John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Art and Technology”

Event Date: Tuesday, February 17, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Admission is free. Tell your friends.

Location: Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle

To link to this announcement, do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

The Summary

This time we’re revisiting the worlds of art and technology. Read on for details.

The Guests (see bios below)

Jason Salavon, artist and educator

Genevieve Tremblay, artist, designer, educator, scholar, and cultural entrepreneur

Michael Cohen, researcher, Microsoft Corporation

Robin Oppenheimer, media arts historian, curator, and scholar

Thomas Deuel, neuroscientist, sound artist, and neurologist

The Story

I’ve been thinking about technology a lot lately, especially the creative use of new technologies. We’ve been going through huge shifts in how new computer technologies drive our lives. From the diagnostic tools that a doctor—or a mechanic—uses to the super brains that we carry around in our pockets, our everyday lives are filled with what would have seemed to be magic just a few decades ago. And the “we” in these sentences is no longer quite the elite that it once was. Cheap smart phones are at the least making inroads into the digital divide across the world.

For years, in the world of art high tech has been something of a poor sister. With major exceptions, of course, too much tech-based art has been overwhelmed by how cool a specific technology is, or underwhelmed by how inadequate a specific technology is for, say, presenting a subtle, complex, and powerful image.

That’s changing, I think, especially as we are seeing huge advances in what new technologies can do, and seeing artists who can get beyond a specific technology’s “wow” factor. And given the extent to which technology is integrating into our lives, we need to see more and better examinations of those integrations.

That’s happening. The ongoing marriage of art and technology is in the air. As I write this, the Seattle branch of Pecha Kucha just staged a set of presentations entitled Technology + Art: Bridges and Throughways. I was one of the guests; it was a rousing set of presentations by an assortment of artists, teachers, and thinkers. Meanwhile, in December the Stranger ran a piece by Jen Graves, What Only Artists Can Teach Us About Technology, Data, and Surveillance. It’s a long, detailed look at the work happening at the University of Washington’s emerging-technology department, DXArts, and the visiting artist program at Microsoft Research.

Ultimately, art is technology. Attempting to master art is attempting to master a technology, whether it’s painting with oils, bronze casting, or photography. But it’s also stretching that technology, learning to make it do strange and unimaginable things. Where do the new technologies, driven by the semiconductor and the integrated circuit, fit into that continuum? Do they represent a break from cutting stone or casting bronze, or are they just a new stage in a continuum? And are there differences between “art and technology” and “art and science?”

Looking back, technology is often a topic in this series, but we have not specifically addressed the pairing of art and tech since 2006. It’s about time for a revisit. The guests then were Kate Seekings, Trimpin, and Jack Dollhausen. Seekings was at Microsoft at the time; Trimpin and Dollhausen are both well-respected figures in the world of art and technology in the Pacific Northwest; both have traditionally worked primarily with electronics and older analog technologies. In their work, any digital elements happen at the fundamental levels of machine code.

This time, our guests work more at the intersections of art and the newest technologies. Several trained as both artists and scientists/technologists and combine traditional technologies with the leading edges of new technologies. This is a brilliant group of people.

Come and talk with them.

My Links

Essays and Comment

Conversations

JBoylan Projects

The Guests in Detail

Michael F. Cohen is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research. He joined Microsoft in 1994 from Princeton University, where he served on the faculty of Computer Science. Michael received The 1998 SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award for his contributions to the Radiosity method for image synthesis. Dr. Cohen also served as paper’s chair for SIGGRAPH ’98.

Michael received his Ph.D. in 1992 from the University of Utah. He also holds undergraduate degrees in Art and Civil Engineering from Beloit College and Rutgers University respectively, and an M.S. in Computer Graphics from Cornell. Dr. Cohen also served on the Architecture faculty at Cornell University, and is currently an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington.

His early work at Cornell and Princeton on the radiosity method for realistic image synthesis is discussed in his book “Radiosity and Image Synthesis” (co-authored by John R. Wallace). His work at the University of Utah focused on spacetime control for linked figure animation.

At Microsoft, Dr. Cohen has worked on a number of projects ranging from image based rendering, to animation, to camera control, to more artistic non-photorealistic rendering. One project focuses capturing the complete flow of light from an object for later rendering from arbitrary vantage points. This work, dubbed The Lumigraph, is analogous to creating a digital hologram. Michael also has continued his work on linked figure animation, focusing on means to allow simulated creatures to portray their emotional state. Recent work has focused on computational photography applications. These have ranged from creating new methods for low bandwidth teleconferencing, segmentation and matting of images and video, technologies for combining a set of “image stacks” as a Photomontage , to the creation of very high resolution panoramas, such as the GigapixelArtZoom.

Robin Oppenheimer is an internationally recognized media arts historian, curator and scholar who has worked in the field since 1980. She was Executive Director of two media arts centers in Atlanta and Seattle and is currently a Lecturer at the University of Washington Bothell and adjunct faculty at Cornish College, with a PhD in Interactive Arts and Technology. Her areas of research include media arts histories, participatory media, and media activism.

Jason Salavon (salavon.com) is currently a visiting artist at Microsoft Research.

Using software processes of his own design, he generates and reconfigures masses of communal material to present new perspectives on the familiar. Though formally varied, his projects frequently manipulate the roles of individual elements arranged in diverse visual populations. This often unearths unexpected patterns as the relationship between the part and the whole, the individual and the group, is explored. Reflecting a natural attraction to popular culture and the day-to-day, his work regularly incorporates the use of common references and source material. The final compositions are exhibited as art objects, such as photographic prints and video installations, while others exist in a real-time software context.

Born in Indiana (1970), raised in Texas, and based in Chicago, Salavon earned his MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his BA from The University of Texas at Austin. His work has been shown in museums and galleries around the world. Reviews of his exhibitions have been included in such publications as Artforum, Art in America, The New York Times, and WIRED. Examples of his artwork are included in prominent public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago among many others.

Previously, he taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was employed for numerous years as an artist and programmer in the video game industry. He is currently associate professor in the Department of Visual Arts and the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago.

Genevieve Tremblay is an artist, designer, educator, public scholar, and cultural entrepreneur. She conceptualizes and facilitates pioneering initiatives at the convergence of arts & culture, science, education and technology. Since 2000, she has created collaborations with innovators across disciplines that ignite new thinking and apply emerging technologies to civic and community challenges. Building bridges between interdisciplinary realms is her specialty.

