A Brief History of the Conversations

August 15, 2012

A Brief History of the Conversations

I’ve been thinking that it would be a good idea to list out the titles and guests for the conversations we’ve been having. I don’t have records for all of them, but I have enough.

First, a little background on how the series came about:

When I became editor of Reflex, a regional art magazine, in 1994, I inherited a series of regular panel discussions on art at the Two Bells Tavern (and before that, Italia), effectively a sister project to the magazine. When Reflex folded in 1996, I kept the panel series going for another few months, then let it go. A year or so later, Chris Bruce, longtime senior curator at the Henry and EMP, suggested that I resurrect the discussions as a project of the Contemporary Art Council at SAM. We held those CAC evenings in the back room of Lead, a First Avenue wine bar. When Lead closed, roughly around 1999, the project moved to Otis, a café and bistro in the space where the Hideout is now. Not long after, the project separated from the CAC.

By then, I had evolved the conversations from a panel format to something closer to current roundtable setup. And I began to realize that it would be a good idea to begin to look at art through a variety of lenses: gravity, light, death, circus, community activism, and so on.

When Otis closed in 2004, the conversations moved to the Lower Level, the bar in the basement of the old Capitol Hill Arts Center, and stayed there until 2009, when CHAC closed its doors. The conversation then moved around the corner to Vermillion, the bar and art gallery, and the conversation’s current home.

I have a ready record of the discussions going back to 2002, though 2002 is a little spotty. I can unearth the details of what came before, including the old Reflex panels, but for now, we’ll just look back to 2002.

My thanks to all guests and to all participants who’ve shown up over the years. Regrets to those who were part of the series before 2002. Stay tuned. And please note that guests are identified as they were at the time of the conversation. I know that some may have moved on to new things.

Reflections on Light, Part One—January 28, 2002

  • Astronomer Woody Sullivan
  • Artist and architect Iole Alessandrini
  • Lighting designer Michael Wellborn
  • Architectural historian Henry Matthews

Going Abroad: Inspiration, Appropriation, or What? A look at travel and the dynamics of creativity —March 25, 2002

  • Photographer Eduardo Calderon
  • Writer and television producer Holly Morris
  • Photographer Spike Mafford

Outlaws in the Floating World: Searching for Jan Morris’s Nation of Nowhere—December 2, 2002

  • Artist Susan Robb
  • Artist and curator Greg Lundgren
  • Performer Maque da Vis
  • Radio activist jonathan jay

Sound, Part One—January 28, 2003

  • Composer and writer Christopher DeLaurenti
  • Musician and composer Jeff Greinke
  • Sculptor, composer, and inventor Trimpin
  • Writer and radio producer Feliks Banel

America as Empire—March 18, 2003

  • Writer Charles Tonderai Mudede
  • Writer and philosopher Nicholas Veroli
  • Artist and activist Mary Ann Peters
  • Historian Carol Thomas

Sound, Part Two—May 12, 2003

  • Visual and sound artist Steve Roden
  • Composer and performer Ellen Fullman
  • Choreographer Crispin Spaeth
  • Filmmaker and film activist Jamie Hook
  • Composer and sound artist Suzie Kozawa

The Art of History—October 13, 2003

  • Media arts historian Robin Oppenheimer
  • Art historian Andrew Schulz
  • Artist Astrid Larsen

The Politics of Theater and the Theater of Politics—November 16, 2003

  • Writer, director, and teacher Herbert Blau
  • Actor and writer Susy Schneider
  • Writer and political activist Grant Cogswell
  • Actor, director, and playwright Kurt Beattie

Water, Part One—January 20, 2004

  • Artist Ellen Ziegler
  • Sailor, diver, and printer Robert Horsley
  • Landscape designer Cary Moon
  • Fisherman and food activist John Foss

Art and Community—March 8, 2004

  • Arts administrator and activist Barbara Luecke
  • Artist, activist, and publisher Anya Willow
  • Writer, activist, and art historian Susan Platt
  • Artist, activist, and teacher Beverly Naidus

Resources and Tactics, Information and Action—April 19, 2004

  • Library and Information Sciences student Dianne Ludwig

The Struggle for Common Sense in the World of Tomorrow—November 9, 2004

  • Artist and activist Mary Anne Peters
  • Activist, poet, and teacher Bob Spivey
  • Journalist Cydney Gillis
  • Artist and activist Lisa Bade

Food—February 8, 2005

  • Farmers market manager Karen Kinney
  • Food librarian Matt Nichols
  • Farmer Cathryn Baerwald
  • Poet and painter Alan Lau

Circus!—March 8, 2005

  • Maque DaVis, Cirque de Flambe
  • Lara Paxton, Circus Contraption
  • Kevin Joyce, UMO Ensemble and EnJoy Productions
  • Doloreze Leonard, Teatro ZinZanni
  • And guest host, Meg McHutchison

