David Cherry & Colin Gilmore

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Dec. 17, 2014) – Two years ago, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation transformed the artist’s former home and studio on Captiva Island, Florida, into a dynamic artists residency. Since the Rauschenberg Residency was launched, the foundation has offered seven five-week residencies each year. The Residency alumni boast dancers, writers, curators, filmmakers, fine artists and photographers alike. Typically, 10 artists are hosted at one time.

Two artists in residence recently spent time with the fifth through eighth-grade classes at The Sanibel School. Musician David Ornette Cherry introduced his “Organic Nation Listening Club” to the students with fellow artist, songwriter Colin Gilmore.

The duo discussed with students the origins of creating music, rhythms and tempos, and shared musical examples using various instruments including the piano, guitar, Melodica and a spirit flute from the Lakota Indian tribe, as well as showing how to use everyday elements including bubble wrap and Poinciana seed pods found on the island to create unique sounds.

Cherry, an award-winning Portland-based pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader, improviser and solo musician, has played with some of the great jazz artists of our time. He told the students how a wood-chopping accident one summer in Sweden led to his musical career. In addition to performing, he also trains young musicians in world music, theory and piano.

“In my world, the piano, the keyboard, sounds of nature and numerous instruments of traditional peoples and those who reside in urban society, touch and affect one another with a calming and symbiotic fervor,” said Cherry.

Austin-based Gilmore’s latest album, The Wild and Hollow, won critical acclaim and fans across the world. The Huffington Post’s music writer Mike Ragogna called it the “Best Americana/singer-songwriter album of 2013.”

“We are really excited to have these artists join us at the school,” said The Sanibel School Principal Barbara Von Harten. “Our students pass by one of Rauschenberg’s pieces hanging in our front office each day. To have the residency artists share their experiences with them is a symbol of continuing his work.”

The Residency program is inspired by Rauschenberg’s early years at Black Mountain College where an artistic community taught him the importance of learning from and working with others to break new ground.

“The residency advances new work, extends practices into new mediums, and serves as a research and development lab for performance-based projects,” said Ann Brady, director of the Rauschenberg Residency. “It fosters the ideal that artistic practice advances mutual understanding, and it engenders a focus on the conservation of a sensitive and pristine environment.”

For more information about the Rauschenberg Residency program and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation overall, visit www.rauschenbergfoundation.org.

Jake Mann

Daniel Hayes asks a question

Bella Myers plays bubble wrap