Her professional work includes award-winning design and art direction, as well as her generative work as artist and independent curator. She teaches in the Art, Design, Film and Media Department at Cornish College of the Arts. Genevieve has received more than thirty local and national grants for school-based programs integrating art and technology in the Seattle and Bellevue School Districts. Her research, curatorial and public scholarship initiatives have been funded by 4Culture, Bellevue Schools Foundation, SAPPI Ideas that Matter: Design for the Public Good, AIGA, The National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller, Benton and Ford Foundations. Genevieve received her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University.

Thomas Deuel is a neuroscientist, sound artist, and neurologist. He is currently a neurologist at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute and an Affiliate Professor at Digital and Experimental Arts (DXArts), University of Washington.

His Deueling Thumbs StudioLab is a hybrid between scientific laboratory and art studio dedicated to audio and music-based art and neuroscience research. It is a workspace for combining Neuroscience, Sound Art, Neurophysiology, and Music Composition to create original works of audio installation art and interactive new media music and sound.

John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Pop Surrealism and Lowbrow Art”

Event Date: Tuesday, January 20, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Admission is free. Tell your friends.

Location: Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle

To link to this announcement, do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

The Summary

This time we’re tackling two highly energetic and powerful worlds of art: pop surrealism and lowbrow art. And as guests we have two legendary players on the Seattle scene. Read on for details.

The Guests (see bios below.)

Kirsten Anderson, owner and founder, Roq la Rue Gallery

Larry Reid, curator and events coordinator, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery

The Story

We’re looking at two art movements that have long been intertwined: pop surrealism and lowbrow art. Both share a deep humor and irreverence, along with a passion for stretching the limits of illustration—and representation in general—to places where the conventions of such drawing and painting don’t generally go. But if both share a sensibility, they also diverge deeply.

I won’t recount the history of lowbrow, as in the early days of Robert Williams, the horizon-bending work of underground comix, and the hot rod art of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Wikipedia provides a basic intro. Suffice it to say that lowbrow begins as an amalgam of comics, album covers, tattoos, California car and surf cultures, and film noir. But it has always stretched these modes, reinventing them, taking them new places. One good way to get a sense of vividness of lowbrow is to look at the work of Robert Williams.

One of the fascinating things about lowbrow is its deep relationship with many other trends in the past fifty years, including punk rock, Chicano art, street art, graffiti. And the attendant cultures are cultures of immersion, for both artists and the audiences: tattooing, cars, comics.

Pop surrealism shares a lot with lowbrow, but has its own vocabulary, its own style. As the name suggests, it builds on the mystery and strange juxtapositions of surrealism, filtered through modes of pop culture, especially commercial illustration. Pop surrealism is about fantasy, but not the fantasy of sword and sorcery and dragons. Rather, here is the fantasy of the irrational, of dreams, of playful weirdness, carefully and often darkly rendered.

Maybe the best way to get a sense of pop surrealism is to take a look at, say, the work Femke Hiemstra or Peter Ferguson or Mark Ryden. The differences from Robert Williams are evident, but there are odd commonalities as well.

We have only two guests this time, and that’s intentional. Between them, Larry Reid and Kirsten Anderson have both played impressive roles in the culture of Seattle. Reid has long been a curator, writer, advocate, and instigator in Seattle, goes back to co-founding the famous Rosco Louis Gallery in the 1970s and the wild days of CoCA in the 1980s. Anderson founded Roq la Rue 16 years ago, focusing on pop surrealism and later broadening to cover a range of contemporary art. In those years, she has been a prominent writer, publisher, and curator in the field.

Come and join the conversation. This should be most excellent.

My Links

Essays and Comment

Conversations

JBoylan Projects

The Guests in Detail

Kirsten Anderson opened Roq la Rue Gallery in 1998 after curating several highly successful group art shows in various locations in Seattle. In addition to curating and running the gallery, she edited and co-published the landmark book Pop Surrealism: The Rise of Underground Art, which was the first survey of the art movement, in 2004.

She served as the “Editor At Large” at Hi Fructose Art magazine for seven years (until stepping down to focus on other projects in 2014), where she wrote about art and artists integral to the Pop Surrealism/New Contemporary scene as well as major players in the international contemporary art world. She occasionally writes for other publications about art and lectures about the history and current state of Pop Surrealism/New Contemporary and the artists affiliated with the genre. She is regarded as an authority on the main tenets and history of the genre, as well as having a discerning eye for discovering new talent.

Larry Reid has been an advocate for challenging visual and performing arts in the Pacific Northwest and beyond since co-founding Rosco Louie gallery in Seattle’s Pioneer Square in 1978. He has since served as director of Graven Image gallery and the Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA), and as curator for Experience Music Project (EMP) and Fantagraphics Books.

Over the course of his career he has presented the work of countless regional, national and international artists including Lynda Barry, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Nirvana, William S. Burroughs, Robert Crumb, Lydia Lunch, Ann Magnuson, Chuck Close, Keith Haring, Sonic Youth, Mike Kelley, Karen Finley, Eric Bogosian, Charles Peterson, Einsturzende Neubauten, Von Dutch, Henry Rollins, Daniel Clowes, Gary Panter, Mudhoney, and many more. He has served as a peer panelist for various private foundations and public agencies including the National Endowment for the Arts (1990). He has contributed to several books including Pop Surrealism: The Rise of Underground Art, Edward Colver: Blight at the End of the Funnel, Tiki Art Now!, Jini Dellaccio: Rock & Roll, and Sub Pop USA: 1980 – 1987.

Reid currently works as curator and events coordinator at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle’s historic Georgetown arts community, where he also serves as president of the Georgetown Merchants Association (GMA) and co-chairs the Greater Duwamish District Council (GDDC).

John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Startup Culture”

Event Date: Tuesday, December 16, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Admission is free. Tell your friends.

Location: Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle

To link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

Important Announcement: In the past, those sitting at the edges of the room at Vermillion may have had trouble hearing because of a big, noisy, walk-in cooler that would go into grinding mode every now and again. That cooler is dead and gone, replaced by a very quiet refrigerator. Vermillion is a lot quieter.

Note on the Film! conversation: A good number of movies were referenced during last month’s conversation. I’ve listed some of them at the end of this message.

The Summary

This month we’re talking startups and the whirl of ideas, dreams, discoveries, and even art that surrounds them. Read on for details.

The Guests (see bios below.)

Susie Lee, artist, entrepreneur, CEO of Siren

Brett Greene, marketer, blogger, and co-founder of New Tech Seattle

Red Russak, startup enthusiast and co-founder of New Tech Seattle

Rebecca Lovell, startup advocate, mentor

The Story

For most of us, the world of startups hovers just outside of view, something that happens in the background, especially if we’re not intrepid entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

For me, after 15 years of web publishing at Microsoft, I left the company a few months ago. Since then, I’ve been doing some freelance work and figuring out what comes next.