Persistence of Painting in a Digital Age—September 12, 2005

  • Drake Deknatel, painter
  • Elizabeth Brown, curator
  • Billy Howard, art dealer
  • Margie Livingston, painter

Tools—October 3, 2005

  • Gail Grinnell, artist
  • Chris Vondrasek, sculptor, woodworker, small contractor, and radio producer
  • Sky, tool guy
  • K.d. Schill, weaver, costume artisan, seamstress, and dancer

The Struggle for Common Sense in the World of Tomorrow, Revisited—November 7, 2005

  • Lisa Fitzhugh, founder and then Executive Director of Arts Corps
  • Bill Moyer, founder and Executive Director of the Backbone Project
  • Jennifer Lindenauer, Communications Director for MoveOn.org

Gravity—January 9, 2006

  • Camille Slack, artist
  • Ruth Marie Tomlinson, artist
  • Sheri Cohen, choreographer
  • Ricco Bonicalzi, physicist

Art and Technology—March 6, 2006

  • Jack Dollhausen, artist
  • Kate Seekings, artist
  • Trimpin, artist

Animation—April 10, 2006

  • Britta Johnson, animator
  • Roberta Browne, animator
  • Luke Allen, animator

Encounters with Death—May 8, 2006

  • Randy Engstrom, community arts organizer
  • Jacqueline Barnett, artist
  • Beth Miller Kraybill, hospice nurse
  • Deborah Nimmons, death-row attorney

Giant Puppets in London: A Close-Up Look at Royal de Luxe and the Sultan’s Elephant—July 31, 2006, at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center

  • Ellen Ziegler, artist

Peace and Justice—September 11, 2006

  • Playwright and performer Edward Mast
  • Artist Iole Alessandrini
  • Teacher and artist Mary K. McNeill
  • Banker and activist Abed Kouttainay

Confidence—November 13, 2006

  • Actor, writer, and coach Susy Schneider

Experiment—December 11, 2006

  • Paul Rucker, composer, musician, and visual artist
  • Ilya Shmulevich, bioengineer and pianist
  • John G. Cramer, physicist and novelist
  • Victor Larson, teacher and child development counselor

Independent Curators: A Look at How They Do What They Do—January 9, 2007

(a special event at Francine Seders Gallery)

  • Suzanne Beal, arts writer and curator
  • Carrie E. A. Scott, art critic, curator, and gallerist
  • Steven Michael Vroom, curator and art historian
  • Greg Lundgen, artist, curator

Money—February 12, 2007, no guests

Collaboration—March 12, 2007

  • Gabriel Stern, designer, contractor, arts activist
  • Diana Falchuk, artist
  • Christine Wallers, cross-disciplinary artist
  • Steve Peters, sound artist and composer
  • George Bullock, program manager and musician

Images—April 9, 2007

  • Robert Zverina, artist
  • Sarah Kavage, multidisciplinary artist and urban planner

Reconnecting Art and Life at Burning Man, April 16, 2007

  • Christine Kristen, aka LadyBee, then curator of art for Burning Man.

Across Generations: Surviving and Growing as an Artist—April 24, 2007 (a special event at Francine Seders Gallery)

  • Amelia Layton, artist
  • Mary Ann Peters, artist
  • Lauren Grossman, artist
  • Julia Gfrorer, artist

Food and Community—October 8, 2007

  • Writer and restaurateur Michael Hebberoy
  • Chef Matthew Dillon
  • Playwright and producer Matthew Richter
  • Anthropologist Roxanne Brame

Arts Education—November 12, 2007

  • Lauren Atkinson, artist and teacher
  • C. Davida Ingram, writer and visual artist
  • Bill Morrison, actor and teacher
  • Martha Worthley, artist and teacher

Confessions—December 10, 2007

  • Jason Puccinelli, artist
  • Jed Dunkerley, artist
  • Greg Lundgren, artist

Freedom and Democracy, December 31, 2007

(at New Year’s Resovolution – Party with a Purpose)

The Life and Death of Cultural Organizations: a Conversation with Anne Focke—February 11, 2008

Dance—March 10, 2008, featuring dancers and choreographers:

  • Crispin Spaeth
  • Vanessa DeWolf
  • Catherine Cabeen
  • Vania Bynum
  • Lara McIntosh

Clowns, Buffoons, and Talented Eccentrics: A Back Stage Conversation—April 5, 2008, at the Moisture Festival, featuring performers:

  • Tom Noddy
  • Frank Olivier
  • Hacki Ginda
  • Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey

Democracy, Part II—May 27, 2008

  • Philip Wohlstetter, writer
  • Olufemi Taíwo, professor of philosophy and global African studies, Seattle University
  • Roger Morris, writer and visiting professor at the Jackson School, U. of Washington
  • Douglas Schuler, faculty, Evening and Weekend Studies, Evergreen State College

Neighborhoods—June 28, 2008, outside the Corson Building, as part of the Georgetown Carnival, then called “Artopia.”

