Maleke Glee – Director, STABLE

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Maleke Glee - Director, STABLE

Maleke is inaugural Director of STABLE, a space for artists to think and create, fostering an arts ecosystem in Washington D.C. through their studios, residencies, projects and collaborations. Before joining STABLE, he held positions for the Studio Museum in Harlem and  Prince George’s African American Museum. He has produced exhibitions and programming with the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, No Longer Empty, DNA Works, Red Bull Arts, Sugarcane Magazine, TENTH Zine, John F. Kennedy Center, and Don’t Mute DC. Early in Maleke’s career, he co-founded Chocolate Redux, which provided cultural programs in response to the massive wave of gentrification in DC, a town long known as “Chocolate City.” Maleke obtained his M.A. in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College and B.F.A. in Arts Management from Howard University.

AF: Hi Maleke! We are so excited to chat with you. First thing’s first, we want to know more about your upbringing. Where are you from and what are the arts communities like there? 

MG: Thank you for having me!

 I am from Prince George’s County, Maryland, also known as “PG County.” I am very, very proud and grateful for the rich cultural experience that PG afforded me. It is a predominantly Black suburb of Washington, D.C. Growing up, I spent much of my time in the museums and theaters of D.C. thanks to my parents and grandparents. I am a theatre kid, so much of my childhood was spent at various camps and productions between D.C. and Maryland.

Growing up in a culturally affirming environment has deeply influenced my values professionally, socially and politically. 

AF: Please tell us a little more about yourself, when did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?

MG: I truly don’t think there was any other option. I remember my high school theatre teacher Ms. Clay, repeatedly sharing, “If you can do something else (other than the arts) then do it.” And I couldn’t imagine anything else. Albeit, at that time, I thought  I would have a career in television, writing for Saturday Night Live. I was introduced to the contemporary art realm soon after undergrad and decided to pursue that arena. I see common threads between the role of a director in theatre and film and that of a curator. However,  I do miss the sociality of theatre, everyone working toward a common goal, to tell the best story. As an art professional, the work can often be either quite isolating or transactional…that is not always the case, I have many great friends and colleagues whom I cherish.

AF: You are the Director of STABLE, an artist studio space in Washington DC. Tell us more about this role and what it looks like for you on a day-to-day basis.

MG: Whew! Everyday is different. I’ve learned to be agile, which perhaps is a key lesson in this life, to be nimble and flexible.I do a little bit of everything— applying for grants, facilities related matters, liaising with the artists, planning public programs, working with my board. I am  rowing the boat and mapping the course. I’ve learned a lot in this role. 

AF: This year marks the 5 year anniversary of STABLE! We would love to know more about STABLE, the community it cultivates, and what’s to come in the near future. 

MG: I like to think that STABLE is a sum of its parts, and the majority of its members are artists. There are nearly two dozen artists who call STABLE home, and I am firstly responsible to them, to ensure their working environment is healthy and generative. 

I am still figuring out who the community is; STABLE was challenged by the pandemic, the initial excitement and momentum was halted. STABLE aims to cultivate community through its programs and exhibitions. A recent “aha” moment I had was the intent to produce programs that replicate the generosity and intellectual intimacy of the studio environment, for artists who are working without a shared studio home. The program that manifested from that intention is “Open Forum,” a facilitated dialogue for artists to share ideas and works in progress. An artist cohort is selected by our guest facilitator for an intimate gathering of ideas, feedback, and support. These happen on Saturday afternoons, and I always leave feeling like I’ve left a seminar, there’s such great thinking that occurs and such great D.C. talent in the room.  I like to think of it as a democratic crit. 

I also look to our resident artist community for feedback and idea generation on what best may service their peers. STABLE seeks to support all facets of the arts ecosystem, in the near future, that looks like supporting writers, scholars and curators with opportunities to hone and showcase their craft.

Our anniversary is a yearlong celebration kicking off on Saturday, June 8th with our Annual Block Party. The Block Party includes an exhibition of all resident artists, open studios, a vendor market, DJs sets, a beer garden, and much more.

A little later in the spring I can announce a very exciting traveling project that makes a stop at STABLE!

AF: Outside of your Director role, do you have any projects that you are working on? 

MG: I am working on a chapter for two books. One chapter is in collaboration with my dear friend and thought partner, Quinci Baker. We are looking at Southern rap music videos as an archive of Black social history. The other chapter is about the FX show Atlanta; looking specifically at the fabricated media within the television show, and what it represents about the shape of real world realities and cultural remembrances. I am excited about both writing projects and generally about having a more active writing practice. 

AF: Do you have any personal goals for this year? 

MG:  I am loving my fitness and wellness routines, I want to keep that commitment and learn more about my body and its needs. I also want to show up better for my friends and family. I call this my “hosting era,” creating the environments I want to see. 

AF: As you know, Art Frankly is a community that cares about job transparency and supporting fellow art professionals. What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world? 

MG: Set your own standard. The art world is fickle in terms of its aesthetic and contextual trends, and as such, fickle in who and what it prioritizes. I have stayed afloat and inspired by a cohort of talented friends and colleagues. My barometer is shared with those whose voice I value, those who I can touch and probe. Find your people and remain dedicated to learning, independently, and if you can, with others.

AF: What is one Art Industry (or career) resource you love that is accessible to all? 

MG: Lectures and podcasts. Lots of my learning and introduction to artists has come by way of listening, while cleaning, driving, cooking, taking in information about the field and its players. 

AF: How do you think the art world can become more transparent? 

MG: I think one simple step is pay transparency. 

AF: Maleke, thank you so much for participating in Frank Talks, it has been a delight to chat with you! To finish off, we’d love to ask you our classic final question: If you could own work by 5 different artists/craftspeople, who would be in your collection? 

MG: I am happy to have the first artist that comes to mind, Quinci Baker, in my collection! My dream collection would also include Mosie Romney, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Torkwase Dyson, and Barbara Chase-Riboud. . 

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