So recently I went to New Tech Seattle, a monthly tech startup meetup organized by two of our guests, Red Russak and Brett Greene. Each event has two parts, a social hour and a presentation. In the presentation section, very smart people do quick talks about their startup. The social hour is a high-energy gathering filled with some people looking for work or startup funding, others looking to hire expertise and talent, still others trying to break in with what they hope is a killer idea, and a surprising number of saintly folks who are just there to help, to mentor.

It’s a little like a singles bar, but rather than looking for that perfect someone, people here are looking for a future. I’ve heard the question as to why the art world doesn’t have something similar, but I think it may, at art openings or before the doors open at On the Boards performances: “Hey, I want you to meet someone….” What I find fascinating is the huge amount of imagination and creativity that go into the startup business plans and marketing efforts. You can see some of the top startups at the Geekwire 200.

Writing in his blog in September, MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito described the “Blade Runner meets Wild West” hardware startup culture in Shenzen, China. It’s a wild, crowded, dynamic scene of DIY innovation. Something like that would never happen in Seattle. Or would it? And would we want it?

I’ve spoken to a number of people involved with startups. Some are amazingly brilliant and dynamic and are quite adept at finding—or creating—a niche to fill. Others remind me of the hapless proprietor of the Scotch Boutique, an old and classic Saturday Night Life sketch about a mall store that sells only Scotch tape. (I tried to find the clip, but could only find the script for the sequence. It is painfully funny.)

That sense of “are you sure this is a good idea?” isn’t limited to the tiny, just-out-of-the-gate companies. The political site Talking Points Memo recently featured this in-depth analysis of the economics of Uber. It is long, but definitely worth a read. The writer looks at niche markets, economics of scale, and the deep differences between Uber and, say, Amazon and Ebay, and makes a case for the idea that Uber may only be able to grow as long as the public and its competitors are convinced of its invincibility. Without that…?

We’ve put together a great group: Greene and Russak, along with the City of Seattle’s startup advocate Rebecca Lovell, and artist Susie Lee, who among many other things has done a lot to create a discussion of startups with her women-centric dating app, Siren.

We have lot to talk about. Do come.

My Links

Essays and Comment

Conversations

JBoylan Projects

The Guests in Detail

Susie Lee is a visual artist and CEO of Siren. Her work explores intimacy and connection through technology, fluidly embedding new media across many platforms. Recognized as Emerging Artist of the Year for the “intelligence, emotion and sensuality” of her work, Lee was also named “Artist to Watch” by ARTnews. Her work has been exhibited and commissioned in the US and abroad, in such venues as the Mitchell Center for the Arts, Denver Art Museum, Frye Art Museum, Blanton Museum, and Crystal Bridges Museum of Art and is included in notable public collections. A graduate of Yale, Columbia and UW with degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, science education, and fine arts, Lee launched Siren in Seattle recently to connect people creatively and safely. Siren has gained significant momentum in the public imagination and press, with over 100 media links, including the front page of the Seattle Times, CNN, Cosmopolitan, King5, KOMO, Geekwire, The Stranger, Engadget, The Washington Post, and ThinkProgress. Siren will be launched nationally soon.

Rebecca Lovell is the City of Seattle’s Startup Advocate, working to connect startups to resources, expand opportunities in entrepreneurship , and measure and promote our success. She also serves as a mentor for Techstars, 9 Mile Labs, and Founder Institute, and is an instructor on venture capital investing in the UW Foster MBA Program. She is on the advisory board of Reveal as well as the UW Foster Employer Advisory board, and has coached, screened and mentored hundreds of startups in Seattle. Prior roles include Program Director, Alliance of Angels, Executive Director, Northwest Entrepreneur Network, Chief Business Officer, GeekWire and interim CEO for Vittana. She brings 20 years of operating and management experience to her leadership roles in both for-profit and non-profit sectors. Recognized as of the top 100 women in Tech from the Puget Sound Business Journal, and Tech Flash’s “Do Gooder of the Year,” she is endlessly devoted to entrepreneurship and karaoke.

Brett Greene believes in connecting people, companies and communities to drive innovation and opportunity for others. What matters most is knowing what you want to do, who you want to do it with, and making great things happen daily. Brett believes in surrounding yourself with people who inspire you, helping those who are hungry for inspiration, and taking care of people and the planet while being successful, making profits, and giving back every day.

Brett has been engaged in community building, marketing strategy and execution, brand development, lead generation, mentoring, and digital communication services for 20+ years. He helps companies define their passions, purpose, and goals to genuinely move their needles.

Brett has created premium consumer experiences to build the digital presence of brands ranging from startups and the City of Los Angeles to Fortune 500 companies. His marketing strategies have achieved business objectives in industries including technology, ecommerce, mobile & cloud-based applications, food & beverage, events, entertainment & government.

He has worked with the investors & founders of Docstoc, Klout & hundreds of startups and mentored Techstars, Founder Institute, Startup Weekend NEXT, and LOHAS companies. He is also Co-Founder of New Tech Seattle and New Tech Eastside where 10 early to late stage companies present to 700+ attendees monthly.

Brett has appeared on NBC Television as a social media expert and blogs at Huffington Post, Social Media Today, All Things WOMM (WOMMA), and Blind Influence. He has spoken nationally for organizations including Blog World, Puget Sound Business Journal, PodCamp, LOHAS Forum, Davinci Institute, Colorado University, & Denver University’s MBA Program.

Red Russak is a startup enthusiast and accomplished sales professional focused on B2B mobile SaaS offerings for global SMBs, Enterprises and F500. One writer described him this way:

“Red Russak is the Sultan of Startups. In the Seattle startup scene, Red Russak is a force to be reckoned with. By day, he heads up business development for Seattle startup Apptentive, but in the evenings he’s a champion for the hundreds of other startups residing within the city limits. […] Through several years of hard work, Red has built a solid community of folks who respect and support each other, even when their ideas and concepts may compete.”

From the Film! Conversation (a partial list)

Surviving Cliffside (US, 2014)

Fandry (India, 2013)

Enough Said (US, 2013)

Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (Australia, 1988)

Stations of the Elevated (US, 1981)

To Sleep with Anger (US, 1990)

Killer of Sheep (US, 1977)

John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Film!”

Event Date: Tuesday, November 18, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Admission is free. Tell your friends.

Location: Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle

To link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

Very Important Announcement: In the past, those sitting at the edges of the room at Vermillion may have had trouble hearing because of a big, noisy, walk-in cooler that would go into grinding mode every now and again. News flash: that cooler is dead and gone, replaced by a very quiet refrigerator. Vermillion is a lot quieter.

The Summary

This month we’re talking about film, about movies, as art, entertainment, business, passion. Read on for details.