  • Kathy Nyland, small businesswoman and neighborhood activist
  • Holly Krejci, small businesswoman and neighborhood activist
  • Chris Brown, anthropologist and photographer

Seeing Beneath the Everyday—October 22, 2008

  • Dan Hawkins (Dg), photographer and urban explorer
  • no touching ground, artist
  • Emily Gibson, Outreach Coordinator, Wilderness Awareness School
  • Jon Gierlich, artist, designer, educator

The Future of the Future—November 11, 2008

  • Paul Loeb, writer, editor, activist, lecturer
  • Alex Steffen, writer, editor, activist, lecturer

Art and Community Engagement—January 14, 2009

  • Paige Weinheimer
  • Rahwa Habte
  • Cheryl dos Remedios
  • Barbara Luecke

Sculpture—February 19, 2009

  • Jen Graves, art critic
  • Beth Sellars, curator
  • Lauren Grossman, sculptor
  • Cris Bruch, sculptor

Solutions—March 17, 2009

  • Corey Stoerker, sustainability consultant
  • Liz Birkholz, urban planner and landscape architect
  • Dipika Kohli, graphic designer, journalist, and engineer
  • Joel Egan, architect

Looking Back, Looking Forward—April 25, 2009, co-produced by John Boylan and Philip Wohlstetter at the first Canoe Social Club

  • Mark Rudd, activist
  • Alberto Mejia II, youth organizer, hip-hop artist
  • Alex Steffen, founder of Worldchanging
  • Cary Moon, co-director, People’s Waterfront Coalition
  • Hollis Wong-Wear, hip-hop poet, performer, student, youth activist
  • Joselynn Plank, humanitarian aid worker, organizer, performer
  • Lara Davis, Arts Corps community partnerships director, teaching artist, youth activist (tentative)
  • Nick Licata, Seattle City Councilmember
  • Paul Dorpat, historian, editor of The Helix
  • Peter Knutson, fisherman, anthropologist
  • Randy Engstrom, founding director, Youngstown Cultural Arts center
  • Robby Stern, SDS leader at the UW, longtime activist and lobbyist with the Washington State Labor Council
  • Roger Lippman, peace, justice, and environmental activist
  • Toby Crittenden, organizer, Washington Bus Project

Gather, A Community Conversation and Potluck—May 2, 2009, at Kornerhaus, co-sponsored by Design Kompany

Service, a discussion with Michael Bade—June 23, 2009

Public Art—September 22, 2009

  • Barbara Goldstein, Public Art Director, City of San Jose
  • Carolyn Law, artist
  • Greg Lundgren, artist
  • Dan Webb, artist

Art and Alcohol—October 20, 2009

  • Macklemore, musician, writer
  • Diana Adams, artist and proprietor of Vermillion
  • Robert Hess, historian and practitioner of the cocktail
  • Kelly Lyles, artist
  • Tim Marsden, artist

Courage and Confidence—November 17, 2009

  • Elizabeth Rose, aerialist and dancer
  • Storme Webber, poet, performer, activist
  • Deborah Lawrence, artist and activist
  • Toby Crittenden, youth organizer

Drawing—January 9, 2010

  • Jed Dunkerley, artist, teacher, performer, provocateur
  • J.C. Schlechter, artist, teacher, curator
  • Lisa Bade, artist, teacher, and activist
  • Jon Gierlich, artist, teacher

Retreats and Residencies—March 16, 2010, featuring artists

  • Zac Culler
  • Ben Beres
  • John Sutton
  • Paul Rucker

Reimagining Cities—April 20, 2010

  • Sarah Bergmann, artist, illustrator, garden activist
  • Ray Gastil, city planner, urban designer
  • Kurt Kiefer, artist, curator, arts consultant
  • Alex Steffen, writer, editor, activist, lecturer

Art of the Idea—September 14, 2010

  • Amy O’Neal, performer, choreographer, and dance educator
  • Summer Robinson, writer and bookseller
  • Jennifer Zeyl, theatre maker, installation artist, instigator
  • Rob Zverina, artist and advocate

Making Sense of the Handbasket—October 19, 2010

  • Mott Greene, John B. Magee Professor of Science and Values, University of Puget Sound
  • Eric Steig, Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Washington
  • Ellen Sollod, environmental artist

Honor—November 16, 2010, no guests

Food, Part III—December 14, 2010

  • Sarah Kavage, artist and urban planner
  • Randy Engstrom, community organizer, activist, arts advocate
  • Kate Abarbanel, artist
  • Siri Erickson-Brown, farmer, sustainable agriculture activist

