December 20, 2010
Posted by Sarah Louden
From 1939 to 1997, Sylvia Gray operated a multi-level thrift store in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. Throughout her life, the building housed eccentric collections of fabric, household goods, toys, and other bric-a-brac; eventually, the inventory came to resemble a hoard of tastes and memories, amassed into a fractured narrative.
The building came into the hands of Ms. Gray’s grandson, George Sheer, in 2003. Along with the help of collaborator Stephanie Sherman, the former thrift store emerged as Elsewhere Collaborative — a living museum and experimental arts platform.

Elsewhere Collaborative: Dreams exhibit
What exactly is a “living museum”? Well, rather than functioning as a traditional gallery, Elsewhere operates as an ever-evolving archive of Gray’s belongings. Additionally, the collaborative is a multifunctional exhibition space, performance venue, and community center. In 2004, Elsewhere gained status as a not-for-profit organization, and it began hosting artist residencies on an ongoing basis. The space aims to “foster communications between creatives and participants” while functioning as a collaborative community. Additionally, through a variety of interactive programs, Elsewhere offers visitors “a way to consider objects outside a system of monetary value.”
Elsewhere is, in essence, an opportunity for exploration. The collaborative provides a venue for lectures, performances, and unique installation projects for a diverse audience within Greensboro — a community that is gradually experiencing cultural and economic revitalization. Elsewhere also offers museum tours and weekly events such as book and gardening clubs, plus regular cooking events at Elsewhere’s vegetarian food co-op.

Elsewhere Collaborative: Speyes exhibit
Recent art exhibitions include the Greensboro sound artist Invisible (Mark Dixon and Bart Trotman). During a week-long stay at Elsewhere, Invisible transformed a sewing treadle machine into a musical instrument called the “Singer Songwriter.” At the culmination of their project, the artists performed a musical piece that incorporated their invention as well as an electric organ, a clock, and dripping ice blocks. During spring of 2011, Elsewhere will host a project entitled “Mildred Lane Goes Elsewhere.” The project is a collaboration with J. Morgan Puett and will include refurbishing the kitchen at Elsewhere, while simultaneously producing a series of public events and dinners.

Elsewhere Collaborative: Speyes exhibit
Elsewhere continues to change and expand in response to organizational and financial growth. The collaborative is excited to offer project stipends in 2011 to its creative staff, and it will welcome a new group of live-in visiting artists, apprentices, and interns. As an active experiment in preservation, cultural history, and the arts, Elsewhere hopes to maintain its successful role as a dynamic, multifunctional space, while continuing to extend its efforts in education and community outreach.