John Hock, co-founder and former CEO of Franconia Sculpture Park, is making a fresh start in the Minnesota arts scene.
Hock, who left Franconia in August after the board terminated his position for “inappropriate conduct toward a young female,” according to documents disclosed by the board, will be artistic director of NE Sculpture Gallery Factory, a new artist residency program and exhibition space in the Casket Arts Building in northeast Minneapolis. It will be open to the public in spring 2019.
Hock’s exit from Franconia, located near Taylors Falls, left a hole in the artistic community, especially for those who work in large-scale sculpture.
The organization has ensured 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsorship from the Northeast Community Development Corporation, and it is working on a fundraising campaign from private donors. Hock’s position isn’t yet paid, but he said that the first year’s budget is $300,000, and he is looking into moving to northeast Minneapolis in the next year.
“Everyone is getting excited about it,” he said Saturday in a phone interview. “The business is filed with the state and with the feds, and it got its own new bank account last Thursday.”
Artists who make sculptures through the residency will have the option to exhibit them around the metro area. The space in Casket Arts is now a raw gallery, but it will be built out.
Hock said that NE Sculpture is also renting out an apartment for residents to live in during their stay.
The program is set to launch in April, with plans to support more than 25 artists or artist teams. The first three residents scheduled for a March stay with an exhibition in April are Kelly Cave, Richelle Soper and Vanessa Mastronardi, all once interns at Franconia.
As with Franconia, the residencies will be paid, but steering committee member Carissa Samaniego said that at this time they do not know what the pay will be. “We want to be able to guarantee a significant amount and housing,” she said. “We are not sure what the timeline looks like.”
In the wake of his departure from Franconia, Hock is eager to move forward. He noted that after his termination, there were “more than 50 letters of support for me, with 90 percent of those letters from women, written to the board of directors.”
Although the organization has not had its first steering committee meeting, the 2019 schedule is already planned out, with more than half the upcoming shows by people on the steering committee.
“Come June, we are gonna be really active,” said Hock. “We’ll be putting stuff out quickly.”