The Guests (See bios below.)

Daniel Thornton, filmmaker, educator

Courtney Sheehan, program director, Northwest Film Forum

Charles Mudede, writer, filmmaker

Warren Etheridge, interviewer, educator, writer, and producer.

The Story

Longtime followers of this series know that on occasion we do a conversation about a genre. Dance, sculpture, painting, theater, performance, and public art have all been topics. This month we’re looking at film. We’re making the topic intentionally broad; as much as we want deep conversation, we’re also hoping for something that is wide ranging.

I’m expecting that the discussion may range through film as art, as something beautiful or intentionally ugly. Or film as business, as a huge collaborative venture to make a lot of money, or none at all. There’s the deep history of writing and talking about film. And the politics of film, both in the making and ramifications of the content; the pleasures of both creating and viewing film; the history and future of film; and more. Through all of it runs a passion that pervades the whole endeavor: an extra may feel as proud of being in a film as a starring actor.

I also know that the term “film” is a little dated; for every foot of legacy celluloid is 10,000 feet of videotape or billions of bits of MPEG files. But it does capture and cover what we’re talking about, and that’s another great topic for conversation. If the medium is the message, what’s the medium?

Film can suck us in, like the opening shot of Play It Again, Sam, with the camera panning around to show Woody Allen completely, overwhelmingly transfixed by the final scene of Casablanca. Or it can keep us at an uneasy distance, like a documentary about impossible violence.

There will be lots to talk about. Do come.

My Links

Note: I’ve been publishing a series of essays. The latest is Unschooling, Big History, and Adventure in an American Classroom. Check it out and let me know what you think.

The Guests in Detail

Daniel Thornton is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and educator based in Seattle. Community focused, Dan’s work highlights the stories that enlighten, educate, and bind people together. He is currently working on a series of short documentaries in partnership with a state-wide public interest law firm and a broadcast documentary about visually impaired landscape painter Keith Salmon in Scotland.

Dan is particular proud of his association with community based arts organizations like the Northwest Film Forum.

Courtney Sheehan is program director for Northwest Film Forum. She has curated film programs and produced events for film festivals, media centers and theaters on three continents. As a journalist, she has covered film events ranging from the world’s largest documentary festival to South America’s largest animation festival, and her publications include Senses of Cinema, The Independent, Bitch Magazine, and NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies.

Charles Tonderai Mudede—who writes about film, books, music, Marxist urbanism, and his life in Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, the USA, and the UK for The Stranger—was born near a steel plant in Qwe Qwe, Rhodesia (now Kwe Kwe, Zimbabwe). He has no memory of this birth, but he does remember noticing himself in the mirror for this first time—it happened on May 3, 1972. Mudede is also a filmmaker: Two of his films, Police Beat and Zoo, premiered at Sundance, and Zoo was screened at Cannes. Mudede has written for the New York Times, Cinema Scope, Ars Electronica, C Theory, and academic journals. He also wrote the liner notes for Best of Del Tha Funkee Homosapien: Elektra Years. Mudede has lived in Seattle since 1989.

Warren Etheredge didn’t speak until he was 6 years old; he’s been going strong ever since, making a lively livelihood and the most out of every conversation, elevating small talk to high art, discourse to an ideal. He talks. He teaches. He finds stories.

Warren is one of the founding faculty of TheFilmSchool, helping filmmakers translate their stories for screens big and small, and The Red Badge Project, helping combat veterans work through PTSD and other issues by teaching them the art of storytelling.  He has conducted over 3,000 interviews; on the page, on stage, and on screen. He hosts The High Bar, his Emmy-nominated television series devoted to “raising the bar” through light-hearted conversation with people who care about culture that matters. He also hosts Reel NW, a showcase for the finest features, shorts and documentaries generated in the Pacific Northwest.

He is the founder of The Warren Report and the Editor-at-Large for Media Inc. (www.media-inc.com).  As a producer, his credits include FUREVER (d. Amy Finkel); HUMOR ME (d. Chris Towey), EVERY BEAUTIFUL THING (d. Sonya Lea), THE LOST MARINER (d. Tess Martin) and WAYSIDE JUNCTION (d. April Larson).

Warren is the former Curator for the 1 Reel Film Festival (at Bumbershoot) and a programmer for The Seattle International Film Festival. He is a published author, an Off-Broadway produced playwright, an acclaimed documentarian, a regular contributor to public radio and a much sought-after public speaker on myriad topics.  Born and raised in Manhattan, Warren makes his home in Seattle along with his partner, Nancy, their three children, an adoring pit bull, and an irascible bunny rabbit.

Next Up

On December 16, we’ll be discussing Startup Culture. Guests will be artist and Siren creator Susie Lee; Brett Greene and Red Russak, who as organizers of New Tech Seattle (among many other things) are at the core of Seattle’s startup scene; and Rebecca Lovell, Startup Advocate for the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development.

More details to follow.

John Boylan’s Next Conversation: Beauty

Event Date: Tuesday, October 14, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

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

The Summary

This time we’re looking at beauty, how it is constructed, and how redefinitions of that construction can be liberating and empowering.

Read on for the details.

The Guests (see bios below)

Kirin Bhatti

Meng Yu

Another visual artist, in the works

An aesthetician or a critic, in the works

The Story

We live in a culture where the pressure toward a narrow standard of beauty is nearly overwhelming. That conservative, conventional, constraining sense of what is beautiful is everywhere, in mass media, in our often unspoken sense of landscape and architecture, in the conventions of fashion, in the simple aesthetics that drive our everyday assumptions.

Body shapes are constrained within a norm, especially for women, while symmetry and confident grace in movement are basic metrics for success. In the popular images, even supposed ugliness is depicted as conventionally pretty, especially in content for children. One of countless examples is Beauty and the Beast. The whole point of the original story is that Beast is hideous, an outcast in love with Belle, the Beauty. But the Disney Beast is drawn as a handsome, if hairy, avuncular figure. Even in the classic 1980s television version, one of George R. R. Martin’s early projects, the Beast is a young Ron Perlman in gorgeous lion makeup. Do we have the capacity to see a conventionally hideous figure as sympathetic, beautiful, and even romantic?

Certainly, some sense of normative beauty is physiological: sounds that are more harmonious than others, colors and shapes that are naturally more pleasing. But most of what we encounter is more complex than that, and much of what we take from that complexity is constructed as part of the culture that surrounds us.

This month’s topic comes in part out of conversations with two of the guests, Kirin Bhatti and Meng Yu. Both combine a passion for social justice with a love of style, and both are moving forward on the idea that individual style can be a tool for individual empowerment. At the root of that movement is the idea that we as a society can redefine conventional, mainstream ideas of what is beautiful, even while the immersive miasma of mass media drives us to not do so.

