In 2016, through friends of friends, Marika Hughes heard about a barn on a 15-acre field that was for sale in the rural hamlet of West Fulton, New York. The tiny town was full of creative people; musicians, theatre artists, ceramicists and more. She bought the barn.
Over the next few years, Marika, a cellist, and bassist Rashaan Carter excitedly explored the sonic possibilities of the space; recording improvised duos in experimentation. This sonic exploration led to a number of other recordings including Fay Victor’s acclaimed release, Barn Songs on Pi Records.
Looking Glass Arts was established as a non-profit organization in 2018 with plans to make a space for artists. What this would become was yet to be realized. But what we all saw right away was that the barn is the heartbeat of Looking Glass Arts.
In 2019, Willa Folmar joined the effort to help develop the organization. And then in early 2020 when the pandemic and subsequent shut-down hit, musicians like so many others, were cut off from sources of our income as venues shuttered and gigs and tours were canceled. Nonetheless, artists continued to write and compose and practice.
In 2021, Looking Glass Arts answered the conundrums of the shut-down by offering musicians fully-funded recording residencies in the barn at zero cost to the musician. This was our effort to counteract the ongoing impact the COVID-19 crisis had on artists. Without earning income the costs of recording new works were inaccessible to most.
So Marika invited musician friends, people she’d played with on and off for years, to come up to record their music, at no cost to them, in the barn. It was an environment we knew firsthand to be a literal breath of fresh air. Thanks to the generous support of individual donors, Looking Glass Arts was able to host five of these fully-funded recording retreats in the inaugural summer of 2021. We have been developing our programming since.