Circus! Part Three—January 5, 2011

  • Cathleen O’Malley, actor and clown
  • Elizabeth Rose, dancer and aerialist
  • Erin Brindley, director and producer
  • Terry Crane, circus artist

Style—February 15, 2011

  • Adria Garcia, artist, clothing merchant
  • Robin Held, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Collections, the Frye Art Museum
  • Laura Cassidy, Style Editor, Seattle Metropolitan magazine
  • Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Refuse Alchemist, Maker, Facilitator
  • Kelly Lyles, artist

Art Revisited—March 15, 2011, no guests

On Becoming an Artist in Strange Times—April 12, 2011 (education status as of 2011)

  • Stephen Sewell (UW PhotoMedia MFA student)
  • Rodrigo Valenzuela (UW PhotoMedia MFA student)
  • Leanne Grimes (UW painting MFA student)
  • Christopher McElroy (UW sculpture MFA student)

What’s Up in Ballard’s “Micro-‘hoods?—June 27, 2011, produced by Sustainable Ballard

  • Betsy Kluck-Keil and Roger Kluck, hosts of a monthly “Waffle Sunday” on their super-connected Ballard block (many tales to share)
  • Ron Cole of “David and Ron’s Big House,” the tricycle-clad former church at 20th NW and NW 61st (almost for sure!)
  • Mark Simpson, an architect with a passion for neighborhoods
  • Yuhani Nurmia and Peggy Cleary, who fire up their pizza oven every Saturday all summer and feed friends and neighbors

Making Sense—September 20, 2011, no guests

Imaginary Cities, Temporary Cities—October 18, 2011

  • Klara Glosova, artist, curator
  • Corey Scherrer, artist
  • Mark “Buphalo” Tomkiewicz, earned artist, environmentalist
  • Barbara Luecke, art program manager, arts organizer

In Search of the Fifth Estate—November 15, 2011, no guests

Invasion!—December 3, 2011, at Last Chance Travel, a storefront project organized by Sarah Kavage and Nicole Kistler

  • Anne Blackburn, installation artist, independent curator, and organizer
  • Deanna Pindell, sculptor

Do you love me yet?—December 8, 2011, at Velocity Dance Center, as part of the the NEXT FEST NW festival

  • Jessica Jobaris, artist
  • Mike Pham, artist
  • Koushik Ghosh, economist
  • Jess Van Nostrand, curator

Arts Education—January 17, 2012

  • Robert Eyerman, dancer and teaching artist
  • Julie Trout, teacher and artist
  • Lara Davis, musician, teacher, and activist

You—February 21, 2011, no guests

Fabric—March 20, 2012

  • Anna Rose Telcs, artist and designer
  • Lou Cabeen, artist and teacher
  • Cameron Anne Mason, artist and teacher
  • Luke Haynes, artist

Curators in Transition—April 17, 2012

  • Elizabeth Brown, curator and writer
  • Robin Held, curator and writer
  • Jake Seniuk, curator and artist

Curators, Part II: DIY—May 15, 2012

  • Anne Blackburn, artist, organizer, and agitator (and curator?)
  • Sharon Arnold, artist and curator
  • Klara Glosova, artist and curator
  • Tessa Hulls, artist and curator
  • Sierra Stinson, artist and curator
  • Serrah Russell, artist and curator
  • Jess VanNostrand, curator
  • Amanda Manitech, artist and curator
  • Ben Beres, artist and curator
  • Sally Schuh, artist and curator

Making Theater—September 17, 2012

  • Jennifer Zeyl, scenic and costume designer
  • Matt Starritt, sound designer and writer
  • Valerie Curtis-Newton, director and university professor
  • Sheila Daniels, director, choreographer, writer, educator, actor, and producer
  • Curtis Taylor, writer and director

Damn! I love this town…—October 23, 2012

  • Randy Engstrom, organizer and advocate
  • Anne Focke, writer, advisor, initiator
  • C Davida Ingram, cultural producer
  • Charles Tonderai Mudede, writer, filmmaker

Politics: What Do We Do Next—November 13, 2012, no guests, a free-form conversation

The Art of Intoxication—December 18, 2012

  • Chocolatier Joanna Lepore
  • Perfumer Christi Meshell
  • Poet and Wine Merchant Doug Nufer
  • Distiller Steven Stone

Conversation!—February 19, 2013

  • Guest host: Randy Engstrom
  • Guest: John Boylan, writer, raconteur, provocateur

Inclusion/Exclusion—March 19, 2013, no guests, a free-form conversation

Trash!—April 16, 2013

  • Robin Worley, artist, designer, activist
  • Julia Hensley, artist, teacher
  • Karen Hackenberg, artist

3 Responses to “A Brief History of the Conversations”


  1. [...] A history of the conversations is available at http://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/a-brief-history-of-the-conversations/ [...]

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