your sketchbook or camera with you.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so sorry you had such a bad experience in my country, I’m sure they didn’t understand your needs, but just one comment for your information, in Mexico we don’t use air conditioning either heat, unless you’re staying in a luxury home or hotel or at a north city such as Monterrey, and even there only wealthy people would have those facilities since they’re luxury ones. Not even government buildings, schools or public hospitals offer them, It’s important you know it for further experiences in Mexico.

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