Art does a lot toward stretching and twisting a sense of what is beautiful, and has been doing so at least since the birth of modernism, and in some cases long before that, as in Brueghel’s Triumph of Death and Goya’s Caprichos and Disasters of War. And the story of the outcast who is deemed as less than beautiful has long been a fundamental narrative; Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac comes to mind. Art can hew to convention as much as mass media, but it can also strive to force us to engage in something that is conventionally unattractive, to the point where we end up wanting to make an engagement. But can art have a mass effect in a broad-based reconsideration of beauty?

Come and have a conversation about beauty and about the potential of that engagement. I’ve been away, and I’m a little behind the curve in getting the guests together. I’m hoping to add a visual artist and an expert on aesthetics, or possibly a critic. Stay tuned.

The Guests in Detail

MissTANGQ (Meng Yu) is a multi-media synesthetic artist and first-generation mystic-nerd. She is deeply inspired by the hyphenated experience and explores this through visual art, installation, fashion and DJing to create cross-sensory and multi-disciplinary work. She is a traveler in the margins and crossroads of both identity and the terrestrial and astral experience. She believes in the fertile power of these places to remix our perceptions of and connection to the world. As a facilitator and educator she spent the last 5 years working as the Director of Youth Engagement of an arts-based food justice youth organization. She now continues to do empowerment work as a image consultant through her styling company QYRON. She loves to sing on her bike and plot what she’s going to eat next. Dancing is one of her favorite forms of space travel.

Kirin Bhatti writes: I like to have fun while doing good and looking good at the same time. Growing up in a big Punjabi family I had to be loud, experimental, and creative to get anything done—or maybe that’s just me? Whether it’s nature or nurture that made me who I am, I am addicted to making the impossible possible, all while having a great time—especially for the underdog. I spent seven years in education with the task of creating innovative programs that raise children into whole beings. I also learned how to farm for a whole year. Growing a one-pound heirloom tomato from a near weightless seed teaches you a lot about how to make things happen. My mission now is to use my business QYRON styling to help people feel really awesome about themselves inside and out. I have a blast with my other company Purna Playground helping socially conscious ideas stand out through creative marketing and strategy. All this action is made possible by ample time hanging out alone in my studio daydreaming, being lazy, and having epic hangouts with my dear friends and family. Whatever I’m doing it’s all the same to me, different iterations of myself serving the same goal—to be of service making the impossible possible.

Coming Up

Tuesday, November 18: Film

Tuesday, December 16: Startup Culture

John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Performance”

Event Date: Tuesday, April 8, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

 

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

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

 

(Note: this conversation series most often takes place on the third Thursday of each month. For April we’ve moved up one week as a scheduling accommodation.)

 

The Summary

This time we’re looking at the idea of performance: that edge between dance, theater, music, spoken word, an edge that may be all of these things and simultaneously none of them.

Read on for the details.

 

The Guests (see bios below)

Lane Czaplinski, Artistic Director of On the Boards

Joshua Kohl, co-artistic director, Degenerate Art Ensemble

Haruko Nishimura, co-artistic director, Degenerate Art Ensemble

Jennifer Zeyl, theater maker (tentative)

Vanessa DeWolf, improviser, writer, and performance artist

Paige Barnes, choreographer, movement artist

 

The Story

I’ve been wanting to do a conversation on performance for some time, following on the subset of these conversations that have looked at genres: painting, sculpture, dance, theater, drawing.

What performance is, exactly, can be a difficult question. Maybe at this conversation, we’ll be able to tie it down, get a specific sense as to what it is. Or maybe not. So many questions: Where does it come from? How is it not dance or theater? We can track it back to Fluxus, and possibly well beyond that to Dada and the Constructivists. Or is Laurie Anderson right when she calls Jack Smith, a camp filmmaker in the 1960s, “the godfather of performance art?”

What does seem true is that performance plays a significant role in the cultural life of this city, whether in the long-running success of On the Boards, in genre-stretching efforts in Seattle’s dance venues, in unsung experiments in local theater that only a handful may end up seeing.

We’ve assembled a sterling crew of guests, a little larger number than usual. I wanted to assemble voices from a variety of vantage points: Lane Czaplinski from the city’s performance core, Jennifer Zeyl from theater, Joshua Kohl and Haruko Nishimura for their work across genres and a fascination with the interplay between music and dance and the street, Paige Barnes through the work she did last year on that dance/performance edge in NAKED, and Vanessa deWolf because of her major contribution to the city, as both a performer and as an arts producer, supporter, facilitator.

Come. This will be a truly delightful conversation.

 

The Guests in Detail

Lane Czaplinski is the Artistic Director of On the Boards—one of the leading centers for contemporary performance in the Western United States. In 2013, On the Boards received the William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters for sustained achievement in programming. In January 2010, Czaplinski helped launch OntheBoards.tv, an online, pay-per-view platform for contemporary performance videos. Prior to moving to Seattle in 2002, Czaplinski worked as the Program Manager at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Czaplinski has worked with many organizations as a panelist/advisor including the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Japan Foundation, National Performance Network, Creative Capital, Herb Alpert Foundation, Australia Council for the Arts, Pew Charitable Trusts, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, USArtists, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and MAP Fund.

 

Jennifer Zeyl (Set Designer) is a Seattle-based theatre-maker. Local designs include: Bonita, I am my Own Wife, Of Mice and Men, boom. and My Name is Rachel Corrie (Seattle Rep); Middletown, The Seagull Project, The Mojo & the Sayso and The Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in their New World (ACT); Adding Machine, The Trial (New Century Theatre Company); Art Dog, Jackie and Me, I Was a Rat, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie and The Big Friendly Giant (Seattle Childrens Theatre) Trouble in Mind, We Won’t Pay!, Stu for Silverton, Lysistrata, Hedda Gabler, Dirty Story, Miracle! Romeo & Juliet and Heartbreak House (Intiman); Antony & Cleopatra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Winter’s Tale, Merchant of Venice and Hamlet (Seattle Shakespeare); and Trails (Village Theatre). Look for her work on Angels in America this summer at Intiman.

A Founding Co-Artistic Director of Washington Ensemble Theatre (2004-2008), Jennifer designed 17 of WET’s first shows at the Little Theatre and directed blahblahblahBANG! (A Pistolfit in One Act) for WET at On the Boards (2007). Jennifer is a Stranger Genius Award recipient in Theatre, a Gregory Falls Best Scenic Designer and the grateful recipient of funding for her generative work from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, Artist Trust, 4Culture, The National Endowment for the Arts and private patronage. Jennifer is also is the proud proprietress of Canoe Social Club, a salon for civic-minded artists. http://www.canoesocialclub.com. Images at www.jenniferzeyl.com

 

Vanessa DeWolf is an improviser, writer, and performance artist. For nearly the last decade Vanessa has run Studio Current; a space that supports artists in their process and practice through residency in community. Each “Season” she supports 16-26 artists with space and community. She is committed to artists working together to fight the usual isolation of the creative process. PROJECT: Space Available, which she co-curated with Mônica Mata Gillam, was a performance-installation residency program that supported 35 artists over 4 years, each artist having a residency of 1-2months. She has also been seen as a performer throughout Seattle since 1992. Most recently she has been working in large unrehearsed ensemble improvisations including: “Score For an Unrehearsed Ensemble” (2012 at On the Boards) and “FORESTFLOOR is low growling in the girls bedroom” (2014 at the Good Shepherd Center). She creates solo works, ensemble works, written works and movement. She is a post-disciplinary artist whose performances grapple with the spontaneous and ephemeral in paradox with the making of objects or the residue of performance. She works with people because she is committed to autonomous and rigorous creativity.

 

Paige Barnes is a Seattle-based contemporary choreographer, movement artist and GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® instructor. She co-founded Open Flight Studio (2002-present), Locate Performance Group (1998-2004), and PB_TMOG (2008-2012). She was also the co-creative director and co-curator of the quarterly dance and music improvisation-based series HERE/NOW (2009-2012). Since 1996, Barnes has choreographed and performed in projects internationally in Ecuador, Mexico, and Cuba, and nationally in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and extensively throughout Seattle. In her most recent project, she collaborated with seven musicians during a two-month residency culminating in NAKED a performance installation at Project: Space Available. She has received awards from The Bossak/Heilbron Charitable Foundation, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Artist Trust, danceWEB (Vienna, Austria), WA State Arts Commission and Pacific Northwest Dance Lab. Significant mentors are Pablo Cornejo, Vanessa DeWolf, Magali Messac, Michele Miller, KT Niehoff and Stephanie Skura. She holds a BA in Dance from the University of Washington. Currently she attends Bastyr University studying acupuncture and oriental medicine. To see her work visit: www.paigebarnes.in

 

Haruko Nishimura has artistic-directed Seattle’s Degenerate Art Ensemble along with music director Joshua Kohl since its formation in 1999, which is her primary creative outlet. The company creates performance work infused with the energy of live music and driven by her own style of visceral movement theater and dance. The group’s work has been featured in 10 countries presenting large scale experimental dance and theater projects, concerts, site-transforming spectacles and ongoing public experimentation. The group was the subject of a major exhibition at the Frye Art Museum in 2011, was commissioned by director Robert Wilson to interpret his work Einstein on the Beach and undertook a massive site-specific collaboration with Olson Kundig Architects in 2012 and a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet in 2013. DAE directors Nishimura and Kohl have been selected to be featured in the Museum of History and Industry’s Center for Innovation in a video featuring 12 Northwest innovators including Jeff Bezos, Dale Chihuly and others. In addition to her work with DAE, Haruko is constantly collaborating with both local and international artists to push the boundaries of her medium dancing in the street, creating rituals for strangers in cemeteries and performing and directing small experimental ensembles.

 

Joshua Kohl is co-founder, conductor, composer and co-artistic director of the Seattle based multi-art group Degenerate Art Ensemble (DAE). Under his co-direction, DAE has become a leading entity on the cutting edge of contemporary art in our region as well as an expanding presence internationally. His work with Degenerate Art Ensemble is an intensely collaborative work that sees no boundaries between the visual and performing arts. The work is presented in major dance and music venues as well as shown in galleries, and most recently exhibited in a large scale Museum exhibition at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum. Along with DAE, he has been invited by legendary theater Director Robert Wilson to create an interpretation of his and Phillip Glass’ epic work Einstein On The Beach in which DAE will work closely with Wilson and Glass on the work and present it under Wilson’s guidance at the Baryshnikov Center in New York. In February of 2012 he conducted the music of fellow DAE composer Jherek Bischoff with the Wordless Music Orchestra in New York at Lincoln Center with vocalists David Byrne, Mirah, and several rising stars of creative popular music. Also in 2012 he traveled with DAE to the Czech Republic for a headline festival performance in collaboration with legendary Czech rock band Uz Jsme Doma. DAE’s newest work, The Predator’s Songstress, has been awarded major funding from the Seattle Center Foundation. The work consists of the creation of six extremely intricate and painterly video portraits along with a series of animated films that integrate live music and interactive performance. Joshua’s work as a collaborative artist began in his days as a Cornish composition major in the 1990’s where he met and collaborated with many dance, theater and art students. Many of these artistic relationships have continued to the present. His newest work with Degenerate Art Ensemble was awarded a Creative Capital award and a Music Theatre Now award from the International Theatre Institute in Germany.

John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Cities: a conversation with Mike McGinn”

Event Date: Tuesday, March 18, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

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

The Summary

This time we’re having a conversation with Mayor Mike McGinn about cities, and about the future of Seattle.

Read on for the details.

The Guest (see bio below)

Michael McGinn, former Mayor of Seattle

The Story

Longtime readers of these announcements know that we love to do conversations about cities, and especially about what we can do to make Seattle a more vibrant city. And sometimes we like to have only one guest rather than the traditional four, especially a guest who has played a key role in the local world.

This month, we’re doing both things, in what promises to be a fascinating conversation with Mike McGinn. McGinn has long played an active role in shaping Seattle, as Mayor over the past four years, and before that as a neighborhood activist and as director of the nonprofit Great City. I want us to draw from that experience.

Like an artist who continually shows a huge promise, Seattle has been poised on the cusp of greatness for as long as I can remember. But this time, things feel different. I think that we may be headed in wonderful directions. The problem is to understand what those directions are, and what to do with them. To the extent we look backward, it is for insight and inspiration—our primary focus must be on looking forward.

I asked Mike for a few comments about that; those are below.

Do come. And a word for the wise: I’m guessing that this one will be well attended. So come early, have a drink, and get settled in.

Plug

As many of you know, I’m on the board of directors of Arts Corps, and our spring fundraiser, La Festa del Arte, is coming up on March 21 at Showbox Sodo. It is a party like none other in Seattle, with amazing youth performances, and huge amounts of energy and beauty. The interplay between art, community, and a deep commitment to social justice is stunning. And there’s an after party, with the Love City Love Arts Collective, hosted by Grammy nominee Hollis Wong-Wear. Check it out, and come if you can.

The Guest in Detail

Mike McGinn was the Mayor of Seattle from 2009 to 2013. Prior to that, he was the founding director of the nonprofit Great City, was a leader in the Sierra Club’s Cascade Chapter, and practiced law with the Seattle firm Stokes Lawrence. He has a B.A. from Williams College, and J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law.

In terms of the city’s culture, as Mayor he prioritized film, music, nightlife, and arts and culture as key ingredients in building a successful city. He launched the Music Commission and the Seattle Nightlife Initiative, and he partnered with the Seattle School District to launch the Creative Advantage, a program to bring arts education to all Seattle students.

The Great Recession presented many challenges to artists and the arts. The McGinn administration worked to revitalize Seattle Center, reinvent Langston Hughes, and renovate Washington Hall. The city helped convert an SPD parking lot into 12th Avenue Arts, and invested in the INS building as new artist space. At the end of his term, the city was investing a record amount in arts and culture. He believes Seattle’s current success is closely tied to the city’s reputation as an innovative and creative city.

Mike comes from a family of artists, but unfortunately none of their talent rubbed off on him. Despite this, he has performed in a musical, an opera, and as an extra in three feature films. He will invite attendees to identify which ones.

Mike’s response to a question I posed:

Healthy support for the arts is only part of a vibrant city. What are the other parts? That is a really important question and goes much deeper than dollars for the arts. Dollars are one way of measuring prioritization in a pretty important way, but all too often that is the end point, not a launching point for inquiry into other questions:

  • How the money is used – who gets and does what?
  • How are dollars and programs integrated into other functions of government?

Answering those questions well requires an overall vision for the city to which the arts are contributing.  For me that vision would be an innovative, multicultural city that lifts everyone up, and that leads on the environment.

We compete in the world economy not on the basis of low cost, low environmental standards, or cheap natural resources, but rather on the basis of excellence in certain products and services based upon high standards. For that, we need to cultivate the best people, regardless of where they started in life, and to cultivate a shared sense of mission and purpose.

How does art get us there? By enhancing our quality of life and our understanding of the challenges we face, and by breaking down barriers to understanding cultural differences. It’s essential that we prepare youth for the future, so that they can contribute to a culture of creativity and innovation—even if that creativity and innovation is not “artistic,” but rather entrepreneurial or scientific.

What’s Next:

On Tuesday, April 8, we’ll have a conversation about Performance. Lane Czaplinski from On the Boards is coming, and we’ve also been in conversation with Vanessa deWolf, Jennifer Zeyl, Haruko Nishimura and Joshua Kohl of the Degenerate Art Ensemble, and Paige Barnes. Stay tuned for the final list.

John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “The Professional as Artist”

Event Date: Tuesday, February 18, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

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

The Summary

This time we’re building on November’s popular conversation “The Artist as Entrepreneur.” But now we’re coming at the subject of arts and business from the opposite direction.

Read on for the details.

The Guests (see bios below)

Cheryl dos Remedios

Cyan James

With a couple more in the works. Stay tuned.

The Story

I’ve been thinking lately about the extent to which art permeates everyday life. In this culture, we tend to think of art as something for museums and galleries, stuff done by “artists.” There is a counter view, of course, that art is integral to how we live our lives—or should be, in the best of all possible worlds. That view risks a level of reductionism: everything is art. Everything certainly is not art. But I think that it is worthwhile to recognize that the core challenges of art, the risks, the intelligence, the insights, the discomfiture and the deep pleasure, exist in unexpected places. And that the work done to create and maintain our built environment, our commerce, and our social structure can, and should, contains many components that are art.

In November we had a good, high-energy conversation about “The Artist as Entrepreneur.” Now I want to build on that, but come at it from a very different direction. Rather than looking at the entrepreneurial elements of being an artist, I want to examine the way in which art intersects professional experience. I’m using the term professional in broad terms: work based on training, work that is often complex and intense. How does art factor into everyday work, especially work that is complex and intense? Can art be better interwoven into what we do, without diluting what art is? And should it? Does such interweaving change the ways in which we think about art, make art, and educate for art?

I was just reading Buckminster Fuller’s classic book, “Critical Path.” In the foreword, he quotes e. e. cummings: “A poet is someone who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words. This may sound easy. It isn’t…the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself. To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

Can this fight even be seen as part of everyday life and work? Or can we afford a world where it is not part of everyday life and work? Come and talk about it.

What’s Coming Up

Cities—On March 18, we’re expecting that the conversation will have one guest: former Mayor Mike McGinn. We’ll talk about the ways in which cities work and don’t work, about Seattle as a place, a working city, a cultural center, and about visions for what Seattle can become as the 21st century unfolds.

Performance—On April ??, we’ll have a conversation about performance, as a discipline, as an art form.

The Guests in Detail

Cheryl dos Remedios has an interdisciplinary background in art, project management, public works, and landscape preservation. Known for her success in connecting communities to the designed landscape and to the environment, she is currently leading Gustafson Guthrie Nichol’s public communications and marketing endeavors. Prior to GGN, Cheryl worked as an artist and public art administrator, most recently focusing on the stewardship of the Herbert Bayer Earthwork. Active in the local art and design community, she currently serves on the Pollinator Pathway Advisory Board and the Great City Board, and she is a past member of the Port of Seattle Art Oversight Committee, Advocate4Culture, the Rainier Beach Neighborhood Advisory Committee, 4Culture Public Art Advisory Committee, and the Arboretum Foundation Board. Cheryl is also the founder of aLIVe: a Low Impact Vehicle exploration.

Cyan James was born in the Mojave Desert in southern California and still loves the feel of strange wide-open places. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan and is currently completing a PhD in public health genetics at the University of Washington. Her everyday work spans bioethics, public health, and storytelling – she is particularly interested in using art and narrative within peace-keeping and social justice approaches. She is finishing a novel and a collection of essays—after graduation she expects to work in public policy while wedging in as much art as possible.

John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Taking Stock…”

Event Date: Tuesday, December 17, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

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

 

The Summary

The days are growing shorter; the year is getting older. It’s a good time to take stock of our lives, our city, our culture, our world.

Read on for the details.

 

The Guests

This time, you’re the guests.

 

The Story

I’d been thinking of doing another conversation on food, in December. It’s a great season to explore the subject. But that did not come together. Next year.

So, every so often, we do a conversation without invited guests; the whole room becomes the guests. These discussions are usually smaller and more intimate than the conversations-with-guests. Last month’s conversation, “The Artist as Entrepreneur,” was well attended and full of energy. I’m expecting that “Taking Stock” will be quieter and perhaps more contemplative. We will see.

Our goal is to take stock of any number of things. To take stock is to make an inventory, an estimation of how things are, right now. It seems like a good time, as winter comes and we draw inward. We’ve just had an election, the international situation remains desperate, as usual, and it is hard to shake the feeling that we are going to hell in a handbasket. Or are we?

What of you? How is your work, your art, your music? What about your neighborhood? Are we finding the resources we need? If we’re looking for answers in the spirit, are we finding them?

We’ve just elected a new mayor. I didn’t vote for him, but he’s doing some smart things. What do you think? President Obama’s recent speeches suggest that he’s becoming a social justice crusader. Does that signal that he’s become a lame duck? Or maybe, are there new possibilities? Is there anything that people in Seattle can do to affect the 2014 national elections? The new Creative Advantage project may well revolutionize arts educations in city’s public schools. Where will that take us? What of the city’s cultural scene? The Pike and Pine neighborhood is a good candidate for becoming the cultural center of the city. (Think about it: a university, a college, two art schools nearby, the city’s best bookstore, a film center, a writing center, a dance center, a photography center, the premier art bar, a couple of informal art spaces, and several small theaters.) But can it survive the condo onslaught? As I write this, Bertha’s stuck in her big tunnel, and the city seems especially torn up with construction projects. It’s all a slow and steady march toward something, but what, exactly?

Those are some of my “taking stock” questions. What are yours? Come and talk.

John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “The Artist as Entrepreneur”

Event Date: Tuesday, November 19, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

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

The Summary

This time we’re talking about new intersections between art and business. Read on for the details.

The Guests (see bios below)

Joselynn Engstrom, Managing Director of The Acrobatic Conundrum

Ben Kerr, attorney

Andy Fife, arts consultant

Erin Pollock, artist

Steph Kese, artist

The Story

There was a time, at least in the United States, when art and business were not supposed to mix. Artists and performers went to their day jobs and then off to their studios and stages to do their work. The business side of culture was to be left to the producers and art dealers, business managers and executive directors. Of course, it was up to the artists to promote themselves, but generally within the frame of auditioning or taking a portfolio around to a dealer, or convincing a curator to come up for a studio visit. Those who went beyond this frame were seen as self-promoters, or more, relentless self-promoters. Maybe they just weren’t good enough to make the regular cut, or in rare instances, they were too good, the misfit geniuses of this world.

That’s still true in some circles. But overall, it’s going away. The model generally began to change with the spread of percent-for-art programs. Artists found themselves working alongside architects and engineers, creating detailed budgets, getting business licenses, hiring subcontractors. And to pay for the training, tools, and workspaces needed to produce often huge-scale work, they have had to be pretty relentless in putting themselves out in the world as public artists.

The change really began to spread with declines in art funding, with the collapse of 2007-2008 that left everyone scrambling, and with increasing prevalence of social media, from crowd funding to Facebook. The rise of DIY and Maker culture has played a role, and even Burning Man has had an effect, where a team of thirty people might have to figure out how to get themselves and several tons of sculpture 1000 miles out into the desert.

Certainly, traditional support structures for art survive and even thrive. But rather than looking for a few patrons or a sugar daddy, now an artist might collect a set of 50 mini-investors. Impermanence is everywhere. Pop-up studios, galleries, theaters, restaurants, and music venues have become the norm. And projects may become so complex that they require a business plan and a budget.

So what effect do these changes have on the work produced, and on the lives of the artists producing it? Is this attention to business liberating, or can it make it harder to do good work? Could it be that art as business allows for doing things that are revolutionary?

Come.

Plug:  those of you who teach youth, especially in the arts, or have older children, look at this. On Saturday, November 17, On the Boards is presenting a youth-focused matinee performance “of ‘Cédric Andrieux,’ French choreographer Jérôme Bel’s work about the life of a contemporary dancer. Think of it as modern dance + ’The Real World.’ Andrieux danced for years with the Merce Cunningham Company and the Lyon Opera Ballet, and he speaks candidly and warmly about his life experience as a dancer – the joy, the boredom, the challenges; and he performs intricate passages from classic contemporary works (Cunningham, Trisha Brown). The show is splendid storytelling for all audiences and will speak specially to young dancers and actors lured by the stage. We recommend 9+, but mature 6+ are welcome.” http://www.ontheboards.org/performances/cédric-andrieux-0

The Guests in Detail

Joselynn Tokashiki Engstrom, a scientist by study, ran away and joined an international traveling circus in 2006.  A few years later she moved back to her hometown of Seattle, and immediately immersed herself in the circus community to study the trapeze.  She began training at the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts, where she met her artistic partner, Terry Crane.  This year she left her coaching position to pursue the creative dream of The Acrobatic Conundrum.  Joselynn has performed with many groups including Dream Science Circus, Circus Contraption, Orkestar Zirkonium, and Cafe Nordo.  She is currently juggling the art of managing a circus company and finding funds to get them to the Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival. http://www.acrobaticconundrum.com/

Ben Kerr, of the Kerr Law Firm, has been an attorney for nine years.  He has an extensive background in civil litigation, having litigated multiple six-figure cases to verdict, but when he opened his own firm in 2010 his practice expanded.   He advises clients in a wide variety of practice areas including contract drafting, negotiation and review; entertainment and art law; copyright; business law; entity formation and intellectual property.   A portion of his practice is devoted to clients in the arts and he offers reduced rates for artists, representing many well-known artists in and around the Seattle area.  He has represented individuals and businesses in state and federal courts, and arbitrations on a wide variety of commercial and civil litigation matters.  He is licensed to practice law in Washington and Pennsylvania.

Andy Fife is an independent consultant, coach, teacher, and writer in arts and nonprofit management, located in the Puget Sound region and working throughout the country.  His primary focus is on the intersection of art, civics, and commerce, helping cultural institutions and programs to bring relevant and impactful social benefit to broad and diverse communities.  He has a wide breadth of knowledge and experience in arts and nonprofit management, especially in small- to mid-sized organizations, and specializing in new initiatives, programs and businesses.

He most recently served as Executive Director of Shunpike, a nonprofit arts service organization that provides support to hundreds of arts groups and projects annually.  At Shunpike he served as the primary spokesperson, consultant, advisor and director for all programs and activities.  Prior to that, he coordinated the Publicity Office of the Seattle International Film Festival, and was Director of Operations at the former art center Consolidated Works.

Current board responsibilities include the Washington State Arts Commission, the Seattle Lake2Bay Initiative and the Seattle Arts Commission’s Facility and Economic Development committee. A musician, theater director, and writer, he received a B.S. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and participated in the 2011 class of Leadership Tomorrow.

We don’t have bios for Kesey/Pollock (Steph Kese and Erin Pollock). Here is a link to their resume: http://www.keseypollock.com/about.html

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